To conceptualize means to explain with more abstract terms. Conceptualizing is an important for solving problems. If we do not conceptualize we are reduced to operational thinking only. This is why I try to conceptualize business, marketing, and brand strategy. Without conceptualizing we can not be creative and we will spend all our time and money on AdWords.
Best way to conceptualize business and marketing is to define the brand, because brand is what customers experience. I defined the brand as all the values accepted by a customer. However, those values do not exist without some kind of a contact between the customer and the brand. This is an “interaction”. Scott M. Davis calls it a “touch point”, but interaction is more appropriate for today.
Without interactions values can not be accepted by the customer. If a customer does not have a contact with a brand she can not experience its values. Just like there are two types of values: soft and hard, and there are two types of interactions: product and content. Product interaction is obvious – customer owns the product and interacts with it. However, if a company just makes products, there is no reason any customer will come and buy them. Content is needed to inform the customers about the product and motivate them to buy it. Content creates its own content interactions which eventually evolved into a competitive business tool.
Important question is how can we understand which content interactions are more effective and focus on them? In other words, which content will make the company more successful?
The main factor in the success of a content interaction is personalization. Personalization increases the possibility of a match between the customer and a value. Personalization is a process during which the seller, the brand, the company is analyzing the real need customer has and matches the product and content to satisfy that need. The best personalization is a one-on-one meeting with a salesperson. Salesperson can hear and see the customer, discuss the product and its benefits (values), answer the arguments, read the body language, and eventually say the right thing (content) to motivate the decision (purchase). This is the best content interaction.
There are many less effective interactions, for example, OOH advertising. OOH is hard to see (interact with) and it is not personalized. However, the lack of quality is compensated by the sheer amount of interactions. If there are hundred sales meetings, there could be dozens of millions of OOH views. So content interactions can be a low quality numbers game as well, especially in the pre-digital age.
However, today we have access to “affordable” artificial intelligence which allows personalization on millions of interactions. Interactions which used to be low quality, had no personalization, and required millions of interactions to discover customers, today can be personalized with AI. Companies can develop their own AI using their own internal know-how as an expert system, or can use third party AI such as AdWords or Facebook ads. Although Google and Facebook use AI to maximize their profit while offering minimum value to their advertising buyers, this minimum value is still sufficiently better (competitive) than alternatives and interactions without AI.
Based on our brand conceptualization, I can predict that the future of business and marketing will include AI personalized interactions. The companies that start preparing for this future will lead, companies that do not will disappear. What companies can do today is to move away from hard products towards know-how and service based business. Services allow much better personalization and offer much more value to customers than hard product only. Eventually this switch will pay off if not in more revenue, than at least in survival.
Basically, every company will need to automate their own unique version of Jordan Belfort.
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