Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Channel and cross-channel marketing when everyone is connected everywhere all the time – 3

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 15, 2012

This is my third installment in a series on channel and cross-channel marketing in a globally interconnected context, with all of the complexities that arise when marketing is moved from the local, to this wider context (see Part 1 with its introductory notes on marketing to a globally interconnected online community and Part 2 where I delve in more detail into some of the challenges faced in this.)

I turn in this posting to consider the roles of crowd sourcing and viral marketing as drivers of marketing and marketplace strength – and my goal here is to at least begin a discussion of approaches for developing these market positioning resources without a need for the fortuitous or accidental. I am not generally a fan of jargon, but to use an expression of that sort, this posting is about reaching out to and connecting with the interactive online conversation to create buzz for your company’s products and services – and as they stand apart from the competition.

I began Part 1 of this series by posing a few orienting questions about your business and what you offer, and I pick up on that again here, elaborating on this from a marketing perspective.

• What does your business seek to market? (That was my first question in Part 1.)
• What is your unique value proposition in this, and if you offer more than one source of unique value to your customers and end users what are they? Note that this can mean features of your products and services themselves, or it can mean operational features in how you provide your products and services, or in how you offer customer support. The key here is that this has to be value as perceived by your customers and end users. This can, I add be in price point or speed of delivery or in any aspect of the consumer experience where you can more readily, effectively meet their needs. What do you do for them that they would see as distinctive and valuable for that?

Reach out to the marketplace and follow their conversations and their reviews for your industry and your product and service types, and look for the friction points that draw unfavorable comments and reviews, and negative recommendations. Look for what this conversational flow shows to be positively valuable to the marketplace that you would connect with and fine tune what you offer and how you present it to match the best of what your competition can do – but if you stop there the best you can ever reach for is “just as good” and you will always be reactive.

Unique value propositions are by their very nature proactive and new. And this is where two crucially important factors enter this story: the adaptation curve and who adapts New early, and the social networking taxonomy and who can spread an effective message about the New and influence others to try it too. See Social Network Taxonomy and Social Networking Strategy for a discussion of how social networks are structured and organized in terms of influence and reach among their members, and see my seven part series: Social Networking Community and the Pace and Shaping of Innovation at Social Networking and Business (postings 133, 134, 136-8, 140 and 141) for a more detailed analysis of the innovation diffusion process and how it is facilitated or hindered and blocked by high-influence social networkers.

• Who are the high influence social networkers who by their postings, reviews and replies self-identify as potential members of the target demographics that you would market to?

This means specifically looking for the social media activity outliers, and I add this means looking for both the conversational participants who favor, and those who disfavor products and services in your market space.

Start a conversation with them, asking them for their advice and insight as to what they would most positively value. Review your products and services for possible friction points in this, and both for what you offer and for how you would frame it in explaining and presenting it. This is about both what you offer and how you package it for the marketplace.

This series is about channel and cross-channel marketing in a globally connected context.

• Go online and search out the channels that your expected target demographics would turn to – and search wider for unexpected and emerging audiences for what you would offer too.
• And actively reach out to bring the more active outliers into conversation with you – including those who would potentially facilitate or block you in your marketplaces. Your only filtering requirement here should be that they be willing to enter into a constructive dialog of some sort.
• Then draw them out and with a goal of both learning from them and of bringing them to try what you offer, as positively addressing their needs, priorities and concerns and in terms they would more favorably respond to.
• They will tell you how to do this by what they say in their ongoing shared messages; mirror their messages in your own and both for content and style, and for their choices of channel and venue to interactively post through.

This posting, while not particularly long by word count, covers a lot of detail. But it covers that scope of topic with some gaps and with areas skimmed over. I am going to look in more detail into the issues of tracking the conversational flow and monitoring the impact of your participation in this conversation in my next installment. In anticipation of that, I note that a key to making this work is in entering into these conversations with what others would perceive as a genuine voice. And then you need to be able to track impact.

You can find this and related postings at Business Strategy and Operations – 2 (and also see Business Strategy and Operations.)

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