Getting feedback from your customers to improve your business is ALWAYS a good thing. The problem – marketers often times think they know their customers better than customers know themselves. Not true, and now that the tough economic times have hit, several prominent marketers (and even a publication like Business Week is not above getting story ideas from their readership) are understanding that consumer outreach is a necessary and relevant component of their business model.
Two companies with vastly different products and demographics that are remarkably similar in their approach – Starbucks and Best Buy. The tagline on the My Starbucks Idea blog is “Help shape the future of Starbucks – with your ideas“, while Best Buy’s Idea Xchange touts:
“We’re constantly looking for new ways to improve our business and are asking you to help us by sharing your own ideas, voting for ideas you like, and discussing them with the rest of the community.“
These are great examples of two companies who understand that the very foundation of their business, the customer, is a valuable asset to them as they prepare new market offerings – both in product and services. From my perspective, more marketers should be following their lead or face the danger of losing share to competitors that do.
Jeremiah Owyang’s recent report “The Future of the Social Web: In Five Eras” is getting a lot of traction this week. It should – and marketers must take notice of his findings. Jeremiah is spot on in his interview with CRM Magazine regarding the power shift from the brand to the consumer:
“The community will take charge, and that’s going to happen whether or not marketers or brands participate.”
Jeremiah goes on to outline the 5 eras of the social web – overlapping across the past, present, and future. His insight is predicated on substantial qualitative research with 24 of the top technology brands, enablers, and publishers that are leading in the social space (I’m biased – Intel, my employer, was one of the companies he spoke with as was Federated Media – a publisher whom we’ve had great success in partnering with). The overlapping eras are as follows:
- The era of social relationships
- The era of social functionality
- The era of social colonization
- The era of social context
- The era of social commerce
I can appreciate this statement specifically:
“…focus is on community and the advocates within each community. Doing so will be the only way a brand can scale.”
Those companies that understand the power these communities represent in terms of advocacy for their brand, will be light years ahead of those that don’t.
Community, Social Media