Knowledge is Power When Information is Everywhere

I was back at the Merchandise Mart earlier this month attending Design Chicago and sitting in on CEU Seminars. One of the few that resonated with me was a chat with residential-design industry leader, Chad Stark, SVP of STARK Carpet.

During his presentation, “Knowledge is Power When Information is Everywhere: Tools and Strategies with Today’s Tech-Savvy Luxurians,” Stark provided some insights I believe to be relevant to any professional, regardless of industry.

Stark began with the vexed question, “Are informed consumers good or bad?”

Informed consumers are a positive when it comes to understanding the value of a product or having a willingness to pay for superior customer service. However, the informed customer is not looked upon so fondly when it comes to delayed decision-making as a result of shopping around or suggesting cheaper, inferior options. The verdict was that it’s ultimately better to have a well-informed customer. It was agreed that the trend for customers to educate themselves online before reaching out to a salesperson is going to continue.

One of my favorite takeaways from Stark’s presentation: being an expert and authority in any industry, whether as a designer, sales professional, or other executive is just as much about guiding customers away from bad decisions as it is guiding them towards good ones.

Stark ended by outlining six strategies to empower designers to provide the most relevant and credible information to potential clients. Of those strategies, two apply to all businesses looking to operate in an economy that relies increasingly on a flood of digital information. Stark encouraged a dedication to growing one’s social credibility by 1. Establishing oneself as an authority by sharing one’s expertise for free (e.g. designers giving free consultations) and 2. to position oneself to receive earned media, especially organic product reviews from online Influencers.

Knowledge is power when there is unlimited access to information. To ensure your customers have the best information and regard you as the expert, share your expertise and align yourself with social influencers who will recommend your product. Brand awareness is important, but works best when your customers feel that it’s genuine.