I hear the train a comin'...

When I first started blogging last year, I didn't see much discussion about how marketers could better serve their communities. I saw plenty of talk about how 'bloggers got it', and 'big business didn't', but not a lot of constructive discussion of how marketers could bring the online/blogging rules of community-building/embracing/empowering, into the 'real-world'.

Thankfully, I am noticing lately that the discussion seems to be shifting more and more towards how we can better serve our customers by joining them in their communities, instead of who's smarter than who.

Here's just a few of the great quotes I've come across recently:

The Masi Guy said: "Does anybody really still think that dialog, conversation, building community and working with the audience/ community to craft a way to spread the message is not the way to do things?"

Mike Sansone talks about the 'social media' tools that customers are using:"They are a portion of your customers and prospects. They are using these tools as a platform for conversation and communication."

Paul McEnany adds:"And a marketer is wrong if he or she doesn't listen, adapt to, and ultimately, become a part of the community."

Kim Klaver nails it here: "If more marketers used the products and services they market themselves, and could speak as members of the same community, there might be less of a disonnect between them and their potential customers."

Mario chimes in:"So as a marketer you have the two options: either communicate one-way with your prospects or communicate two-way by engaging your audience with your product/service and getting to hear their feedback on the same."

Ann Handley quotes Amy Gahran:"Few things cement relationships of any kind, but especially with audiences and markets, like strong, mutual communication. Encouraging conversation -- and leveraging those conversations to enhance news offerings -- demonstrates that your audience is valued not merely as a market, but as a resource."


One of the great things about blogging is that it gives us a front-row seat to view just how easily communities can form, change, and even overlap. For example, I hadn't heard of ANY of the above 6 bloggers just 3 months ago when The Viral Garden went live. Now they are all daily reads for me.

I think/hope that as more and more companies and their marketers become more internet-saavy, that they will start to realize that they have to begin to embrace the changing marketing landscape and join their customers in their space. Thankfully, with smart people such as those above, and so many others, that change will likely come sooner, rather than later.


posted by Mack Collier @ 2:23 PM,

7 Comments:

At 4:37 PM, Anonymous "David" said...

"One of the great things about blogging is that it gives us a front-row seat to view just how easily communities can form, change, and even overlap"

change, foem and overlap are good descriptors. Like it's a living place—which we all know it is. And that is what makes it a powerful emerging media. Or better yet, gathering place.

:)

 
At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Mario Sundar said...

I couldn't agree more with you, Mack.

"Practice what we preach" should be the new mantra of all marketers worldwide and by practising we influence our prospects (a.k.a the community), to follow us by example and not just by word.

Another great example of a community marketer would be Tara Hunt (while at Riya). Her blog: http://www.horsepigcow.com/.

-Mario

 
At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Paul McEnany said...

It's amazing how much you can learn from becoming part of the blogging community. There are always people there ready to test you, and your ideas, you can see how these ideas materalize and become real.

I can't say enough about how important reading and writing in this atmosphere can be. We're still at the beginning of something very special, that will certainly spawn things even greater. Good times.

 
At 10:47 PM, Blogger Kim Klaver said...

Thanks for this post, Mack.

When I think about 'community' it's less as my 'prospects' than people who are like me. And therefore I'd listen to them about the thing that binds us (that they're introducing me to, because it DOES bind us.

E.g., that's how Mel Gibson marketed his 'Passion of the Christ' movie - to other believers - the pastors and other leaders of believers like him and his dad. His own movie community rejected him, so he went to a more core group - his own community - of believers. And to the leaders there. His is the #1 highest grossing independently produced movie in history, grossing nearly $1 billion.

I'd sooner buy something from you, or Ann or BF that has to do with say blogging than from someone who sells a blogging book or program because that is what they happen to sell.

I think some people are just giving their prospects a new name - their community. But the real community members can tell one of their own from an outsider.

In a survey by the Edleman PR firm, they asked, "Who is a respected opinion leader?"

Findings:

"68 percent of respondents said: 'A person like yourself or your peer' is the most credible spokesperson about your company."

A member of the club, not an outsider pretending to be something they're not - just to make the sale.

I did a post on that yesterday " How to become an opinion leader..."

http://kimklaverblogs.blogspot.com/2006/06/how-to-become-opinion-leader_29.html

 
At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Mike Sansone said...

Love the train theme:-) Your point about not knowing those above, but now they're part of your dailies is rich. An example of blogs not only as a platform of conversation, but as a connection of those engaged in the conversation via blogging.

And if folks like you and I and those quoted and commenting here can connect so quickly and richly, why not businesses and their customers - and vice versa?

 
At 12:40 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"change, foem and overlap are good descriptors. Like it's a living place—which we all know it is. And that is what makes it a powerful emerging media. Or better yet, gathering place."

Yep. And it gives us the marketing proof we need to verify our ideas that communities can converge and be created almost instantly, so that when we talk to companies that aren't familar with blogs, all we have to do is point to the communities that spring up here like weeds ;)

I think the key is getting businesses to realize just how quickly and easily these communities can form. And that they are leaky. And how easy it is for customers to belong to several communities simultaneously.

Once marketers see just how quickly the online network moves and changes, I think it 'scares' them into action, and to embracing this space. At least it should. Again, the game is moving WAY too fast to be played from the sidelines, companies HAVE to grab a helmet and join the fray!

Mike figured you would like the train theme, it came straight from Folsom Prison ;)

 
At 5:14 PM, Blogger Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Umm... are you implying that I'm a "smart person"? Wow, have I got you fooled... thanks!

Dialog, conversation, community... it just makes sense. Why not? Why wouldn't you want to go to where your customers are? Why wouldn't you want to do all you can to engage them in a conversation- so that your competitors don't? Seems like a no-brainer to me (that's why I do it... the no-brain thing...).

Thanks Mack for the compliment- I'm more flattered than you know.

 

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