As a part of my commitment to focusing on bigger ideas, I’ve been thinking a lot about the shift in business from transactions to relationships. Specifically about the fact that traditional marketing has been almost exclusively concerned with generating a transaction – the sale – whilst business is now almost exclusively built through developing and cultivating relationships which reduce acquisition and/or marketing expenses, create long-term value and help to lower operating costs by reducing the need for expensive R&D.
As I am a fan of models I’ve tried to capture all of this in one handy chart:
Sidenote: For the one or two people who still read this blog and have been paying attention – you will notice that this is almost identical to the chart I posted a few days ago to describe the ideal content model for a brand. Primarily this is because, as Christian pointed out recently, content strategy is really not a separate function from marketing strategy. In today’s world you can’t do one without considering the other and, IMHO, one of the reasons for the lackluster adoption of content strategy is that it creates artificial boundaries between different aspects of marketing that aren’t helpful.
The chart explained, moving from left to right:
- Enabling customers to collaborate on product development delivers a number of benefits like improving your research effectiveness while lowering your research costs. It can also deliver much better insight into real demand, which should improve your forecast, and supply and distribution chains.
- Customers who collaborate in developing products are almost certainly more likely and willing to advocate for those products either directly to their networks or indirectly through platforms you create which can capture and aggregate their recommendations and opinions.
- With a little creativity, your platform can serve content which is both appealing and interesting to prospective customers and can engage and convert them into actual customers
- As your platform grows it can then become quite compelling to a wide range of content creators who want to reach audiences similar to your customers and who will be willing to collaborate with you to develop even better content.
- Additionally, a platform that reaches a good percentage of your best customers will probably be a much better channel for stimulating additional purchases than an advertising campaign and can probably be shown to be more effective.
- Finally, if the content you create is good enough, media property owners may help you redistribute it at little or no costs because it also helps to serve the audiences that they attract.
While it may not be possible to reach a state of absolute perfection – where the ecosystem is able to feed itself without requiring lots of additional financial investment to keep it going – it is fairly clear that the primary “fuel” for this model is NOT paid media, it is creativity and collaboration. The ability for brands to succeed in this model depend upon their ability to create long term relationships not upon their ability to inspire transactions. Ultimately, I think this model creates far better alignment between marketing and business success today. What do you think?