Don’t you ever get Dell’d !

Reading an article about a day in the life of Michael Dell – I know that kind of curiosity is really not to be outlined in our professional serious world, but hey, this is a blog – I discovered that quote from Michael Dell : “Our business model gives us fresh input from our customers every day, telling us what they like and don’t like.” Apparently Michael Dell starts his day by first checking queries and gripes from customers to fine tune his perception on how new products and services are working out for them.

Okay, then it should drive Dell’s stock up or at least in the good direction. I started then to compare some Internet based business model companies selling physical goods : Amazon and eBay. Here is how the Dell, Amazon and eBay respective stocks are comparing on a one year period. Apparently something happened during the first quarter of 2006, eBay just got pumped up. When you take a look at compared trends for 2006, Dell gets news references volume but eBay gets the search volume.

Well, we all know eBay relies on a business model which is natively Web 2.0, where the sold goods are coming from consumers themselves and trust is building upon consumers rating each other. This is neither Dell nor Amazon core business models. Apparently Dell is not paying attention to some ugly trends highlighted in blogs as this one, though it’s aging a bit, to the point where Fast Company coined the term getting Dell’d i.e. not reacting to on-line buzzing complaints about your brand services and products which quickly drives your sales or stock down (or both). Ugly isn’t it ? Fellow marketers, you don’t want to be marketing a brand that gets hype that way.

Finally, Amazon is struggling with classical financial analysis about their fourth quarter earnings while eBay gets headlines on how they’re looking to cash in on on blogs growth – about 75,000 new blogs a day for a total of 35M.

My take on this is : don’t you ever get Dell’d. Appoint a Marketing 2.0 executive that you’d call Chief Voice of Customers Officer, with Web 2.0 as the only authorized marketing media.

Customers as co-innovators in Marketing ?

As the Web 2.0 paves the way for customers to express directly their needs, behaviors, product usage, and desires, and as product innovation is center stage in many industries, I found this question to become front stage nowadays.

As you can see from Forrester study among marketing executives back in 2005, capturing customer needs was still executed via very classical methods.

On line conduits and particularly blogs were not very high on the list. What would it be today and moving forward, especially in the industries where we can assume most of our customers and prospects are on-line ?

Take a quick look at the Forrester focus on what they’ve been calling Innovation Networks and multiple examples in a wide range of industries including consumer goods (e.g. P&G, IBM, Fitch, Tecnomatix, …).
Procter & Gamble is probably a good reference to all of us in marketing. Well, they are inviting all of the innovators on-line to engage with them on a site created by yet.com a specialized consulting firm in that area.

But numerous other brands are connecting lead users directly to their R&D team on-line through collaboration tools to drive the next innovation. IBM, a major competitor to the company I’m working for, is even trying to do business out of this new trend with their On-Demand Innovation Services (ODIS).

This post is not the place for me to expand on this demonstration that customers are now fully empowered to be co-innovators to your brand, but I think you’re getting it at this point if you were not already exposed to this trend before. What is valid for large and established corporations among the Fortune 500 for R&D, should be a reality for us in Marketing, whatever the size of our company. In the Marketing 2.0 era, company size is not a major handicap anymore.

As I was stating earlier, the strategic challenge for a company is to do the things that will make people want to do business with it, rather than marketing its products and services. As such, we should embark on a journey where lead customers and influencers can collaborate with us on-line and live to better define what are the most effective and relevant communication vehicles – together with the messaging – from our brand to the outside world rather than keep brainstorming in isolation – even with our preferred communication agency – to infuse pseudo innovation in our strategic planning.

This is about Marketing 2.0.

Marketing Myopa and Web 2.0

Theodore Levitt died last week at 81. For all of us reading HBR about marketing, this is probably as a period closing as the recent loss of Peter Drucker for management. I don’t know what your reaction is when you receive such a headline, but I naturally go back to my library and start to open again these old books I read many years ago.

My notes and highlights on each of these take me back to what my thinking and marketing interest was at that time. Marketing Myopa, republished in July 2004, was a huge success as the example of the railroad industry myopa : focusing on railroads instead of thinking about their business as the transportation of people and goods. Closer to our times, Airline Carriers had to expand their thinking about competition to include fax machines and e-mail as their most profitable customers were business men negotiating contracts.

This is still with us today in the IT world and some crucial questions around the software business for instance. Is the software industry about selling licences for static installed software on personal computers or delivering functionalities to subscribers over the network ? To put it more specifically, is Microsoft business model history and Google or Salesforce.com taking over ? Or even more bluntly : do we still need to own a PC ?

Okay, this is a bit sarcastic, the way I’m asking it is pretty much showing what the answer is in my opinion. By the way, we know Ray Ozzie has a huge challenge in front of him to reinvent Microsoft inside out. As I did have the great opportunity to meet him several times when working for Lotus Development in the nineties, when marketing his flagship product Lotus Notes, I personally know Ray will be up for it.

So, revisiting these classics with the Web 2.0 in mind can be very refreshing. As Marketing Myopa already taught us back in the sixties (I was still a kid!), the strategic challenge for a company is to do the things that will make people want to do business with it more than focus on selling its products or services. Today, our customers and prospects can tell the world what they want, what they care about and what they think of our corporations in a very direct and public manner. The Web 2.0 is a fantastic vehicle to redefine the way we assess their needs and desires.

Dear fellow marketers, let’s take this in our marketing plan for the future … today.

Web 2.0 goes world-wide

This is the week break. Isn’t it the right time to think about what we’ve achieved during the first half of this year. What did we change in the way we execute marketing ? Did we learn new things ?

To me this 2006 H1 has been really the time for Web 2.0 to enter marketer’s life world-wide, not only in the US. The number of conferences, meetings, and blogs mentioning Web 2.0’s impact on the way we think about marketing is really amazing.
I’m based out of Paris, sharing my time with the Bay Area. Over time, I’ve noticed as an indicator that when a buzz is suddenly spreading new seminars in Paris, it really means that this new buzz is now international and going to be a real wave. The one I attended last week was one of these signals.

Naturally when living in the Bay Area, Web 2.0 is just already there ! The impact on marketing is real. That being said, how many marketers are really taking advantage of it? How many of us are encouraging our customers to express their opinion on our product and services ? How many of us are considering communities as the main vehicle for awareness ? Even in the Bay Area ?
Not many as far as I know. Please react here with your experience if different.

This is why I felt to start this new blog and called it Marketing 2.0. To me a real new era is starting for Marketing where

  • consumers and customers are fully empowered,
  • directly in dialog with your brand,
  • your messages can now be mass-customized and relationship is really two ways,
  • to get through the clutter of advertising overload, your brand needs to speak the truth
  • and it get worse : change is now constant, you cannot rest on what you’ve been learning over the last Quarter.