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Your Customer controls your Brand

Forrester Research has always been the best of the major IT research firms at straddling the B2C and B2B worlds with an integrated perspective.  There is a lot that B2B technology vendors can learn from the Consumerization of IT trend spurred by social media, cloud computing and enterprise mobility. The main takeaway of these trends can be boiled down to this: “Customers are in control.”  There are 4 major themes:

  1. Your customers aren’t listening anymore.
    We live is a skeptical age.  Trust is down.  Company and brand messages are ignored.  There is simply too much noise out there.  Customers are listening to each other, not you.  They are talking, so you must listen instead.  They are newly empowered, so engage them on their terms.  Listen, respond, and learn from the messages they send each other about your products and your brand. Most of all – be “of service”. Help them, don’t sell.
  2. Innovation should come from your customers.
    There are many flavors of innovation (design, process, product, etc.), but they all should share a common source.  Whatever the initiative, innovation drives should reflect how customers use your product or service, how they communicate with each other about you, and what they want your brand to mean.
  3. Harness the power of social computing.
    Social isn’t about “likes” and “follows” – it’s about fostering collaborative networks.  Engage your customers with blogging, tweeting, podcasting, video, and other content marketing tactics.  Any forum that promotes viral marketing and word of mouth is better received by buyers and customers alike than a top-down, dictatorial approach. Ditch the pitch.
  4. Open source ain’t just an engineering term.
    Open source development is all about taking an outside-in approach to the product evolution process.  But this business model is beginning to impact traditional B2B marketing processes as well.  Internal process improvement initiatives (service, support, etc.) should strive to receive as much information as possible from the outside and incorporate findings into design and implementation.  Forrester asserted that insights from secondary research studies trump traditional primary research methods in uncovering perceptions of your brand in the marketplace today.

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