Design
Creating Lifelong Customers in the Digital Age
May 08, 2017 Nikola Mihin

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment" – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I've never started an article with a quote but I think this is an exception where I can break the rules because I see this as a universal truth written by Ralph Waldo Emerson over 100 years ago.  I see Emerson as content producer and orator, someone who was trying to send his timeless message to the world. If he wrote an essay or a book he would not get feedback for months later until someone wrote him a letter. 

 

In today's age, if you are a producer of content, digital or not, you are engaging with people at a prolific rate and the information circling around is abundant and instant. If you create an article, blog post, or simply put a picture on a social network you will get instant responses regardless if you are a person or a company. On the Internet, we are all equal, and the same rules apply if you are trying to create a meaningful and mature customer experience model that is sustainable and long lasting.

 

Reaching clients in today's age is never easy because there are so many different communication channels, ways to connect socially, and different directions to go so it is much harder getting people to stay longer. With an abundance of choices and information, how can we differentiate our brand and make a valuable and long-lasting connection with quality brands and people in general? 

 

The irony of advertising is if everyone is doing the same type it becomes invisible to the eye and mind. We literally don't see the banner on websites anymore because banners trigger a negative

emotional response and in a millisecond and we scroll away automatically without thinking. With instant feedback, we tend to cookie cut our messages and words because we believe that's the norm and it will have a valuable impact. But that's not the case. At best, you can get a mild response based on something someone else made before you and your message is recognized only as a look alike.

 

Why Continue if There is a More Effective Method?

The idea behind popular uniformity is that if it worked for someone else it will work for you also. The problem with this philosophy is that it's inauthentic and cannot build long lasting valuable connections. It's really common sense if you are doing what everyone else is doing people can leave at any moment because they can get the same exact thing somewhere else. So what's the solution? To be completely different and constantly defy the rules? That could work but only for short periods of time before everyone else is doing it and the cycle continues again and again but there is really no need for this cycle. The internet is big enough for anyone and if you want to make everyone happy you should just sell ice cream instead of producing content with no identity and a message that is a beacon to everyone. Why chase the tail of someone else's ideas and be a copycat?

Every business or brand is unique in its own way and has its own specific goals, culture, and unique problems. Getting leads might be easy, actually interesting them is moderately hard, and keeping them interested is even harder. If you have a business or an agency that has a great track record and needs resources to get the job done customers will probably put their trust in you. Making this connection to help them grow over time and ultimately thrive is the hard part.

Great world brands that have overgrown their national limits have started with a clear vision and kept that message echoing through the decades. Brands like Coca-Cola, McDonald's, and Apple all have clear visions that are distinct and unique. When you say word iPhone you get different association than when you say the word mobile device or tablet. There is a reason for why things are like this and brands will continue to nurture this philosophy. Words are powerful tools the only question is if your words have the power to sway people month after month, year after year, and decade after decade. This works both ways: if you are influencing customers long term, you are helping them be more alike and sending their messages in the same way will achieve the same results.

 

"Wherever I see people doing something the way it's always been done, the way it's 'supposed' to be done, following the same old trends, well, that's just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else."

            - Mark Cuban

To keep your customers, clients, visitors, and people in general interested is simple, information overload only makes it appear complex if you are chasing the latest trends without big picture in mind. The end question should always be if the latest technology trends are helping your customers grow or not, does it help them create a future they never imagined possible or is this only the latest hype. Make them reach their full potential, achieve their goals, take care of their needs and you will have a partner for life.

 

If your organization is not clear about who you are, you will have trouble persuading anyone important and valuable to join you. Like things attract, so thinking big will attract the same type of clients and people. Think small and short term and you will have a lot of small problems, a constant struggle to solve problems that don't exist and waste time creating solutions for people that don't really know what they want. What could be more meaningless and futile?

 

If you want a customer for life, first look at your own business model and ask yourself a question if your vision is an expression of your origin or merely a result of random events and opportunities.

Nikola Mihin
UX / UI, Design