Market to Your Most Connected Customers

By: Kristin Clarke

Tech author Brian Solis on catching up with today's three customer segments. (Titled "Connected Customers" in the print edition.)

When Brian Solis wrote his book Engage! in 2010, he was sure that by empowering executives to think more strategically about social media, he would be inspiring them to respond to its opportunities. But that didn't exactly happen. "I realized the need to educate executives, not about social media, but about how customers were changing how they make decisions," Solis says.

While researching his latest book, The End of Business as Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution, Solis realized something else: No single audience of customers exists anymore, and marketing and "custom content" based on historic demographics are no longer effective. Today's customers fall into three segments: traditional, digital, and connected.

Traditional customers "read magazines or newspapers, watch TV, and talk to people in the real world," says Solis. "Their world is very finite." Digital customers—those who "live in their inbox"—have existed for almost 20 years.

However, the latter are morphing into new "connected customers, people who live on their smartphone or tablet and are very public about the things they're doing or experiencing," he says. "How they make decisions is nothing like the other two groups, and it's the only group that's growing dramatically."

Solis warns that "as more technology and networks are introduced, and global becomes pervasive, it becomes more important that organizations recognize that how they're structured to reach customers is totally missing the connected customer. That has to change."

Contributed by Kristin Clarke, a business journalist and writer for ASAE. Email: [email protected]

Brian Solis will keynote ASAE's 2012 Technology Conference & Expo, Dec. 5–6, in Washington, DC. Learn more at www.asaecenter.org/technologyconference

Kristin Clarke

Kristin Clarke is books editor for Associations Now and a business journalist and sustainability director for ASAE.