If you want to make it viral, make it collaborative first

BY Fernando L. Mompó on 16 / 10 / 2014

Despite all new social technologies and practices, most companies still treat their customers as targets, segments, psycho profiles or mere data. Some platforms  create for them the delusion they really have hundreds or even thousands of “followers” or “friends”. Even when they really have some, these companies very rarely behave for deserving such a strong title.

It’s not that companies don’t want and try to connect with consumers by understanding their likes and dislikes, or how can they make advertising, marketing and branding relevant to them. But they are still living in a paradigm where marketing is about making “people” to like what companies already designed and produced for them.. without them.

That is the reason why new ways to communicate and interact with customers are still used in a not so essentially different way traditional media is used. In most cases, it’s just about saving money by trying to push directly brands, products or services to customers or, even more ambitiously, pretending customers to act as prescribers among their friends and acquaintances. But, why should they bother?

Stop reacting and start collaborating

Since new digital paradigm started to impact organizations, new forms of marketing have just focused in two most known “Ps” in the Marketing Mix, Place and Promotion, forgetting about the P for Product. In the future, marketers should pay more attention to how new digital paradigm affects the way a new product or service is created. My advise to those disappointed with social media promises on marketing a product? Quoting the famous phrase coined by Clinton: “It’s the Product, stupid”.

Co-innovation with customers is, of course, an important part of the solution. New type of customer is turning the consumer market into a creator market. These customers are part-time marketers and have a clear idea of which products and services they want to use and are willing to pay for. Companies need to embrace this new empowered consumers by structurally collaborating with them. Consumer-activated companies will be able to react quickly to new trends and emerging consumer needs. They will also be more capable to improve their products/services anticipating competitors’ new strategies.

Consumers as consultants

That is why some companies are starting to work the concept of Consumer Consulting Boards, boards that can help them to develop products that are more relevant and have a higher chance of success. For companies to truly deliver products that delight customers, their voices need to be hardwired into the design and development process from the very beginning. Consumer Collaboration is at its core, a philosophy on how companies can approach innovation, not a replacement for existing methods of analyzing data or a means for predicting customer behavior.

Consumer collaboration is a better way of doing business

Recently Communispace produced “The Consumer Collaboration Manifesto”, a short video which explains exactly what true consumer collaboration is and why it should be done broadly.

“We build walls, departments and structures to keep consumers on the outside. We engage consumers from behind one-way mirrors in focus groups. We count up their clicks, tweets and likes. We’re more comfortable seeing people as data points or in crowds.  There has to be a better way of doing business. Where we aren’t scared of consumers, but where we invite them in to partner with us. Not to outsource or crowdsource business decisions, but to be inspired by consumers, to work with them. Where we create a shared purpose and a mutual benefit for consumer and company. Where the consumer is integrated throughout the business. Where we get beyond just collecting data on consumers, and start collaborating with them … as a better way of doing business.”

 “The Consumer Collaboration Manifesto”

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