5 Notions To Embrace In Your 2011 Marketing Strategy

2011 Is lurking around the corner. Time to reflect on how well you did (or are expected to do) in 2010 and prepare your strategies for next years. If you are in marketing and/or Customer Relationship Management you will probably be looking at how to balance multi-channel (or cross channel) approaches in combination with the rise of online social networks and new technologies to seek new (Customer) relationships and mine both data and Customer feedback. You may even be thinking about how to design Customer experiences that drive word-of-mouth through these social networks.

Whilst all of these approaches may make sense I like to share with you some of my thoughts on the above and provide you with 5 notions I believe you should embrace in your 2011 Marketing Strategy to start driving for real change and get ahead of the ball-game.

Three things you should (have) be(en) doing

  • For starters I believe that preparing your organization for multi/cross-channel interaction with your Customers is deferred maintenance. If you didn’t purposely design for a multi/cross-channel Customer engagement strategy already, you are lagging behind.  And yes, social media should be added to the mix too. And don’t forget: this is not about designing for a one-way highway out of your building. You need to design for incoming traffic too. Or better even, for places you and your Customers can meet and exchange knowledge, ideas and experiences.

  • Secondly: influence in Social Networks is not new. What has changed is that peer trust has increased in importance for Customers and more so that “first hand stories of experience” are accessible for them. Better accessibility and creation of knowledge, in the broadest sense, through (on-line) social networks is the true shift. Enabling your Customers to share their experience with peers and other Customers is an important first step. Make sure your aim is not only to spread the good stories, but that you learn from them and the forces that drive the social networks of your Customers too.
  • Finally: the importance of Customer experience is not new either, nor has it’s importance increased. Like it has been for ages, we just need to getter better at it every day, to keep up with the increasingly rapid pace of change in the market place. More importantly: don’t limit your experience design to the Customer’s journey ending in a sale. Extend into the much richer experience of Customers getting their jobs done.

5 Notions to embrace

Leading companies are doing, or have already adopted the above. More importantly they have adopted a way of thinking and acting that has provided them with access to new insights, new technologies, new market segments, more new and loyal Customers and evidently a better position in the market place to continue to grow. I believe you should not try to copy what they are doing or have done. It is about embracing the “notions” that are feeding their strategies and actions.

These companies have embraced:

  1. the notion that (1 on 1) push-marketing strategies and transaction-based Customer analytics are strategies with diminishing returns;
  2. the notion that Customers are not means to extract value from, but can be, want to be and are, active participators in the process of mutual value co-creation;
  3. the notion that this implies a shift in focus from marketing for value exchange to marketing for value in use;
  4. the notion that opening up their knowledge stocks and continuously tapping into the flows of knowledge both inside and outside their companies provides them with competitive advantage;
  5. the notion that empowering people (and with people I mean Customers, employees and partners all alike) in communities of likeminded and/or shared interests to solve their problems or do their “Customer jobs” better than anyone else, trumps influencing people to sell to their community for you.

There are many great examples out there, which have been described by leaders like John Hagel, Steve Vargo et all, Irene Ng, Frank Piller, Umair Haque, J.K. Prahalad, Venkat Ramaswamy and Francis Gouillart.. And you’ll recognize other examples intuitively around you when you encounter them.. Again: it is not about copying them, but adopting the underlying principles and design your own strategies and actions from there.

Some final words

The above is not Social CRM or Social Marketing. I (naively) want(ed) it to be, as you may have read in some of my previous posts. The market decided otherwise. No hard feelings by the way, it’s not the acronym that’s important, the great people, ideas and innovative practices within the space are.

Some refer to it as “conversational” marketing. Steve Vargo has announced “it” as the arrival of “the age of co-creation and service-dominant marketing“.

The problem may not be so much with what we put in front of it, but how we perceive, interpret or give meaning to words like “marketing” or “customer relationship management” through our designs and actions.

My closing question to you would be: what methods, approaches and/or changes in (service system) design and (marketing and/or crm) actions would be required for a company to be able to say: “we master the capability of social, co-creative, conversational, service-dominant, pull, relationship marketing”?

Share your ideas in the comments!

The Next Big Thing is not Social “XYZ”

Co-creation is what makes Social CRM and Social Business Design work

Over the past months I’ve been writing about Social CRM and Value Co-creation in an attempt to define both. As it appears, to me at least,  both are highly linked if not of the same kind: Co-creation is at the center of Social CRM or Social Business Design. One can not have Social CRM or Social Business Design or what have you, without applying the principle of (value) co-creation. Co-creation is not only at the center of all, it is the heart of it all. Co-creation is what makes it work (and not technology).

Social CRM nor Social Business Design is “the next big thing”

Come to think of it, it is not that mind-blowing. We understand for a while now that Customers, employees and partners can be great resources when it comes to listening to them and understanding what is happening with them and in between them and that this understanding is a good source for improvement. We did not need Social Media to understand the principle. Furthermore, most of us know and experience in our daily business lives, that in order to be successful in whatever you are doing in (business) live, one needs to collaborate. Also not a lesson told by Social Media. And good collaboration requires good communication and sharing of knowledge between stakeholders. Much like communications, value co-creation requires parties to work together to make it happen.

More recently, but still over a decade ago, we have discovered that stakeholders are not only good resources of knowledge, but that they are very willing and able to be part of the value-creation process as well. And it is human nature, or even the law of evolution, that we must adapt to changing circumstances. With an ever changing world around us we are in constant need of adaption, also called innovation. The fact that Customers are talking and networking is not new either, the fact that they do it on-line in a newly facilitated highly networked environment is just one of those changes that we need to adapt to.

Mind-blowing is, that it took us so long to “get it”

I thus come to the conclusion that there is nothing mind-blowing or shocking about Social CRM or Social Business Design and alike, nor to my Social CRM Strategic Framework Statement. The thing that is mind-blowing is that it took us so long to “get it” (and we’re long from everyone “getting it”), To conclude this part: Social CRM and/or Social Business Design is not The Next Big Thing. It has been common sense all along and we’re just late implementing it.

If Social XYZ is not the Next Big Thing (NBT), what is?

I have to excuse myself. I really do not know the answer, or best guess at this stage (yet). Before I can get to that I need to understand what the last (and one or two prior to last) NBT of the past was. I’m counting on you to help me with that: what do you think the last NBT was and what will be it next. Or do you not agree with my statement above? Please let me know too!

Thanx for sharing, looking forward to the debate.

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