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:
- the notion that (1 on 1) push-marketing strategies and transaction-based Customer analytics are strategies with diminishing returns;
- 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;
- the notion that this implies a shift in focus from marketing for value exchange to marketing for value in use;
- 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;
- 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!