Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Joining the community

Part 3 in a series. This entry is being cross-posted on BMA.

I hear so many marketers saying that you have to 'interact' and 'participate' with 'the community'. I say good ideas, but let's take it a step further, and say that we need to JOIN the community.

Hugh starts using blogs to sell wine, and Stormhoek's sales double in less than 12 months. Why? Because Hugh himself is a blogger, he understands how bloggers think, and what appeals to them. He helps the employees at Stormhoek become bloggers themselves, ie, he brings them into the community, the blogosphere. Would this have worked if Stormhoek had tried to market their wine to bloggers without joining the community? Probably not.

Again, it's not enough to interact with the community, you have to join it.

I'll go back to the JewelStock example. This event wasn't a huge success because Jewel interacted with her fans via their emailing list, it was a success because a member of her management was a PARTICIPATING MEMBER of that emailing list. This gave her fans DIRECT contact with the artist. Otherwise the concerts likely would have never happened.

Here's how it came about, according to one of the event organizers, who was also a member of the emailing list:
”In response to a list members off-hand request, Jewel agreed to give a private concert for the list members. Through Hiranya, a Jewel management contact and sometimes participant in the list group discussions, Jewel made an early June post agreeing to do a private performance. The response from the list was phenomenal”
And again, this event wasn't organized and carried out via the internet in 2006, it was organized and carried out via the internet in 1996.

That's the power of being a part of the community. And it goes beyond the obvious; that being a part of the community means you better understand your customers. What happens when you better understand your customers is that you can better serve them by anticipating their wants and needs. And the best part? As we correctly anticipate the consumers' wants and needs, and fill them, a trust is developed, which leads to the consumer lowering their defenses and letting us interact with them on a deeper level. This leads to a greater understanding of their needs, which means we can more quickly and effectively meet these needs, and thus the cycle is created.

Extra point: With that higher level of trust comes the creation of a barrier to entry for your competitors.

Extra extra point: When you join the community, you become a part of the community. As a result, the wants and needs of the community become your wants and needs. You, as a member of the blogging community, are reading this because you want to read something interesting. I am also a member of the blogging community, and I am writing this because I want you to find it interesting. If I am meeting your wants and needs, then mine are satisfied as well. Nettwerk opposes the RIAA’s stance on file sharing because they believe music should be more freely shared, as does the community of music fans, which they are a part of.


Anonymous said...

Mack - ". What happens when you better understand your customers is that you can better serve them by anticipating their wants and needs. And the best part? As we correctly anticipate the consumers' wants and needs, and fill them, a trust is developed."

Spot on!

I've playing with a metaphor for this sort of "joining the community". I call it "improv marketing" - since it has that sort of anticipation and magic that appears by sharing the communities thoughts and needs. More on that later, but "great post" needed to be stated!

Thanks for exploding the conversation!

Mack Collier said...

"It's all about marketing and PROFIT my friend. They don't become part of the community, in fact they can't be!

Blogging is only a way of many for marketers to interact with the community. Well let's correct it this way. Blogging is still an inexpensive way to ADVERTISE THEIR BUSINESS and SHAPE PEOPLE's MIND.

In the community, as a real member, we don't act like this. Or most of us don't act like that."

I think you're looking at this as an either/or proposition. It doesn't have to be.

I'm a marketer. Let's say that John Johnson at XYZ Corporation in Oregon is also a marketer. XYZ Corporation keeps hearing a lot of 'good stuff about this blogging thingie', and his boss tells him that they need to market their next product to bloggers.

Let's say I also want to promote the same product, also to bloggers.

Who do you think will be more successful, the guy that's been a MEMBER of the BLOGGING COMMUNITY for the last 9 months (Me), or the guy that first heard about blogging 9 days ago(John)?

Since I am a member of the blogging community, I have a better understanding of bloggers, and would know that the key is to market WITH bloggers, and to find ways to EMPOWER bloggers to market FOR me. I would understand that it's less about PUSH, and more about PULL.

Whereas John would likely have no idea how to successfully promote to the blogging community, since he hasn't JOINED that community, and doesn't understand what bloggers expect or respond to.

See because when you JOIN a community, you begin to UNDERSTAND what motivates its members. You realize that while your first goal is to make money, their first goal is to get the product that best serves their wants and needs. After JOINING them, you eventually realize that hey....if you meet THEIR needs(providing the best product to meet the community's wants and needs), in turn YOUR needs (mo money) will be met as well.

Funny how that works out! Over time, your goals as a marketer shift from 'How can we make more money off our communities?', to 'How can we better serve our communities?', because you realize that satisfying the NEW goal, will actually satisfy the OLD one as well.

But the key is, joining the community means that you change YOUR wants and needs (mo money) to align with THEIR's (satifsy their wants and needs better than the other guy), which means that ultimately, you money.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic article!
Wonderful approach!

- Wakish -