Last week I moderated a webinar panel on the role of communities in B2B marketing with Rob Leavitt from ITSMA and also with Mike Smith from BMC Software (recording can be found here – requires registration). It was a great conversation with good lessons learned from BMC Software.
As part of my opening comments I harped on one of my favorite topics again – that the field of marketing is undergoing tectonic shifts and that the old rules no longer apply. The old techniques of interrupt marketing that involved interrupting people to show them product or company messages or as Alan Moore, one of the co-authors of Communities Dominate Brands, calls it – the just in case marketing techniques – do not work anymore!
You can no longer broadcast messages to individuals and hope that they will get it and retell your story. Funding traditional communication programs like that is like pouring water into a sinking ship. Not only are people fed up with it, you are also competing with an exponentially growing number of companies who are trying to reach the same people. Plus you now compete across multiple media – many of them always-on and where prime time is between 9-5.
As a marketer you really need to solve the ambient findability problem – be there when people need you and where they need you. Madison Avenue calls it “engagement” – although most agencies are very confused about what engagement means. No it does not mean engagement with the ad…
One way of solving this riddle is to engage with communities who are already communicating amongst themselves about topics that you want to talk about. If your message resonates with them then it will automatically get amplified within the community before being “retold” outside the community. In some cases they may not like your message, but still like what you do and simply replace your message with something else before retelling the story. And then there will always be the case where they really don’t like what your doing, will reject your message and talk back and in the process expose flaws with your company or product in public.
This is of course the end of control. This will happen whether you like it or not. You have to give up your brand to your communities to succeed. And if you do it right you will once again reach your customers and do it with budgets that are dramatically lower than what you are spending today.