Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Expanding the conversation – giving everyone in your business a voice – 1

Posted in strategy and planning, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on April 29, 2011

In a fundamental sense this posting is simply a logical next step to several lines of reasoning I have been developing in this blog, and in several series (see Business Strategy and Operations and Web 2.0 Marketing in particular.) I have been writing about opening up lines of communications, and both within the organization and as the organization reaches out to and connects with its marketplaces. I have written about the conversation flowing through these marketplaces and the communities that comprise them, and of social media and crowd sourcing. With this posting I want to focus on Marketing and Communications as a department, or if you prefer Marketing and Sales – whatever department, service or other functional area that has traditionally taken ownership of message and branding for your organization.

Traditionally, this was a relatively closed team with a distinct set of members, and with all others in the organization going through them and certainly whenever communicating out to the marketplace. When businesses started connecting to these marketplaces and with members of the outside community through social media, and via Web 2.0 and the interactive online experience per se, the basic unexamined assumption was still one of reaching out from a central point within the organization – a sharply delineated Marketing and Communications group and with them serving as a central contact point for messages coming back in. The only real problem with this is that it becomes unsustainable as both marketplace and other external participants, and as your employees and internal constituents find their voices in these larger, open conversations.

An effective version 2.0 for Marketing and Communications may still leave you with a distinct service that is uniquely tasked with certain core marketing and communications responsibilities, but in a Web 2.0 and social media environment this department per se has to open up to support more direct communications and include people in your organization who would most directly manage and resolve questions and issues that people from your marketplace throw toward you.

• This can mean opening up the creation and distribution of message from the company to support and include public-facing, company branded blogs – blogs written and maintained by employees from throughout the organization and not just from marketing and communications specialists.
• This can mean capitalizing on and developing the potential that is already out there and in place from having so many of your employees on sites like LinkedIn and naming your business as their current employer, with profile notes on what they do there.
• Do your customers and potential customers prefer Facebook? Then this means opening up the conversation there, and involving your employees who are also on that site in conversations that Facebook groups and Facebook networking could enable.
• What other tools are your customers and potential customers, and your employees using? Twitter? StumbleUpon? Digg? Which sites and online channels and for what, and sharing with whom?
• Which of these tools and conversation flows would support the types and formats of message that would positively support your business?
• Which of them would enable both your customers and potential customers, and your employees to communicate in ways that would create value, and value that is connected with your business?

Turning this around, if your prospective customers have questions about your products or services, wouldn’t it make sense to bring your engineers and developers, and your pre-sales experts more directly into these conversations? If your current customers have questions about products or services they have already agreed to buy and use, should your helpdesk and customer support be involved, and with people developing updates in what you offer included too? Should your people in general be involved in these conversations where they delve into their areas of expertise and where these employee voices would aid your business in capturing and retaining positive customer awareness and market share?

This posting, bottom line, is all about building and supporting a more openly involving, actively collaborative Marketing and Communications 2.0. I am going to follow up on this with a more implementation-oriented posting for building a version 2.0 Marketing and Communications department, with open doors rather than closed walls.

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