Every single day, consumers are creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data – with 90 percent of the world’s data created in the last two years alone. In those 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is gabber from consumers about brand perception, and it’s that gabber that’s troubling marketeers with large enterprises as well as the small and medium-sized businesses.
Ed Abrams, Vice President of the Small and Medium-Sized Business Division of IBM, said that there are three main challenges that small businesses have in dealing with this consumer data:
- Figuring out to deliver value to customers
- Figuring out how to foster lasting connections
- How to measure results and successes
Most of this data Abrams is talking about is coming in through social media in real time, providing real time feedback on how a brand or company is treating its customers. In a recent IBM study of chief marketing officers from small, medium, and large businesses, 70 percent of these CMOs are concerned about this data explosion, as they are tasked with making sense of highly complex information generated constantly from a variety of sources such as consumer blogs, tweets, mobile texts and videos.
“The job of marketing is to represent the voice of the customer and to represent the marketplace,” Abrams said. “Look at the middle of the bell curve. Look at the bulk of what people are saying.”
Abrams suggested that with social media, companies ought not to overreact to every little comment and to let the market police itself. Overreacting can eliminate the trust that people have in a brand.
“People won’t trust the brand because they will perceive the conversation to be overly controlled,” he said. “Brand loyalty is no longer what it was. Consumers are getting third party feedback and have a lot more choices.”
The study from IBM also revealed that while midmarket CMOs believe the return on investment on marketing dollars spent will be the most important measuring stick for determining success of their business by 2015, the survey noted 72 percent of CMOs are unprepared for the plummeting level of brand loyalty.
To deal with those plummeting levels, Abrams offers two suggestions for small businesses to help bring up the level of brand loyalty:
- Find and build on the current relationships with the most your most loyal customers. They can become advocates that build a greater following and generate greater support.
- If you listen and monitor the consumer feedback, it’s a real time way to fix or to address any issues. Businesses that don’t do this will not be successful.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to get a competitive advantage and to drive growth,” Abrams said. “At it’s core [this data] is all about conversation and embracing channels.”