The gameplan is …. Host a venue where customers talk to each other. Then, listen in.
In April, DMNews posted an article that quoted Tracey Eiler, chief marketing officer at Cloud9 Analytics, saying, “We’re a $5 million company. My budget’s about $110,000 a month … We are going after big companies, 5,000 sales reps and above … I can’t reach those sales execs. They don’t answer the phone. They’re on planes. They don’t want to talk to people like me. They don’t read content. They talk to each other …. This is all about lots of email nurturing, lots of content marketing, and the next up thing is really going to be community development.”
Community Development … hmmm … But How?
Here are several recent innovations that demonstrate efforts to build communitiy:
1. The same day that DMNews reported on CMO attitudes, they also reported on LinkedIn’s launch of two tools — Targeted Updates and Follower Statistics. Both programs are designed to enable businesses with LinkedIn Company Pages to pinpoint specific individuals and groups — or communities — that will receive messages and updates. Alison Engel, LinkdIn’s global marketing director, explains. “[These tools] are the latest examples of how invested we are in helping marketers utilize LinkedIn’s unique follower ecosystem to establish direct, lasting relationships with high value audiences while driving brand metrics and media efficiencies.” What does LinkedIn get out of it? More data.
2. LinkedIn again – and I confess that I am pretty much beginning to see LinkedIn as the new worldwide “ABC” [Association of Business Citizens]. In June, the ABC launched a partnership with Citi [it’s not just a bank] to bring random local women together. As I blogged in MarketingBrillo, LinkedIn’s initiative facilitates in-person meeting among peers. What do Linked In and Citi get out of it? More data.
3. Meanwhile, TV ads over the last several weeks tout Match.com taking their dating protocol offline to events they call, “The Stir.” The Daily Mail reports that Match.com is using its “matching” software to set up 3,000 singles’ nights out. But wait … this is no ordinary hit-or-miss “meet-up.” Daily Mail says “the 20-million-member website invites couples likely to match to the events.” Holy community, bat girl!
4. And then we have the politicos … These folks definitely know how to bring their constituencies together in-the-flesh. Not only do the donkeys and elephants meet, make calls, share potluck, and canvass, my affiliation has even asked if I can give lodging to a fellow political organizer from out-of-town. And, yes, I can.
5. The publishers are at it, too. As a subscriber to InformationWeek, I receive regular invitations to IT events in the area. The breakfast or lunch events are free and put technology professionals together with big companies like Dell and Intel, as well as introduce attendees to one another at roundtables.
The Point Is ..
Organizations that have buyers, users, members, subscribers, customers, donors, or followers all have unique ways to create spaces in which a community of peers can interact. Think of these as up-close-and-personal gatherings for folks who “like” you.
It’s nothing new – creating places for peer-to-peer exchange — but the innovations we’re seeing demonstrate that online-weary people are excited to meet offline if the offer is right … which seems to mean seriously shared interests, no strings, and no selling.
It’s a whale of a world out there and every enterprise has some piece of it. How might your business create safe, friendly, relevant peer-to-peer exchange opportunities?