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The New Social Media Marketing: 4 C’s of the 2011 Customer


You may be familiar with the customer decision journey, if only how the idea relates to your own process of  hunting, gathering, weighing and measuring.  There have been some really interesting posts over the past 6-12 months discussing the evolution of the traditional sales funnel into a new framework that reflects information accessibility, technology ubiquity, and the manner in which our culture has rapidly shifted to actively seek and consume bits of media through myriad of channels.   Facing a new year, the way marketers used to think and act, and the way consumers (myself included) are behaving now started me thinking.  Where does the real opportunity lay for customer-centric brands in the future?  We have to start by looking at behaviors.  I thought it made sense to categorize them with the letter C.

The new customer decision framework (which I believe has not entirely surfaced, at least in a singularly finite format in which we had adopted the sales funnel of the 1990′s to say 2008) places great importance on the influence ratings, reviews, recommendations and other collegial inputs offered by consumers.  The shift from deeply brand-centric control to higher levels of personal control (what one interprets, from whence they gather/seek bits, where importance is placed, the filters used to determine selection) affects brand planning strategies and execution.  The emergence of vehicles like Yelp! has grown traction in part due to our general mistrust of brands and the manner in which many continue to communicate to (note I didn’t say with) us as prospective customers or influencers.

In short, the homemaker in New Easton offering three out of four stars for a pair of shoes I’m thinking of buying carries more weight than the ad I missed in the general interest magazine I no longer read.  But I digress, starting a discussion about messaging, consumption habits and transparency.

What I wanted to share with you is a look at the customer of 2011, with the letter C as the theme.  In a nutshell:

  1. Consumers exercise choice in the media channels they’re active in, and may use learnings assimilated their to determine their needs.
  2. Consumers exercise control over all the input sources they’re exposed to, placing weight in a subjective manner.  Findings may affect previous thoughts about the priority of needs (features, functions, services, aesthetics, price, etc.)
  3. Filtering leads to a decision to close, to conduct the transaction.  We may then share that action with our network in search of support for our decision.  Contrary opinions may be internalized, views held until we’ve had time to explore/vet/try what we bought.
  4. Because we decided to part with our hard-earned cash and placed our trust in a brand, the post-purchase phase holds tremendous opportunity to “hold” us, whether that means captive (as with a defined service agreement where its imprudent to cancel) or cradle (as with treat with care, continue serving our needs with an eye to long-term relationships.

4Cs of the 2011 Customer 288x300 4 Cs of the 2011 Customer

I’d love your thoughts.  Remembering that this is a high-level perspective, what would you change or add to this view?  Thanks for helping make this a stronger analysis.

Join The Conversation

  • Jul 8 Posted 6 years ago dalle (not verified) There's always room for improvement when it comes to defining new marketing parts, I still think we are in an incipient form of online marketing, things are only starting to move and everything changes so fast just because the online marketing hasn't found it's final shape yet. I learned few interesting things from Perry Belcher, he's really familiar with the online environment and marketing, I would trust his advise when I am missing directions.
  • Jan 4 Posted 6 years ago Issa @ Garious (not verified)

    Ah, welcome to the year of the Social CRM, where customers are more informed and more discreet about their choices.  You don't simply tell them to buy what you have to offer and the word 'please' may not work this time.  You have to do more than just the usual 'buy-one take-one' deal you see in your local stores when you try to engage your audience online.  I guess, customers are simply looking for authenticity these days ( and value for money too ).  Cheers!

  • Jan 3 Posted 6 years ago Felix Lepoutre (not verified)

    I think the danger in your chart might be that you are following old paths in purchasing decision making. The social enables anyone to enter into any part of the 4 c's, for example by joining a commitment based on a friend's review. Today i purchased a book by an author who i know via work. he is one of my customers at the meeting center / flex-lounge i work at. I didnt know he was an author, but i was a fan of his work as a trainer and person through conversations and through the respect our director gave him. As soon as the book hit the shelves i passed C 1 and 2 and closed on basis of my commitment. Hope this helps.

  • StevenVincent's picture
    Jan 3 Posted 6 years ago StevenVincent

    I like your modern take Heather.

    For smaller and less “important” purchases, your Choice, Control, Closure & Continuity phases may be occurring now every day. The purchase of an iPad/ iPhone App is a good example. I see, I need, some type of Social Media Fusion occurs, I buy. I then Tweet, Fav, Fan or Friend it.

    I’ve looking into decision making for C-suites and you could argue that the same trend is occurring, depending on whether they are C-suite Generation Wang, PC or Netscape. Gen C does certainly appear to have started to act on online and social media information sources.

    To some extent, the 4 Cs theme re-labels the current 'buyer cycle' / 'sales funnel'? A new framework could disrupt.  So perhaps more fusion than linear, and more instinctive (cf current time consuming research-led slow motion consideration).

    Love your take on the letter “C”, how about adding Consumer/Customer (in the centre), Conversation, Content and Conversation for starters?

    Regards, twitter.com/StevenVincent  

  • Jan 2 Posted 6 years ago timo (not verified)

    4 Cs are good start for sales and ciuponing purposes, but not sufficient for marketing and branding objectives.  For latter, companies must add a "C-cubed" (so that the 2011 social media equation might be called 4C +C3.  The new all important 5th C (to the 3rd power) is the new king of mobile social media:  continuous conversation and communication--which translates into dialog through messaging that is tightly intgerated with consumers' diverse and varying daily lifestyles and activities.  Mobile users on the go want to go on and lead their lives, interacting with (and meeting new)) friends in person, without the distraction and burden of check-ins, triple clicking to an "I-Like" page to post on a wall, or playing online games.   Look for new mobile platforms like PoKos Social Messaging(TM) to provide the Ctools and solutions.

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