Letting go...the recipient has control
The Internet has a lovely habit of rediscovering itself.
You'll currently find a host of marketers wringing their hands at the possibility of losing control of their brand and messages through the growth of user-generated content and online communities. David Baker sums it up from an email perspective in a recent article.
This fear of losing control should not be new. On my shelf rests a book entitled "Relationship marketing." Published in 2000, it has a whole chapter devoted to "Using new media for customer interaction," where it warns that company influence reaches its limits when company-customer communication is replaced by customer-customer communication.
For me, the message is clear. If you cannot control how your brand, products, services etc. are presented to the public, then there are two requirements of the modern marketer:
1. Ensure that people have positive things to talk about.
2. Dump the hubris and hype.
There are too many alternative information sources to slip untruths and exaggerations past a no-longer-unsuspecting audience. And if people tell other people about their experiences with you, then...surprise!...those experiences need to be good ones.
Particularly when you consider that "telling other people" no longer means just your spouse and work colleagues, but potentially millions of eager customers and prospects linked together through appropriate web technologies.
Which means striving for excellence across the board. Not just in product or service design but everywhere else, too. And especially in customer service.
Which brings us back to email marketing. In his article, David asks whether email marketers are "...building e-mail programs, content and tools that will allow your most loyal fans to syndicate your message, experiences and brand?"
Therein lies the challenge. Not passively relinquishing control of the message, but actively encouraging that process. Provided you have something positive to offer, why wouldn't you want people talking about it?
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