The best way to clarify my concept of Social Retail Marketing (SRM) is with a brief narrative. Imagine you’re at home, scrolling through Instagram, and you tag three friends under a video ad for Tim McGraw’s Here on Earthalbum that really grabbed your attention. You had to share it! As you read their excited replies, a notification pops up on your phone. You’re not sure who it’s from, but you’re glad to receive it: you’ve just learned McGraw will be in your city for a one-night only concert. If you click the button, you can buy four tickets—in the third row.
You click and, somehow, you’re moved into Facebook Messenger. You fire a quick message to ask if your friends want to go. They respond immediately: “Yes!” So you hurriedly click on the link inside your chat stream. Since your payment information is stored in your settings, the transaction is complete in seconds.
You’re going to the show.
As your friends chat about seeing McGraw, you get another message. Again, you’re not sure who sent it, and, still, you don’t mind the intrusion. The offer: 20 percent off on a limo ride to the concert, along with VIP access passes.
How can you say no?
Now you’re on a roll. From your prior searches, the channel knows you love northern Italian cuisine. It turns out there’s a fantastic new restaurant featuring a Milanese chef four blocks from the concert venue. A corner table is available, along with a 15 percent discount on your tab.
Just click here.
Later, you get an offer to send flowers on the night of the show. You accept and arrange to send a bouquet to your special friend. But you invited three friends. How did “they” know you’d want to send flowers to one of them? Or did they? Was it just a robotically generated offer? Who cares. You’re happy they thought of it.
Not long ago, you might have resented any intrusion into your online activity. But today, you’ve made the willing and profitable bargain most of us have made—giving up some privacy in exchange for connecting to a “super mind” that seems to predict our desires even before we fully recognize them.
And, even better, gratify them quickly and easily.
You’re a citizen of The Impatience Economy TM, a world where “delayed gratification” has become a contradiction in terms.
Today’s expectation is: “Get now”, not “Buy now”.
Soon, billions of consumers will be buying everything from baby gifts to funeral arrangements the same way I described buying concert tickets: instantly, conveniently, and without leaving their social media chat streams.
That’s the essence of SRM.
They say old habits die hard. Not anymore. They’re changing on the spot. Children attend Zoom classrooms and seniors conduct their Bible studies online. Adults work and shop from home. Social media is flourishing. In a matter of weeks, the pandemic jump-started an economic trend that will resonate for the entire 21st century.
In addition to those who tragically lost their lives during the pandemic, many companies will perish in the aftermath, unable to keep up with rapidly evolving consumer demands. Years ago, American Express ran an iconic ad campaign whose tagline was “Don’t leave home without it.” Today’s consumers want the option of shopping without ever leaving home. Period. And with SRM, they don’t have to.
In the past, sellers dictated the terms of the marketplace. Today, consumers are in charge. They decide what they want and how they want to receive, experience, and pay for goods and services. Satisfying these consumers and mastering the impatience economy are not tasks for the fainthearted. Not everyone will thrive—or survive. Successful companies must change their mindset, develop new skills, and adopt creative ways of thinking about technology, marketing, and retail channels.
All others should begin preparing for new careers.
As the American founder and chairman emeritus of one of the world’s largest telecom companies, I’ve learned a lot about meeting consumer needs, marketing, selling, and predicting where the world is going. And I can tell you this with perfect confidence: the world is moving to a new digital marketing and sales model at a speed unlike anything in human history.
Combine new consumer attitudes with the unbridled and for the most part still untapped marketing power of social media platforms, and there’s a whole new consumer universe to be understood, explored, and served.
A universe built on, of all things impatience.
Those companies capable of responding to consumers’ mounting impatience will be the big winners.
Everyone else? They’re headed for the dustbin of marketing and retail history.
If you want your business to thrive in today’s impatience economy, be ready with Social Retail Marketing!