Monday, March 24, 2008

The future of marketing is about embracing people, not tools

I was hoping the audio and video to our panel on The Future of Corporate Blogging at SXSW would have been up by now because I wanted to give my thoughts on the panel. I think the panel itself was great (other than my hiccup during the introductions), and I was very lucky to make my panel debut with three people that are old pros at this in Kami, Mario and Lionel. If you click on their names, that will take you to their review of how the panel went.

The key takeaway I had from the panel is that it's not about these social media tools, but it's about the conversations that these tools help facilitate. And it's no longer about blogs, it's about companies having multiple touchpoints with customers in order to spark as much interaction as possible. It just makes good business sense, as more interaction between company and customer leads to greater understanding, which leads to more efficient and effective marketing. Which...costs less.

It's also about putting a human face on an organization. That's what struck me about how smart it is for companies to be involved in events like SXSW. People that attended our panel didn't get to talk to Dell and LinkedIn, they talked to real people named Mario and Lionel that work at LinkedIn and Dell. It's tough to connect with or even care about a company, but when you get to know the real people that work there, and they you, then the dynamic changes. At that point a relationship becomes possible, and that's extremely powerful for both the company, and the customers. I've talked before about how in many cases the company and customer are isolated from each other, both groups speaking different languages with different wants and needs. As a result, neither group really understands or trusts the other.

But smart companies like Dell and LinkedIn are finding ways to remove barriers that exist between them and their customers. Don't think for a minute that other companies aren't seeing how other companies are using social tools to better communicate with and understand their customers. Starbucks annoucing MyStarbucksIdea last week is a perfect example of this.

But I guess my key takeaway from this panel is that I am genuinely excited about the future of company/customer relationships. We have smart companies like Dell and LinkedIn that are exploring new ways to better understand their customers, and we have smart consultants like Kami that are helping get companies up to speed on how these social tools can help them get to where Dell and LinkedIn are now.

I think we are on the verge of seeing companies move in earnest toward tools and methods that let them bring the customers' voice into their business processes. Exciting times indeed.

Pic of our panel via Jeremiah's Flickr pics.


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Anonymous said...

Business is personal, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying, to quote Nataly Kogan.

You look great in your panel debut, Mack! Wish I could have seen it in person.

Anonymous said...

So would you suggest that the takeaway for brands and marketers is beyond multiple touchpoints - introducing pervasive touchpoint, connectivity, conversability and experience initiatives?

Aren't we saying that it isn't about the platform, but the interaction?

Kami Huyse said...

Mack; You were fabulous. I appreciated the way that you focused us in on what was important. Lionel, Mario and I could've talked all day, but you helped us to boil it down.

Great work!

Mack Collier said...

Jon, that's exactly right, it's about the interaction. Because that interaction not only helps the company, but also helps we customers better understand (and trust) the company's marketing. Then of course as the company begins to incorporate more thoughts and ideas from the customers into its marketing, the marketing because easier for us to understand, and trust.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Thanks Kami, that was a bit of a challenge because all of you had so many great points to make, I wish we would have had longer than an hour!