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To Succeed in the Digital Wilds, Beware of the Zombies

The zombies are running faster. It's true. If you look at the speed at which zombies run in TV and movies over the past 20 years, they're getting faster. And according to Tim Walters and Robert Rose, the speed at which consumers demand information is increasing at the same rate as the speed of the zombies.

Walters and Rose used this fantastic analogy at last week's Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston during their keynote, titled, “World War C: How to Survive and Thrive in a World of Fast Moving Consumers." I’ve been inspired to build on this comparison. Even though I don’t have the slides of World War Z and Brad Pitt placed right next to a picture of the madness of Black Friday like Walters and Rose, I’ll try to do my best to contextualize it in a blog post.

If you think about zombie movies in the last 20 years the speed at which the undead run has increased substantially. Similarly, if you look at consumers and content marketing in the last 20 years, the rate at which these consumers want and receive relevant information is rapidly changing as well. So much so that these two examples are almost a direct correlation, besides the cosmetic appearance of course.

Consumers now are more educated than ever. They have the information that puts them further along in the sales cycle at an earlier stage, to a point where the buyer knows exactly what they want before they walk into your store. Because of this, marketers and sales teams need to be one step ahead of the the consumer, the same way the movie hero must stay one step ahead of the zombies.

According to a report by Fonolo, 89% of consumers say that they will switch to a brand competitor after a bad experience and will in fact pay more for a similar product. We’ve seen a shift in the way products are strategized and released. Companies have gone from releasing products to fit their own schedule, to releasing products on a timetable that satisfies consumers.

As the speed of zombies increases, the fearful citizens have to come up with quicker moves and be able to dodge each zombie from every angle. As the consumers pick up speed, brands need to be able to use digital, social and mobile to be able to stay ahead of the curve and maneuver their way around anything that comes their way, so that they can protect their market share.

In order for a brand to avoid being disrupted in an ever-changing digital world -- to avoid being hunted down by these zombies -- they must be able to master two moves: reinvent and run. These two moves are key to surviving the marketing “World War C.”

As the rate of technology changes, your brand needs to be constantly reinventing itself. What is your brand strategy and your vision for customer success? Is it the same as 10 years ago -- before any social media platform was created? Use analytics and customer feedback to help build your brand, and evangelists will follow. The second piece of advice relates to our zombie friends: run. What I mean by this is that if you stand still long enough, you will be disrupted by another brand that can do what you do better and more cost-effectively. Always continue to innovate and think about the next trend that may be around the corner.

Today there are smart watches and Google Glass, while tomorrow there could self-driving cars and jetpacks. Everyone is using social, but what we do today by touching or swiping may soon be done by using our voices or hand gestures in the air.

By having a vision and putting your customer at the center of your digital marketing strategy, your brand’s success story will write itself -- and help you avoid the zombies.

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