By Jeff Pundyk
We’ve heard a lot of discussion about how marketers are losing control of their medium and their message as digital channels and user-generated content compete for consumers’ attention.
And, indeed, more consumers fast-forward through commercials and are finding their video on the Internet; traditional media properties are losing ground to blogs and social networking sites as the primary source of information, and, of course, consumers are completely absorbed by their smart phones.
Who’s supplying all that content? Not traditional marketers. Other consumers who write reviews, film testimonials, “like,” “friend,” and tweet their tales of good and bad customer service.
It’s an engagement revolution. And, yes, that means some loss of control. But it also means that there a many more ways to engage with consumers. For mid-size growth companies the challenge is not about losing control, it’s about realigning the organization to take full advantage of the many new customer touch points now available.
A truly integrated marketing effort – one that unifies sales, customer service, brand management – has long been given lip service. But it’s usually been a series of discrete activities, run by departments that are often silo-ed. Marketing “owns” the brand while sales “owns” the customer, for instance. Today, as the places where customers and brands meet proliferate, shared ownership becomes a necessity.
Technology offers a way in, but it is a particularly difficult area for mid-sized companies with stretched resources and limited technical capabilities. Technology cannot only insure that the brand is represented at all the digital outposts, but can connect the dots between what happens there and what happens in sales and customer service. But to do so, the technology team needs to be a real voice in developing strategy alongside the other functions, not simply be asked to fill a prescription.
The new customer interactions are pushing organizations out of their comfort zones – into online publishing, community management, real-time customer service, risk management. Organizations need to find new working models to meet the opportunity, ones in which internal functions truly collaborate and share responsibility. Mid-size organizations should look at the engagement revolution just like consumers do – as an opportunity to develop new skills, new tools and, most importantly, new ways of working together.