The first, and longest, phase of marketing strategy was to push your message to the market. Billboards, radio spots, TV adverts, direct mail, you name. Blast your message to consumers early and often.
The idea of pulling customers to you certainly pre-dates the Internet (think coupons), but most of us today think of websites and opt-in email marketing as the way many companies have tried to pull target consumers to them. In the early Web 1.0 days this worked pretty well. A lot of money was spent making nifty websites with all sorts of bells and whistles.
But with Web 2.0, the dynamic has shifted. Now consumers can make their own websites, often just as good (or at least just as compelling) as the big brands. Social Media also changed the game, giving people a place to go and interact. Now, leading brands are neither pushing nor pulling (or at least not just pushing and/or pulling), but rather are chasing. “Where are the consumers, and can we find them before our competition does?” is the question brands are now asking themselves.
While the Chase phase is sure to be around for a while – as long as sites like Facebook and Twitter continue to gather users – some people are already looking ahead to the next phase: Collaboration.
The Dachic Group have embarked upon a project they call their Collaboratory: Part collaboration space, part laboratory on Social Business Design, it’s where we invite our ecosystem to engage us. It’s the starting point from which we help businesses capture value through Social Business Design.
This is an interesting and ambitious idea and one I think many companies will have trouble embracing and executing. Allowing vendors, agents, clients, consumers, partners and yes, critics, into your ecosystem makes you vulnerable and requires a willingness to relinquish power in ways that companies just aren’t traditionally set up to do. But the potential benefits would seem to make a powerful argument in favor of trying this radical new approach.
I imagine that if a company could successfully integrate this type of collaboration, they would move towards a model where decisions are not only made faster, but that group buy in on those decisions would be much greater, with more constituents feeling they had skin in the game. When several parties have a vested interest in the successful execution and completion of a project, real momentum is generated.
How can brands and consumers work together to create new and innovative marketing solutions? Will we see more creative agencies like Dachis Group, Anomaly and BBH Labs look to partner with clients for mutually beneficial revenue opportunities, rather than simply serve as vendors? I think the smart, agile companies will lead this collaborative charge and have a real jump on those who will be dragged into it.