Sunday, May 31, 2009

Product-Centric Brands are Imploding - Customer Centric Brands are Exploding

Today, brands are mostly product-centric- Brands try and persuade us to buy their products because of their reputation for high quality, or good value. This is rapidly shifting. In an environment, where "return on attention" becomes a key measurement of performance, a new kind of brand is emerging-one that is customer-centric. As social networks deepen the inter-linkage between individuals, and individuals place greater trust in their association with others of shared interest, brands who assure their customers that they are listening, and responding to the input of the "community" will likely thrive. Customer-centric brands will begin to emphasize their ability to listen well...the more attention received by the individual customer...the more responsive the brand will become in satsifying the need. Watch for the rise of the "infomediaries", those who can crunch the data, interpret the data, and become more predictive of how the data translates into trend....Stay tuned.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Social Web Strategy: Start by Looking Inside!

One of the immediate consequences of putting a “social web and media” strategy into practice, and often overlooked, is the opportunity to improve internal communications between team leaders and staff across the organization. With all of the corporate downsizing, the need for faster, and more efficient means of sharing information, and content between departments is crucial. Everyone needs connectivity to everyone else.
The tendency to latch on to social media as a quick fix for marketing will prove to be frustrating, and short-lived without attending to strengthening internal communications.

Companies as a whole –beyond marketing– must prepare themselves for open engagement with customers, suppliers, and new prospects. Without sufficient preparation, senior leaders are likely to feel "invaded upon" and lack of preparation will be painful. I think it best to initially focus on establishing the right "mindset" among management and associated staff. This is a strategic task when properly executed, will enable all involved to be tolerant of tactical tasks which often face timeline hurdles from lack of bandwidth, and implementative challenges.
Recognizing that social technologies will become is an excerpt from noted
social media advisor for Forrester, Jeremiah Owyang...
Social technologies are creeping into nearly every aspect of business, making this incredibly difficult for brands to manage as so many systems –and therefore stakeholders– are looped in willing or not. Having spoken to some brands that are tackling this change, here’s some practical advice that I learned the top firms are doing:

1) Recognize the trend that social technologies are crossing over to all aspects of the business: If you’re responsible for social media leadership in your company, recognize that this technology is pervasive beyond corp comm and marketing as we saw in the last few years.

2) Yet, as things start to get complicated, simplify: Rather than focus on the all of the distinct arenas that social crosses, focus on the trend that customers and their opinions will be part of nearly every aspect of your business –even if you don’t choose for them to be present.

3) Start the culture change now with internal education: The internal culture change is the biggest hurdle for companies. I spoke to a traditional media company yesterday that is quickly migrating away from print to online, and is conducting internal ’show and tell brown bag sessions’ across the enterprises where people can come from any department.

4) Rather than build a strategy focused on technologies, build around customers and employees: Above all, don’t focus on the technologies themselves, start to train yourself to start and end a discussion with customers (and/or employees) rather than “Twitter”.

5) Organize your company for social: There’s an innovation curve here that your company must jump, but to be successful, you’ll need to change not technology (only 20%) but culture, strategy, process, roles, and how you measure (the other 80%).


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Shift from Capital to Talent

Despite what you might think given the current job market, the most pressing critical factor influencing success in business is shifting from capital to talent. Companies are doing their downsizing and the remaining staff are multi-tasking, strained, and in many cases, constrained. This is not good for everyone, the undereducated and those whose talents are not now in demand are losing ground.
But there is a bright side. Employers are confronting the realization that their most talented employees, are showing up with an ethical agenda. Employees who can easily find work elsewhere are refusing to work on projects or for companies that offend their values, even with the potential to be well paid to do so. I am confident that this trend will accelerate, as the economy stabilizes. Observe talented team leaders taking a stand for sustainability when choosing their careers. Watch closely as investors and shareholders in public companies make their investment decisions with the conviction that companies dedicated to sustainability as a core value, offer the best ROI because it it those companies whom will attract the best talent.
As social web interlinkage expands, and commerce becomes driven by connectivity to content, ideals, trust, and sustainability will become a competitive advantage. Counter to what traditional media may report, talented people are making sustainable career choices in increasing numbers and this will grow as social web platforms enable ambient intimacy between groups of people with shared interests. Stay tuned as we look at this trend on the future of retailing...and shopping in a Web3.0 eco-system.


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