Saturday, October 10, 2009

Paperless Mark"e"ting and crowdsourcing

I had written about the power of one liners on my previous blog and had ended it with how it someday will start benefiting B2B marketing as much as it would B2C today. But I thought that it certainly is worthwhile discussing how this power has been utilized currently, and will gradually be advanced in the B2C space. For product vendors as well as service providers launch of new services or products happen every other day in some region or the other and hence the need to create awareness and gather feedback is vital! Consumer goods manufacturers and retailers can easily gather feedback through the increase in footfalls and through reviews at the malls directly and they do it, but think of the reach and efforts and investments they have to put in to gather this data, with the global tastes and choices of the end consumers as much as the increase in changing expectations from the customers it's important to transmit different forms of communication in different region. Also look at those retailers or vendors who rely completely on the online channel for e.g brands like Dell, Southwest airlines, best-buy etc. These companies have already taken the power of twitter seriously. They have not just started promoting the launch of new products and services to the consumers through tweets, but also started gathering the feedback and providing customer support through Twitter. Some of them have even taken technical support to a different new dimension altogether where they are making the "collective intelligence" of the people solve problems of each other by being able to tweet on the forums and take solutions from others to solve the problem they could be facing with there computers.

Take this hypothetical scenario of a Dell user facing starting problem with his laptop and instead of calling technical support they reach out to the "Tweet force" - this word is coined by me! Tweet force in return would have a set of experts from the Dell end user itself who have by virtue of there knowledge solved Technical problems like these for many other end users of Dell applications and have been made beneficiaries of Dell rewards - and they help this user solve the problem. This scenario sounds familiar when you look at reviews for purchasing so that the end user buys exactly what others have bought and experienced, but this aspect of crowd-sourcing is taken to a different level altogether since here the beneficiary is not just the end user who has managed to sort his trouble but also the company itself-in this case Dell. I believe a solid Tweet force like this might help a company like Dell reduce so much of its customer support cost directly impacting the bottom-line.

While the above example is hypothetical and it involves a superior (Business Intelligence)BI tool to analyze this "Tweet-force" performance and the reliance on this non-committed force could certainly be challenging. Hence it would really mean putting in serious heads together to come up with the working model, but I see the entire B2C business headed towards this model. I would repeat that if a company especially in the online business does not start thinking towards making the most of this crowd-sourcing they would suffer a big setback in times to come.

Before I end this blog, I want to highlight an amazing platform that has been put together for businesses to solve complicated problems through crowd-sourcing. Innocentive- while this forum has been in existence only for last few years I have seen several multinationals trying their luck (many successfully) towards getting their most challenging problems solved and innovations kick-started by virtue of this collective intelligence! Would talk about this platform in one of the subsequent blogs.