Call me naive, but I have always seen marketing as something more than simply a 'necessary evil'. In fact, I believe marketing, if used properly, is a tool that can not only give customers what they want and need more efficiently, but in turn will benefit the companies that serve their communties, by lowering costs, and allowing companies to give customers exactly what they want, when they want it, which leads to greater goodwill between companies and the communities they serve.
Of course, this happens when companies are clued in enough to embrace and empower their communities.
But the problem is, for many companies, this is a total shift in mindset, that the customer is a person that has equal, or even greater control over the company's marketing message, than the company itself. For companies that have an entire corporate culture built around 'push' marketing, they can't switch gears overnight and move toward a 'pull' relationship with their communities. But the journey of a thousand miles....
Bloggers as a group, are seeing firsthand the power of joining and empowering their communities. But at the same time, I feel we need to find a way to move the principles of community-building and empowering to the mainstream. These are powerful ideas that could have a profound affect on how companies reach and service their communities. I have talked to Ann about this repeatedly, and she had a great post on Daily Fix recently about how companies need to find ways to become more 'conversational'.
As a group, I have always felt that we bloggers take ourselves entirely too seriously. And some of it is understandable, we are clued in to online communities that we have joined and created, that the 'mainstream' has overlooked, or flatly ignored. In doing so, we are seeing firsthand the awesome power of the community, while learning and creating invaluable marketing methods for reaching, empowering, and growing our communities.
But I think we also have a greater responsibility to 'the people' to find ways to bring the ideas of community building/embracing/empowering to the 'mainstream', so that all parties can benefit. Of course, the $64,000 question is....how?
I have a feeling there is no one 'right' answer. I think '100 CDs for 100 Bloggers' is an example of embracing and empowering communities. There are no doubt a universe of other examples, maybe even you have some?
As I told Ann on Daily Fix:"Here we have some of the smartest marketing minds in the world reading and writing for this blog, and instead of discussing how we can use this exciting media to better serve our communities, all we want to talk about is ourselves and our blogs.".
Again, maybe it's another sign of my bad self-promotional skills, but I'd rather talk about ways we can show companies how to embrace and empower their communities, and maybe even change the (marketing) world.
Wouldn't you? I thought I'd tap into the power of The Viral Community, and see what ideas you guys can come up with. If you have any thoughts, please add them in the comments.
Pic via Flickr user xeer.