What is Collaboration Marketing: Community, Communication and Collaboration

It was an honor to be able to present to many executives in NYC a few weeks ago and thought I would take the next few posts to share some of the slides and talking points. So, what is collaboration marketing? In it’s most basic form I see it as the intersection of connecting the consumer/buyer via community content, engaging in transparent communication in order to feed into the “builder” of the product to deliver an improved customer experience.

Collaboration Marketing

Community, Communication and Collaboration Marketing

Ultimately, driving more sales via brand advocacy.

However, as we shared our stories with each other I saw an opportunity and potential convergence of front line customer experience and online collaboration. It seems that many companies still keep these two functions very separate when they both share the same objective. One, is customer engagement via traditional call center engagement and two is the advocacy and digital marketing of customer experience. The goal for both is to deliver a quality customer experience and build brand advocacy but the functions themselves usually reside in two different departments with separate strategies and operating budgets. Imagine if you were able to connect the entire end-to-end experience from the customers first touch point with a full cycle of engagement.

It is pretty simple but much more complex to rollout to an organization because it touches and requires the engagement of multiple departments. It was interesting to see the nodding heads of those that could relate as I was telling the story. And it became pretty clear that we all start at the same place at some point in time. For me it was almost 4 years ago. I had no budget, two resources and confusion on where engagement marketing belongs. Was it part of communications, digital, customer service? This isn’t uncommon and in hindsight it really doesn’t matter where the function is located. The only thing that matters is if you can bring the stakeholders together and deliver. So, we started executing on what we had control over. And it all started with clearly defining three simple objectives and getting everyone’s buy in on just those three.

 

Web 2.0 is Dead

You Don’t hear much about web 2.0 which was all the rage a few years ago. The concept of having a dynamic content management system for frequent updating to keep the content of a website dynamic and fresh is no longer sufficient. Technology moves fast and you can’t get any faster than real-time dynamic user generated content. This is why web 2.0 is dead and community 2.0 is alive and thriving. The introduction of Twitter and the mobile evolution has changed the way we consume data. We expect it to be dynamically served to us based on our preference and then we will engage when we find something interesting.

A recent Havard Business Review blog post by Bill Lee Marketing is Dead made me really start thinking about tis as I thought traditional marketing was dead 4 years ago. The more I thought about it the more I realized that not only is the way we market dead it has changed to how we engage and build relationships. So, what is next? Peer review and collaboration and I don’t think you have to look further than Amazon.com to find example of this as rudimentary as it is. Taking the web 2.0 platform and integrating a robust community experience is where digital marketing is headed. We as consumers don’t want to receive email blasts anymore and we don’t want to download your latest whitepaper. What we want is to search, find and discuss and you can’t do that with a static website.

If we look at consumers (inclusive of B2B as well) buying process, what we find is a desire for confirmation that the solution we have found via search is indeed the best fit for our need. That confirmation comes from peer review and user generated content. When I find a product that I believe has the specifications to suite my desire I want to talk to someone else who already bought the product and can verify if it was good, bad or ugly. What you will see companies doing very soon is integrating their social and community member discussion into their product pages on the website so there can be this dynamic user generated content to help confirm a prospects solution.

This accomplishes a few things. It opens up the transparency of your company product line to peer consumption and advocacy engagement with other potential prospects, ultimately shortening your sales cycle. Traditional marketing use to spend hours of effort finding and writing case studies for customers, then hoping others would read them. The case study is dead. Eliminate the middle man and put your prospects in direct contact with your brand advocates and let them sell the solution for you. While you’re at it put your customers in direct contact with your product engineers for dynamic product innovation.

This isn’t all without effort, but it will be a more efficient use of marketing dollars and with an infinite return on investment. A robust community, community management , content curation and strong advocacy program will be needed but you and your target audience will appreciate the direct access and honest engagement.