Thursday, October 30, 2008

237 individuals come together for a noble cause

Early this year, 237 bloggers from the marketing, research and associated streams, from 15 countries across the world decided to partcipate in a collaborative venture called the 'Age of Conversation 2' to raise money for Variety, the children's charity. All proceeds from sales of the book, available in hardcover and softcover editions, as well as a downloadable e-book, will be donated to Variety, the international children’s charity.

My chapter in AOC 2 on "Interactivity in the digital age" talks about improving the interactivity of an online marketing communication tool for better brand communication. The thoughts included in the chapter are based on my research paper: "Improving Corporate Blog Interactivity for increased brand communication" which can be downloaded from the research library at Customerthink-the global thought leader in customer-centric business strategy.

The primary thought behind the book-

The marketing industry is abuzz about how citizen marketers are changing the landscape, and these books capture that new phenomenon from a uniquely global vantage point.

The Age of Conversation 2 is available as a downloadable e-book, at a cost of $12 and a limited number of printed books in hardcover for $29.95, and softcover for$19.95.

Purchases can be made online at More information can be seen online at the Age of Conversation.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Keywords and content attractiveness

Having the right keywords for your blog-

Keywords are words you need to have on your blog that search engines look for as they crawl through your site, helping them categorize your blog’s content. They obviously are also the words people type into a search engine and need to be on a blog to help it appear in the search results.

That's the premise of internet marketing.......

As I sprinkled the right keywords, through a set of posts on my blog to aid categorisation, a post on the 4 C's of marketing, placed over 15 months back, surprisingly has garnered the highest volume of hits. The ability of the most basic concept of Marketing to generate that volume of interest on the internet as a medium, is interesting to note.

Food for thought:The correlation between keywords and ability to generate content attractiveness in a corporate blog would be interesting to look at.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Corporate Blogging Series VIII-Driving Consumer Engagement through a corporate blog

General Motors has been using it's Corporate Blog as a marketing tool to change brand perceptions and build consumer engagement.It would be interesting to know how the kind of content posted by an organization drives consumer engagement.

My article on Customerthink
A Troubled General Motors blogs to connect with it's customers
which has been featured under the category CRM, has been created out of findings of research being pursued on a set of corporate blogs to look at content categorization and how content attractiveness can build consumer engagement, which is an integral component of the CRM endeavours of any organization.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Social CRM-Finally......


Recognition for Web 2.0 as a tool for CRM!!!

Courtesy: Oracle

An Oracle Appcast with Oracle V.P, CRM Solutions

While summarising the state of CRM industry, Anthony Lye, Vice Prseident, CRM Solutions-Oracle talks about changes in the CRM Technology in the last 3 years, where he highlights the emergence of Web 2.0 as a tool for CRM.

Relevant points-

1.Emergence of web 2.0 and its ability to extract innovation by enabling people to participate, socialise and collaborate has generated huge opportunities.

2.Web 2.0, by ushering in an era of collaboration and social partiicpation, has, for the first time in the history of computing, brought about the fact that technology on the internet leads technology on the intranet.

Key points relevant to Corporate Blogging here-

A Corporate Blog-a Web 2.0 outcome, is an excellent tool in an integrated organisational context, for the dimensions of-
a)Interactive Marketing
as an instrument in the value chain, specifically in terms of communication of value to the customer.
as in ability to create a brand image by influencing consumer perceptions and hence diverting greater traffic to websites.
c)The Customer Relationship
as in a vital tool for consumer engagement.

As per my suppositions in this field an year back,
i)Customer Acquisition and Customer Retention were the twin CRM objectives for any organisation(Shainesh)
ii)Customer Acquisition was a result of collective organisational efforts directed towards marketing and branding.
iii)Retention was a result of the organisational ability to drive brand loyalty through directing efforts towards customer engagement and satisfaction.

Just when the entire contribution of Web 2.0 to the entire fabric of marketing, branding and customer relationship was on the verge of going down in history under the segment of 'Interactive Marketing' alone, merely for want of acceptance from a reputed name in the field of CRM, the announcement by Oracle has been timely!!!

With Gartner recognising Corporate Blogging and Oracle pitching in for Web 2.0, the evolution process of Social CRM, over the next couple of years, will be interesting to watch.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Corporate Blogging Series VII-The Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2008

The Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2008, lists Behavioral Economics, Mobile Robots, Surface computers, Augmented reality, Cloud Computing and Microblogging as the new upcoming technologies.

As per a series of Gartner's studies, over the years, each technology passes through the phases of

1.Technology Trigger
2.Peak of Inflated Expectations
3.Trough of disillusionment
4.Slope of enlightenment
5.Plateau of productivity
during its lifecycle

Gartner’s own summary is this:

[…] "Although Web 2.0 is now entering the Trough of Disillusionment, it will emerge within two years to have transformational impact, as companies steadily gain more experience and success with both the technologies and the cultural implications," said Jackie Fenn, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "Later - in between two and five years - cloud computing and service-oriented architecture (SOA), which is moving up the Slope of Enlightenment, will deliver transformation in terms of driving deep changes in the role and capabilities of IT. Finally, public virtual worlds, which are suffering from disillusionment after their peak of hype in 2007, will in the long term represent an important media channel to support and build broader communities of interest."

Some interesting aspects here-

1.Microblogging(Twitter) seems to have some scope ...
2.Web 2.0 has a good chance of achieving the promise that is currently seen as so much hype.
3.Corporate Blogging,seems to be emerging out of the Trough of disillusionment and is significantly slotted in the category of "LESS THAN 2 YEARS" to mainstream adoption.
4.Social Network analysis is within 2-5 years of mainstream adoption.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Branding and Marketing in the Web 2.0 world

The application of the participatory nature of Web 2.0 and the ability of viral proliferation is being leveraged by the Marketing function.

Peter Kim's list of 162 brands using social media for marketing

As organizations struggle with market coverage and penetration strategies, Web 2.0 offers numerous tools to aid the organizational endeavour to reach the consumer.
With a distinct price advantage, and the ability to build a brand online, building brand identity, meaning and forging brand relationships seem to be the order of the day.

A Corporate blog is a perfect tool for connecting a well defined brand strategy to online presence enhancement. Provision of the capacity for monitoring consumer responses to a brand through the user comments,will soon bring corporate blogging into mainstream adoption.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Corporate 2.0

Over 35 examples of organisations using social media to build consumer engagement
35+ Examples....

Apple, Kodak and Sony are other corporates which could have made it to the list.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Web 2.0 enterprise and the customer

A McKinsey survey on usage of Web 2.0 tools in organisations has some interesting results.

1.Tools they looked into:Web services, Blogs, RSS, Wikis, Podcasts, Social networking, Peer to Peer and Mashups.

2.Out of the agendas for adoption, focussing on interactions with customers has emerged as an important objective.

3.Adoption of Web 2.0 has changed the way organisations interact with their customers and suppliers.

4.Getting customer participation in product development, improving customer services, customer aquisition and enabling customer interaction were the core utilities of these tools in the ' Interfacing with Customers' category.

5. Adoption of managerial methods to encourage adoption and reduce barriers to these tools made sense in a competitive scenario where adopters of these technologies would end up with a decided competitive edge.

6. While these tools are being used for internal and external communication, usage for co-creation may soon evolve into usage for driving innovation.

The full report-Building the Web 2.0 enterprise

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Corporate Blogging Series VI-Indian Corporate Blogs

The latest addition to corporate blogs in India, after Infosys ,Tata Interactive Systems Ltd., and Frito Layis the Indian auto giant Mahindra and Mahindra.

Named the Mahindra Universe, the blog revolves around 4 thought processes-
Customer Centricity

With respect to Customer Centricity, the blog says-

Mahindra aims for a long-term engagement with its customers and encourages customer loyalty and advocacy by responding to their changing needs and expectations speedily, courteously and effectively. Engaged customers ensure a business of sustained and profitable growth.

With about 30 posts in a 3 month time span, it will be interesting to follow the usage of the blog by the organisation.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Emergent Social Software Platforms-The list of FAQs

Professor Andrew McAfee at Harvard Business School has compiled an exhaustive list of the frequent causes of organisational dilemmas towards adoption of emerging social software platforms.Primarily relevant to the set of organisational setups who are still very skeptical about the possible chances of misuse of these platforms by employees.

A must read-
Some questions you might get asked

Professor Mc Afee's research on enterprise 2.0 is a reference place for organisations attempting to weave these social software innovations into the corporate setup.

Further reading-
Web 2.0 in the enterpriseby Michael Platt from Microsoft.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Corporate Blogging Series V-8 reasons why organisations should blog.

Andrew Rudin's post at Customerthink raises a pertinent question with respect to an ideal social media tool for salespeople.

My take on this-

Social media is a good tool to track prospects through social networking sites and highlight product benefits. The negative implication obviously lies in this being a short term solution.To work on that, salespeople can team up and form online communities which can also help reduce post purchase dissonance or doubts and at the same time help the organisational customer centric strategies by allowing a peep into the consumer mind through analysis of the member conversations.

My view on the right social media tool for the job is an organisational blog.There are too many shiny new web 2.0 objects,and social networking sites can help form groups faster(so a good short term approach) but i still think that a blog may make more sense.

1.The blog can serve as a virtual brand communication tool and selected salespeople can join hands and benefit from each other's posts and consumer comments.It is easier to update than the organisational website.

2.By posting content relevant to the consumer organisations can give them a reason to revisit the site.

3.A blog post will optimise better on search engines.

4.It will equally serve the purpose of a community.

5.Ownership of an employee contribution on the organisational blog lies with the organisation.

6.Blog audiences appear to be more focussed- so discussions will be more meaningful.

7.The organisation can link back to all consumer evangelists blogging about the organisational products and hence try to reign in the consumer generated media to some degree.

8.The organisation can participate in the online dialogue that consumers or the relevant industry as a whole is involved in.

9.Tracking and monitoring consumer sentiment becomes easier.

As I researched varied types of content on organisational blog posts, I was able to identify at least 25 different types of the same. A factor analysis should help categorise the same into relevant content categories.

Somewhere this appears a more subtle, more relationship marketing way of getting a customer...doesn't it?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Forbes Business and Financial Blog Network

Last month my mail inbox had an email with the following subject-
Business and Financial Blog Network: an invitation to join:

The text ran something like this-

"You are invited to join the new community of the high quality business and financial bloggers from Our community, the Business and Financial Blog Network, was launched in March, 2008.We chanced upon your blog in a google search........

The Blog Network’s content will focus on senior business decision makers and high-net-worth investors. Topics will be relevant to the banking, trading, hedge fund management, affluent investing, and senior business decision-making communities. Participation in the network is by invitation only, and all blogs are vetted by editors for appropriate content, and to ensure that they are in keeping with the Forbes editorial brand.
Your blog will be promoted to our roster of blue-chip advertisers and we will only run campaigns that are appropriate for the audience. "

I joined the network and for all those bloggers who would like to do the same, click on the network ads located in the right margin or in the footer and then let forbes take a call....
For those interested in hosting ads on your blogs, look up Google adsense.Google AdSense matches ads to your site's content, and you earn money whenever your visitors click on them.

Happy blogging!!!!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Corporate Blogging Series IV:Content Attractiveness and the Consumer.

Debbie Weil’s post on tools to measure the success of a corporate bloghighlights the usage of Google Analytics to measure statistics, page views, unique visits, time on site, maximum page views and feedburner to track RSS.

She also talks about inbound links to the corporate blog. Technorati rankings make sense, but I still feel that Technorati Authority will be a better measure. The take on comments is relevant, as comments appear to be a better measure of consumer interest than no. of unique page visits and time spent by a user on an exploratory search, who happened to land onto the particular webpage. Though useful from a long term point of view for generating brand impact, of greater interest to an organisation is a somewhat ‘engaged’ user who is significantly emotional about the brand enough to comment on an organisational post. What is more interesting here, than the kind of post which garnered the maximum views is the kind of post which garnered the maximum comments!!

Blogs attempt to change the flow and balance of information and try to shape perceptions by presenting a unified mass market branding image which can be confronted by a counter flow of dissenting opinions, alternative sources of information and messages.It is these opinions which are reflected through the user comments that are significant.

In this context, a user perception survey for content on a corporate blog can help categorise content into different categories. Further, ascertaining no. of comments per post in each category separately and statistically analysing the same can add value to the process of generating accountability for a blog.

Content attractiveness may well hold the key to building consumer engagement through social media.After all, a post responding to a brand related controversy may generate far more consumer interest than one about the organisation's CSR initiatives!!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Social media reading

Some interesting Social media reads-

Frank Gruber's Social media list

K D Paine's Measurement tools for online media

Eric Peterson's Voice of the customer-Qualitative data as a critical input to website optimisation
An excellent demonstration of how some where, when, who,what, why questions pertaining to visitor interaction on the internet.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Corporate Blogging Series III-Consumer Engagement,Technorati authority and CGM

Research clearly indicates that organisations have accepted 2 facts-
1.Cultivating a respectable level of customer engagement is a strategic challenge.
2.The volumes and degree of consumer engagemnets will have long term implications for a firm.

Let's take a look at social media's role in this entire talk about consumer engagement.

Mario Sundar at the Linkedin Corporate Blog lists the top fifteen corporate blogs on the basis of their technorati authority.

Technorati authority is a measure of the number of blogs linking into the blog under discussion.In other words, technorati authority is indicative of-
1)Popularity of a blog as in terms of voulme of readers.
2)Volume of user generated content about a blog, with those many other users having generated content regarding that particular organisation, brand or product.

For the purpose of this discussion on corporate blogs, let us assume that a significant number of visitors to the blogs in question are customers-prospective and current.

Further, as per Ghuneim’s typology of engagement, a customer who comments on an online organisational initiative measures ‘medium’ on the degree of engagement continuum while a customer who creates content, as in blog about an organisation, brand, product, or service rates as 'highly engaged'.

Hence, the technorati authority can be safely assumed to be indicative of the volume of significantly ENGAGED consumers.The study of CRM could significantly benefit by taking into account the technorati authority of these corporate blogs, to track the volumes of consumer engagement.

Some observations-
1.There is a positive correlation between the reach(percentage of global internet users who visit the site) of a blog( and the Technorati authority of the corporate blog.
2.There is a positive correlation between the Technorati authority of a corporate blog and the volume of Consumer Generated Media(source : Blogpulse).

Engagement refers to the creation of experiences that allow companies to build deeper, more meaningful and sustainable interactions between the company and its customers and appears to be the first step for any corporate towards building consumer loyalty, satisfaction, involvement and evangelism. Social media sure seems to provide a way.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sneak preview of my AOC'08 chapter

My Age of Conversation'08 chapter is titled 'Interactivity in the digital age' and talks about the characteristics of interactivity and how important certain interactive features are in building brand equity and consumer engagement through online tools.
Wait for August'08 to read the complete chapter!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Corporate Blogging Series II: Blogging and the Brand

Perusing through several corporate blogs to understand the objectives behind their existence, customer aquisition and retention appear important thoughts behind the strategic management decision to host the same.

To promote Customer Acquisition by building brand equity by
a)Showcasing organisational growth
b)Clarifying organisational vision, opinion and direction for consumers,
c)Image Building and
d)Brand Building

Acquisition is a vital stage and a focused and contextual interaction with the customers is beneficial to any organization for furthering it's brand. A corporate blog helps create a forum for open and integrated channels of communication between brand and consumer by enabling interactivity between brand and consumer.

Blogging is fast becoming an extremely important strategy for any online marketer.Research shows that organisations after having commenced blogging have climbed up the Alexa traffic rankings. As news articles about a relevant industry, product updates, interviews, insights into topics of importance to the target audience emerge on the blog, they create a subscriber base, the way people subscribe to the daily newspaper. This way regular updates on products, features etc. can reach the niche consumer base at a fast speed. Good quality relevant content, constant updation and creation of a blog environment where ideas flourish and debates on related topics keep people from the target market coming back is what works for these organisations

People who read organizational blogs perceive an organization's relational maintenance strategies as demonstrating more of a conversational human voice than those who read only the organization's traditional Web content or those in a control group who read Web content unrelated to the organization(Kellehar,Miller,2006)

The CISCO Blog is an open discussion forum where Cisco leaders address key technology issues and where community interaction is encouraged. By hosting a blog with the above viewpoint CISCO first built an image of the company as an authority in technology and developed a community to share its ideas.After developing a dignified readership base, by posting entries like “Patent Board: CISCO is #1 Leader in Telecom”, Cisco has managed to create an image of a highly competitive company which is centre-of-the business-universe telecommunications. Also, by featuring excellent reviews from the Fortune, Wired and Financial Times, CISCO has done well to use its blog effectively towards brand promotion!

The corporate blog of Tata Interactive Systems(TIS), gives a peek into the work being done and products being launched by TIS for learning disabilities of children with special educational needs, by showcasing the Tata Learning Disability Forum, Also, by hosting a category 'Life at TIS', TIS shares its organisational culture with the world.

Corporate Social Responsibility Blogs , like those of Mc Donald's and Hewlett Packard are fast catching on. With Mc Donald's discussing issues closer to health, nutrition and food safety , this endeavour contributes to an image building exercise, as a company valuing quality of food provided to the consumers. This is a good effort for a company which has faced a lot of criticism towards promoting unhealthy food habits.

From the perspective of Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, blogging is not an appendage to Sun’s marketing communications strategy today-it is central to it. Blogs have authenticated the Sun brand more than any typical advertising campaign and associated with Sun a respectable degree of tenacity and authenticity.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Corporate Blogging Series-I : Corporate Blogs can make organisations customer centric.

I start a Corporate blogging series today and this is the first of the posts in the sequence. The series shall aim at sharing small anecdotes and snippets as part of my research in the area. While empirical studies are reserved for being published in different journals, some interesting organisational issues will be brought into focus.

For starters I republish an article published at Customerthink in August 2007 on General Motors and it's corporate blog!!.

Corporate Blogs can make organisations customer centric.

As senior executives from General Motors tried to figure out ways to understand market sentiment, a suggestion from a reader on the GM Fastlane blog caught the eye of executives. It said:

Offer a "green" alternative for every model you market and do it now. Hybrids tend to be expensive and clunky, but the technology is rapidly evolving and GM is behind.

Almost a year later, GM announced the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid car touted, not so much as a mode of transportation, but as part of a solution to the nation's energy crisis.

If you want to make your business customer-centric, you need a good CRM strategy that aims at providing a good platform for both your organization and your customer. This customer-centric modus operandi should pay adequate attention to the customer's process of product adoption. And it should focus on issues ranging from options available to customers and suitable promotional campaigns to showcase your product and managing the buzz about your product to concentrating on what your existing customers have to say.

The idea is to keep your current and prospective customers not only up to date with the developments in your organization but also involved by giving them a platform to share their views. The same platform can again be used to provide clarifications to any information circulating in the environment.

Auto giant GM used its blog to manage and nurture its relationships with customers. The blog, as you probably know, evolved from "weblog," a personal diary posted on a web page. Now it has come to mean opinionated posts, and smart corporations like GM are learning that they can serve as a powerful tool for gauging customer opinion.

As GM vehicles improved and quality and reliability issues were addressed, GM executives understood that the auto maker still was losing market share, as consumers found more value and more of what they wanted in other brands.

A peek
So executives decided to use the blog to gain a peek into what customers thought. They formulated a customer retention strategy involving exploring and evaluating customer expectations and establishing strategies through examining feedback. In a post in February 2006, Bob Lutz, GM's vice chairman, outlined the company's current fixation. with consumer consideration levels. On a post querying the general public on how GM could increase awareness, improve its public image and serve the customers better, Lutz outlined details of how GM's vehicles had won the MotorWeek Driver's Choice Awards, the Intellichoice Best Overall Value Awards and the Autobytel Consumer Choice Award.

He, hence, was using his post not only as a data-gathering mechanism but also as a brand-building opportunity. The post garnered 339 comments, ranging from suggestions on product overhauling to pricing strategies to advertisement campaigns to new marketing strategies and product comparisons with competitors. While some respondents, whose ages ranged from 22 to 55 (based on their profiles and what they shared in their contributions), went on to suggest strategies"such as making entry level cars the best; training dealers to making interiors nicer; and sharpening its focus and its brand recognition"others went far beyond that by suggesting joint ventures with Ford or even hiring Bill Clinton as a spokesman. One suggestion on offering "green" alternatives, however, appears to have struck a chord. Organizational decisions are not taken on basis of singular ideas, but customer opinions always matter"as you could see with the launch of a similar vehicle a year later.

At a Detroit auto show, GM executives unveiled plans to build the Chevy Volt, and the vehicle's touted environmental breakthrough generated buzz"and gave birth to some controversy. The Detroit News' Autos Insider carried a piece that refuted GM's claims and abilities to deliver the promise.

But here, again, the blog served the company's purpose. GM lashed back with a response on the blog from Lutz titled, GM Charging Ahead With Volt. In it, he reiterated GM's commitment to deliver what was promised and tackle any technological obstacles in the way, while also committing to be as transparent as possible in this process. The post attracted 121 comments, with at least 50 percent of the comments applauding GM's endeavors and its commitment to its mission. The naysayers ended up losing a lot of steam!.

A careful look at the collaborative web shows that corporate blogging is fast emerging as a viable option for corporations to evoke value perception in the mind of a customer. Enhancing a company's current data repository tools with a wiki (a web site that allows users to add and change content) or a blogging platform can greatly improve the quality, timeliness and collective power of the data, thereby affecting a customer's perception of value, improving customer satisfaction and retention.

Marketers can use blogs for brand management, to build credibility and to gain customer trust, as well as for relationship management. The GM Fastlane Blog allows the car maker to engage in a focused and contextual interaction with its customers, demonstrating that the company values customers' roles as "initiators," "influencers," "deciders," "buyers" and "users."

In my experience in the field of business development, I recognize that customers want to be listened to. They do not want to be passive receptors of a company's sales pitch.

By implementing a well-thought-out blogging strategy and encouraging a good level of community goodwill that, in turn, can be measured in terms of happier customers, you can leverage the power of your corporate blog to gain a real-time competitive advantage for managing relationships with your customers.

Granted, it lacks the sophistication of customizable monitoring and reporting tools marketers generally use to measure the effectiveness of a promotional campaign, but it's a simple way to keep track of customer sentiment. If you know what your customers feel and can connect to them emotionally, you've managed to make your organization customer-centric to quite an extent.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Age of Conversation 2.0

The Age of Conversation 2.0: Why Don’t People Get It?’ is a collective endeavour of 275 authors, who are going to write on a myriad range of subjects relevant to the social media space, breaking geographical barriers and creating history with respect to the voluminous degree of particpation in an era of virtual collaboration.

A participatory,conversational, creative selection of perspectives from individuals rooted across diverse global locations, should make interesting reading.

A brainchild of Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton, The Age of Conversation which was a collective venture of over a 100 of the world’s leading marketers, writers, thinkers and creative innovators, turned out to be a successful experiment and received a tremendous response, thereby raising money for Variety, the children's charity.

The authors of the the second book-'Age of Conversation 2.0' are-

Adam Crowe, Adrian Ho, Aki Spicer, Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Arun Rajagopal, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob Carlton, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Bradley Spitzer, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brett Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer, Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley (CK), C.B. Whittemore, Clay Parker Jones, Chris Brown, Colin McKay, Connie Bensen, Connie Reece, Cord Silverstein, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Goldstein, Dan Schawbel, Dana VanDen Heuvel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Darryl Patterson, Dave Davison, Dave Origano, David Armano, David Bausola, David Berkowitz, David Brazeal, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Douglas Hanna, Douglas Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Emily Reed, Eric Peterson, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson, G. Kofi Annan, Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, G.L. Hoffman, Gianandrea Facchini, Gordon Whitehead, Graham Hill, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, J. Erik Potter, J.C. Hutchins, James Gordon-Macintosh, Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace, Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Heilpern, Jeremy Middleton, Jeroen Verkroost, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, Joe Talbott, John Herrington, John Jantsch, John Moore, John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Burg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Flowers, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac, Katie Chatfield, Katie Konrath, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kris Hoet, Krishna De, Kristin Gorski, Laura Fitton, Laurence Helene Borei, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Barnes-Johnston, Louise Mangan, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Marcus Brown, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Mark McSpadden, Matt Dickman, Matt J. McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Hawkins, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Monica Wright, Nathan Gilliatt, Nathan Snell, Neil Perkin, Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul Isakson, Paul Marobella, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Sreeraj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, Beeker Northam, Rob Mortimer, Robert Hruzek, Roberta Rosenberg, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw, Scott Goodson, Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Sean Scott, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Cribbett, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood, Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tiffany Kenyon, Tim Brunelle, Tim Buesing, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Longhurst, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy Worman, Uwe Hook, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja, Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Personality not included-The interview

As Rohit Bhargava, at the Influential Marketing Blog, prepared to launch his book "Personality not included", he sent across a couple of sneak peeks about his book to his online groups.As part of his facebook group, a look at the contents piqued my interest enough to send across a series of questions to him when he offered to respond to a 5 queries each, sent across to him by a set of bloggers, as part of his book promotion.This is part of the innovative Personality not included Interview Series. (Rohit is Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy & Marketing, Ogilvy Public Relations and is atop marketing blogger)

Read on.....You can read the rest of the series here

1.Can Social media help a great brand turn around the lost face value of a company?
I think it can, as long as it is used to give people a deeper look at a company and what it stands for. Dell is a good example of a brand that has managed to do exactly that.

2.You talk about new styles of marketing in your book.How relevant would social media be to 'Participation marketing' and 'Curiosity marketing'?
Social media is perfectly relevant when it comes to the idea of participation marketing. In fact, this is probably heavily about social media in the first place. As for curiosity marketing, that is really described as more of a viral marketing strategy, but could definitely relate to social media as well.

3.Can a corporate blog add to a company's personality?
Of course, in fact this can be a great way of bringing a company's personality to more visiblity.

4.How useful is personality in maintaining customer relationships?Personality is a key element in personal relationships with customers, particularly when it comes to longer relationship types of sales such as those that frequently happen in BtoB sales.

5.How big a role do you think social media can play in enlightening and empowering a consumer?
I believe it plays a very big role and it is a key element of the book to share some insights on how this may happen. For example, one brand that did this particularly well was the new aloft hotel chain from Starwood which allowed customers to collaborate and share feedback on the design of the hotel early in the process and is now in the midst of launching many properties worldwide.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Social media is here to stay

Responses from senior executives across companies in various countries profile an increasing understanding of the use of social media to harness market intelligence and understand consumer perception.(Source:Research done by media company Cymfony)

Monday, March 24, 2008

From Dell to Starbucks:From Ideastorm to My Starbucks Idea

A lot of discussion on organisations using social media as a tool to manage customer relationships has moved around companies using the same for brand visibilty and giving the customers a platform to interact and share, but failing to actually engage customers-as in closing the loop by actually showing the consumer what the company did with those ideas.

Looks like Starbucks was listening-
My Starbucks idea is the response.

As Jeff Jarvis had once rightly said that customers would have conversations about a company, products and services. It hence made more sense for the company to become part of these conversations. A series of branded online communities and corporate blogs followed suite.Starbucks apparently has gone a step forward.By providing a space for consumers to share their thoughts, let others vote on those thoughts and create a point system to rate ideas, it has actually made a concious effort to work on the consumer relationship.

Social media non-believers have screamed in the past about the inability of the medium to clearly showcase what the companies were doing with the consumer feedback or how the same was being leveraged.

This is a case in point!!!!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

CustomerThink Announces Global Awards Program To Recognize Customer-Centric Business Leaders

As per the Press Release dt. 20th March, 2008, California-

In today's connected world, it's more important than ever before for organizations of all sizes to build truly customer-centric business strategies. CustomerThink today is announcing a global awards program to recognize business leaders for initiatives that have delivered win-win results for customers and the organization.

With the opening of the awards nominations, CustomerThink is seeking case histories of companies that have succeeded in a wide range of initiatives, from broad strategic and customer loyalty projects to more tactical efforts aimed at improving customer-centric performance in marketing, sales, customer service, web-based marketing, voice of the consumer and the social web.

CustomerThink Global Awards 2008 is not just another recognition program for CRM technology projects, said CustomerThink founder Bob Thompson. Unfortunately, research has found that "CRM" has come to primarily mean managing customer information or automating processes. Successful customer-centric businesses, however, are the result of the right combination of strategy, metrics, people, processes and technology," Thompson said.

The judges for the awards have a mandate to base their selections for award winners on delivering better value for their customers and, in doing so, building more profitable growth for their organizations. Leadership, ROI and excellence in customer-centric practices will be key factors in selecting the winners.

Nominations may be submitted at
Customerthink Awards 2008

Award nominees (or their delegates) must submit a case study for review by a distinguished panel of industry thought leaders chaired by Thompson and drawn from CustomerThink's 2007-2008 Advisory Councils. The judges are (in alphabetical order):

Vandana Ahuja, Jaypee Institute of Information Technology University (India)
Elana Anderson, NxtERA Marketing (United States)
Olga Botero, Grupo Bancolombia (Colombia)
Silvana Buljan, Smartworxx (Spain)
Francis Buttle, Francis Buttle & Associates P/L (Austrailia)
Daryl Choy, WisdomBoom (Hong Kong)
Jay Curry, Jay Curry Associates (The Netherlands)
Naras Eechambadi, Quaero Corp. (United States)
Mei Lin Fung, Institute of Service Organization Excellence (United States)
Bob Furniss, Touchpoint Associates (United States)
Jack Fujieda, ReGIS Inc. (Japan)
Graham Hill, CACI Sophron (Germany)
John Holland, CustomerCentric Selling (United States)
Bob Kaden, The Kaden Company (United States)
Doug Leather, REAP Consulting (Pty) Ltd (South Africa)
Dick Lee, High-Yield Methods (United States)
Michael Lowenstein, Harris Interactive (United States)
Bill Price, Driva Solutions, LLC (United States)
David Rance, Round (United Kingdom)
Andy Rudin, Outside Technologies, Inc. (United States)
Alan See, Seapine Software (United States)
John Todor, Ph.D., The Whetstone Edge, LLC (United States)
Nominations will be open through May 31, 2008. Category finalists will be selected in June, with winners announced in July. Category finalists will be recognized at regional awards meetings in the September-October time frame. Other recognition will include a memento, mention in a press release and a featured case study on CustomerThink.

About CustomerThink-

CustomerThink, the global thought leader in customer-centric business strategy, was founded in 2000 (as by Bob Thompson, CEO of CustomerThink Corp. The site was renamed to CustomerThink in April 2007. CustomerThink's mission is to help business leaders develop and implement customer-centric business strategies. CustomerThink does this by publishing high-quality articles, blogs and discussion; conducting research on key issues and trends; and facilitating interactions with a global panel of experts.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Brands and Social Media

Gaurav Mishra of Gauravonomics has compiled a list of Marketing, Social Media and Public Relations Blogs in India. Thanx Gaurav, for including my blog in the list!!!

Gaurav's post on why brands should embrace social media is apt-As he says,
Very soon, social media will be the only cost effective way to reach consumers, courtesy the decreasing cost of consumer engagement through this medium.

My take on this-
Social media helps build brand equity like never before..building the most valuable assets of the firm by adding to consumer knowledge by granting the average consumer ease of access and the ability to engage via an interactive medium.
This creates meaningful brand encounters, thereby deepening consumer brand relationshps and influencing consumer perceptions.

A case in point has been Unilever.As Unilever makes it to the no.1 position as the digital marketer of the year 2008, it is interesting to note that the campaign under discussion is for the brand called Suave. Unilever takes advantage of social media by using a neat online community called in the motherhood.The webisodes based on the personal lives of the community members obviously touch a chord with the consumer base.

All the best Gaurav...for achieving your dream of becoming the next marketing guru.(Gaurav is an Assistant General Manager (Brand Head Indica) at Tata Motors.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Marketers and Wikipedia

As Pete Blackshaw gears up to write about 10 uses of wikipedia for marketers, Some of my thoughts about wikipedia-
1.Positioned as an encyclopedia, it is ostensibly a collaborative directory.So listing a product or brand in this directory makes sense...
2.Since a prerequisite to uploading data on wikipedia is citing references independent of source, the uploaded material automatically gets linked to several other sites and material about the product/brand on the web. It's hence a one stop shop for substantial amount of credible data on your product for a wannabe consumer, and the very fact that it is moderated grants authentication to the same.....
3.Making a brand figure prominently in google searches is obviously a foregone conclusion to why marketers should use wikipedia.....

As he wrote to us on the CGM group, i found his references to Wikipedia as a "trust broker" very interesting. The way the grand masters at wikipedia handle discussions, the level of "transparency", as referred to by Pete is commendable. Further, as the grand masters insist that Wikipedia is not a promotional service, articles on a brand or product eventually are written in an academic fashion.In the process the credibility gained by the brand is unmistakable!!!!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Social Media strategy

Graham's comments on my article on 'Building Loyalty the Southwest way ' on Customerthink pointed to the need for companies to have a well defined social media strategy as they venture out into the field to interact with their clients. Graham had a valid point as he was able to demonstrate the lack of engagement on Southwest's part as they used varied social media tools to engage with their customers.
The POST method demonstrated at the Forrester forum is interesting and approporiate to this discussion.
Using social media as an organisational strategy for listening to the customer is not enough. Two important aspects emerge here-
1.Engaging in a conversation with the customer.
2.Using the customer feedback to alter systems/strategies.
3.Using the social media tool to showcase this change in systems through incorporation of feedback.

Bob Thompson had an interesting point to add to the conversation-that of the need to try to use newer offerings of technology in an increasingly competitive market. After all, it is simply a way of staying a step ahead of your competitors.

Peoplecentricity or Customercentricity?

India recently witnessed the launch of the Tata Nano-the “people’s” car-The much awaited $2500 car for the common man. Tata Motors Limited is India's largest automobile company, with revenues of over $USD 7.2 billion.

A car which made it to the TIME most important cars of the century, however, rides on its “people-centricity”-touted as the people’s car…and the understanding that the common man in India wants to move from a two wheeler to a four wheeler…only affording it was a problem…the volume symbolized by the term ‘common man’ in a country like India is obviously a function of the population of the nation!!!! The near stampede , to get a glimpse of the car, that erupted in the Auto-expo where it was showcased is ample reflection of the enthusiasm of the “people”. All these “people” are obviously not in the potential customers category.

The world’s cheapest car, which may yield a transportation revolution, prides itself in being a people-centric endeavour. Some interesting observations-

1. A google search, uses the link to lead to an intrinsically social media driven website for the Tata Nano. Ranging from a Dream Car Configurator (create your dream car and spice it up with features list), options to share your first impression, Contests, Blogs, Forums-it’s all there.

2.Over 12,000 members are already part of the forum(the yet to be made available to the public car made its debut just a fortnight back)….is the volume an indicator of the “people” interested in the product rather than the “customers”? The volume does appear significant in such a duration.

3.The “ Online booking thread” highlighting an increasing demand for the car to be available online garnered 1000+ hits, resulted in a blog post from Subodh Marathe, Head of Marketing Services, Tata Motors…He says-”The option of online car sales is certainly worth exploring and your comments will help us design the right service.” Looks like they are doing the job of listening to the “people”.

The interesting issue here is-The word “people” seems to have more mass appeal than the word “customer”. All the people here cannot be considered to be akin to the word “customer” or can they? How different is the word “Customer” from the word “ People” ? Is Peoplethink a more important dimension than Customerthink ?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tagcrowd of my blog

created at

TagCrowd is a web application for visualizing word frequencies in any user-supplied text by creating what is popularly known as a tag cloud or text cloud.Saw the same at Pete Blackshaw's blog and thought I should give it a try.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Building Knowledge capital through social media

A lot of discussion has already gone into social media's contribution to building brand/customer equity and as a tool to build networks of relationships/friendships- social capital as it is termed.
However, in this era of knowledge management and elearning, two more dimensions of social media’s contribution cannot be ignored-
1.A tool for building a company’s knowledge capital and
2.A tool for learning.

Organisations have started harnessing collaborative intelligence for learning leading to cognitive involvement of the community members. Research has already proven the positive correlation between interactivity and learning outcomes. Interactivity interfaced with technology not only increases learning effectiveness, but also enhances the knowledge base of the community which includes organizational employees, customers and partners.

Be it the Microsoft Developer Network which hosts a series of employee blogs to share tips on software, programming tips and solutions to programming issues or the GE research blogs, or the Sun Microsystem employee Blogs, the volume of company specific knowledge available on these is huge. Sun Microsystem CEO Jonathan Schwartz uses his blog for product announcements and discussion of new knowledge issues as part of his bid to interact with the community. Think of a layman’s ability to gain access to Sun’s whitepaper on multiplatform virtualisation through his online blog!!!!

The accumulation of this company specific information have also made these blogs/online communities virtual repositories to be tapped whenever required. For that matter, think of the quantum of knowledge that can be retrieved regarding a person’s work in an organisation once he leaves, through his contributions to his blogs etc. The human capital may be dynamic, but the knowledge capital stays with the organisation…

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Cocreation through social media

In an era where companies talk about the new form of value creation-Co-creation, where companies are moving away from a company and product centred value creation to an experience centred value creation (Prahlad,Ramaswamy), participation is becoming a desired ingredient. Objectives of co-creation include identifying the right customer set to interact and after identifying the requirements of this customer set, alter product offerings as per requirement of the same.

Some interesting observations from research (Prahlad,Ramaswamy) on Co-creation.
1.In the emerging economic model of value cocreation, consumers and companies routinely collaborate to create personalized value.

2. Cocreation, is not the transfer or outsourcing of activities to customers or a marginal customization of products and services. It isn't scripting or staging of customer events around the company's offerings. Those kinds of company-customer interactions no longer satisfy most consumers today.

It is hence, this procedure of participation which is important.
Co-creation may require a dedicated approach from the management to allow consumers to not exactly take over the brand, but definitely have a larger voice share. However the high involvement opportunity it offers with substantial value growth drives commitment from organizational leadership.

Kraft's use of co-creation
Consumers co-create 48 products they want to buyis a case in point.

Use of social media to build online communities for consumer engagement to leverage the collective intelligence and experience of the community emerges as a strong option for organisations interested in securing consumer participation...they may also need to focus on the experience they provide through these communities to the participating population.

There are consumers interested in getting involved in every stage of the Product life cycle from concept, through post launch and beyond. The bottomline is-there are passionate groups of involved customers willing to PARTICIPATE. It is upto the organizations to identify them, build relationships with them and leverage the immense power of the participating community for organizational growth.