Think of the interconnection between brand and customer as “Share of Life.”
With automation and artificial intelligence reshaping everyday life, consumers respond to an entirely changed mandate. They expect more from the brand and are open to doing more with the brand. Closing an immediate sale is secondary to making your product or service an essential part of the consumer’s digitized existence.
The concept of Share of Life™ can be the critical difference between success and failure. As a new business model, it is more than simply developing a relationship between a brand and a customer; it strives to ensure that such a relationship will last a lifetime. Consider Share of Life™ as a new paradigm shift taking place at the heart of brands within a digital-first age, an evolution from what marketers had traditionally known as ‘one-to-one’ marketing is now moving towards ‘one- with-one.’ To becomes with.
Our rapidly changing digital age is constantly reshaping our attitudes toward brands and media, as well as our interactions with the world itself. In the past, products and services relied heavily on mass media, so that a generic message communicated to a wide audience would result in a potential purchase by some within that audience. We’re now experiencing a dramatic evolution of how brands and customers interact—more directly and even more intimately. How often in a 24-hour day is your brand entangled in a person’s life? This may now be one of the most important questions in contemporary marketing, as digital advertising becomes more blurred in our daily use of digitized services and products from a brand.
These were the words of the character Sean Parker, from the 2010 film The Social Network, as he describes what the founding of Facebook could mean for the way we live as a society. His words have grown truer with each passing year, as companies have stepped up their efforts to put their online presence at the forefront of their brand.
People now have more daily experiences online than they do in real life. Instead of speaking to co-workers, we send emails. Rather than paying someone cash for food, we send money through Venmo. In case we want to book a trip, we go to travel sites rather than call a travel agent.
“We increasingly do more of our shopping, more of our dating, more of our friendship-making, more of our learning, more of our news-seeking, more of our communicating and more of our selling goods, services and ideas” says Economist Milton Friedman as he describes our digital reliability across all types of monitors and screens.
Our online world provides a wealth of goods and services, so companies have now begun to strive for excellence in how their products are provided.
Today, those brands that have gone “above and beyond” for their customers are breakthrough companies that are digital by nature. Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google—without question-- have all incorporated their brands into the daily routines of their consumers.
The Big Five
By watching the evolution of these five transformational companies, Jespersen and Rapp first conceived the idea of “entanglement.” Consumers immediately recognized the extraordinary usefulness of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google and willingly incorporated these brands into many aspects of their daily lives. These five set a new standard for how brands could use an “entangled marketing” business model to effectively serve their consumers’ needs for literally a lifetime.
Through the success of these new digital players, Jespersen and Rapp saw that most brands were simply attempting to sell products, goods and services that were not needed by those looking to buy. Moreover, even if these consumers were interested in a specific brand, most were skeptical about making a purchase as they expected a one-time transaction without service or checking on the satisfaction with the product.
Jespersen and Rapp believed that contemporary brands should be thinking less about making a sale and focusing more on having a deeper understanding of a consumer’s lifestyle and routines. Anticipating what a potential consumer could use for convenience and efficiency would help a brand be of better value to a customer—repeatedly, and over a longer time.
Amazon’s evolution underscores the importance of a relevant business-to consumer relationship. Since its origins in the mid-1990’s, the company has morphed from an online bookstore to a marketplace to an original content distributor. Now, Amazon has reached a point where customers are not only looking at what the brand sells, but also what the brand creates.
For years, companies have tried to reach consumers through traditional methods such as television, print and radio advertising, focusing primarily on showcasing product features in an attempt to persuade consumers to purchase them. For a while it worked, but this arms-length relationship has become a thing of the past.
The digital transformation of how we, as collective individuals, live our lives provides marketers and professionals with endless quantities of insightful data on consumer behavior. It has also engendered a closer relationship between brands and consumers, which is moving us from the Information Age to the Age of Entanglement.
Share of Life™ is based on a ‘One-with-One’ relationship between a brand and its customer, rather than the ‘One-to- Many’ traditional scenario of mass media. Stan Rapp is considered the “Godfather” of ‘One-to-One’ direct marketing, a breakthrough during the mid-1980’s, and a starting point for today’s evolutionary shift to ‘One-with-One’ relationship. He believed that tracking the value of each customer’s experience was more vital than simply spending more on mass advertising to drive a purchase. He anticipated a massive shift in brand and consumer strategies.
In the two decades that followed, Rapp was proved right. ‘One-to-One’ relationships became the benchmark for brands looking to sell their products and keep consumers happy. Today, another shift is occurring through ‘One-with-One’ marketing, which moves beyond ‘One-to-One’ by incorporating a brand into a customer’s life. A ‘One-with-One’ relationship means that a brand interacts with a customer, which is far different from a brand simply selling its product attributes.
Today, the brand and customer have an opportunity to become an “entangled twosome” as a result of digital empowerment. Th is concept allows both an individual and a brand to add value to what the customer values. Smart marketers embrace the concept of going beyond merely engaging customers to nurturing a lifelong relationship, through meaningful Share of Life™ between brand and customer.
The question then becomes, “How is Share of Life™ obtained?” The answer is based around the three elements that assist in its creation:
- Achieve Zero Degrees of Separation
- Create “One-with-One” experiences
- Live Entanglement
With this approach, a journey to creating a relationship that will last forever between a brand and customer can commence. We’ve seen how Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google are consistently innovating, while moving into greater aspects of individual daily lives.
Let’s take a brief look at those elements necessary to understanding how a brand can move towards a greater ‘Share of Life™.’
One element of the journey is to achieve Zero Degrees of Separation, or closing the gap between brand and consumer.
Simple demographics are no longer enough in today’s complex marketing environment. Researchers, as well as those who profess expertise on providing consumer background, are now being forced to deliver more than just numbers.
They are instead being required to show useful information that can be acted upon by all divisions of a company that work with customers and prospects. This generating giant data sets. Yet, without integrating Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into an analytics process, it’s clear that data simply remains just that – data – without any critical insights and opportunities.
Winning brands are those that achieve zero degrees of separation with a customer by essentially incorporating the brand into the person’s lifestyle and daily routine – without being perceived as intrusive. To close the gap from arms-length to zero degrees, marketers need to seek more granular insights into the needs and pains of their consumers. Doing so will uncover new areas where brand messaging can yield a higher degree of resonance.
From 'One-to-One' to 'One-with-One'
The “One-with-One” relationship has evolved from the ‘One-to-One’ direct marketing strategy. The word “to” was damaging to the equation, because it implied that there had to be two opposing sides within the relationship. In marketing, there is no need for opponents; there is only a need for friends. When a brand and a customer become friends, the relationship takes off, and will often endure with satisfaction for both. The relationship benefits both parties, while also allowing each to evolve along with the other. Plus, a “data companionship” with both the consumer and the brand only serves to strengthen the relationship and keep it relevant over time.
Under Amour is betting on the notion that the right hardware, combined with large data sets enhanced by machine learning and powerful motivational tools, can make everyone better, faster, and stronger. User data enables Under Amour to develop precise recommendations for individual consumers. They are creating “products and services” with the consumer. Th e brand doesn’t believe that technology makes us lazy by bringing everything to our door with the push of a button, but it instead proves that everyday athletes want to know more and do more.
In today’s world, there must be a “stickiness” in the brand-to-consumer relationship – meaning that the two cannot take opposing sides.
A great example of this is made clear through Under Amour’s new effort called “Make Athletes Better.” The brand has launched a new line of clothing that literally turns human performance into big data. In fact, Under Amour is no longer just a manufacturer of high-quality sporting clothes, but has transformed into becoming a high-tech fitness partner enhancing your life and workout experiences.
The third element in the journey of creating Share of Life™ between a brand and customer is for both to become an “entangled twosome.” This occurs when both the brand and customer come out as winners in the relationship.
Brands and customers had separate definitions of success in ‘One-to-One’ marketing, where brands would get paid and customers would get a product. Th is antiquated definition of marketing is no longer the goal of the relationship. Instead, both sides are interested in gaining value and satisfaction, so that brands are rewarded with higher levels of customer loyalty, while customers are provided with excellent goods and services.
The more you entangle people by offering rewarding, value-adding experiences, the greater share you will receive from that person’s life.
This entanglement will only create further growth for a brand as it evolves into other aspects of a customer’s lifestyle. Just like the five digital leaders we’ve cited, a company should not stop at filling one need, but should look to fill other needs that a person may have on a routine basis. When a brand can take part in solving the problems of a customer, the entanglement only becomes stronger and has the potential to go on for future generations.
Facebook has announced that it is working on technology that will let you type words directly from your brain and “hear” through your skin. In their dedication to the future of communications and enhancing the experience of their members, the company has assembled a team of scientists and engineers to help us share thoughts beyond speech. Project leaders say that the human brain streams the equivalent of 40 HD movies every second, so they’re working to literally read your mind through sensors and optical imaging that can translate information into words.
Share of Life™
When these three critical elements are employed, a lifelong relationship between the brand and the customer will result in a greater Share of Life™, or how a brand is used in a person’s routine during a 24-hour period.
Given how Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google have made their way into our lives so effortlessly, it’s clear that most of us do not even notice that Share of Life™ has taken place.
Google, as an example, has entrenched its brand into consumer lifestyle by both anticipating and addressing needs – before they’re even recognized by a great majority of people. When Google finally introduces its long-awaited self-driving car, its users will immediately understand the benefits of reading, working, or sleeping while commuting in the privacy and home-like feel of their own vehicle. By inserting itself into a new part of the consumer’s life and adding value where it has not been active before,
Google will continue to gain greater Share of Life™. Google focuses on adding value to something that consumers value. Share of Life™ can be divided into ‘Horizontal’ and ‘Vertical’ Share of Life™. Th e difference between those two lies in whether a share takes place across different activities or within one.
A Horizontal Share of Life™ crosses multiple activities or areas of a customer’s life. Google, of course, is more than a search engine; the company now produces phones and cars, while helping us navigate with Google Maps and connecting us through Gmail and features like Google docs and spreadsheets. Th rough basic need-filling and smart planning, there is seldom a 24-hour period where someone does not check their email, use Google Maps or performs a Google search – that’s significant Share of Life™.
Vertical Share of Life™ can dominate through the intensity of one activity such as exercise. Companies that focus on targeting audiences interested in fitness and sports, specialize in everything workout-related. Under Armour is a pioneering example of a company dedicated to demonstrating how technology, data, and personalization can make a difference to a customer. As a result, they also win by increasing the brand’s Share of Life™ among devoted followers, who willingly provide information that enables Under Armour to help them perform better as everyday athletes.
In effect, brands and customers are now joining together to provide value to each other. Whether you are a B2C marketer or a B2B one, the art of your practice has changed for the better. Customer Entanglement Marketing™ (CEM) is now here, and it is far more powerful than anything that has come before it.