Friday, August 25, 2006

Italian Bistro Engine

Picture the scene in a charming Italian bistro with plenty of great wine and tasty food.

There are 7 highly experienced marketers and agency owners (5 with silver hair and 2 far too young & trendy) trying to figure out what this revolution in customer communications will mean for their businesses.

I, one of the silver variety, had invited a select few together to figure out if we could / should work together to develop a joint proposition for business blogging and podcasting solutions.

After the best part of 5 hours and several bottles we decided that it would have been great to make a podcast out of our machinations as there was great entertainment value in some of the trains of thought (maybe next time!).

We did all agree on a few things:

(1) It’s not about the technology its all about a sea change in customer expectations, choice and empowerment – which has been enabled by these new technologies like RSS, blogs and podcasts etc.

(2) Most businesses haven’t started doing anything yet and there’s a real need to help companies develop and implement a new interactive communications strategy – but we need to get our skates on as the time for it is now. Although no where near mainstream yet, there is little doubt that the adoption levels have already crossed the chasm and are accelerating rapidly. Key market influencers are likely to be early adopters.

(3) Not all companies are ready to start these conversations – an open culture and/or a real business need are crucial to make a business act. They are likely to be market challengers or smaller / medium sized organisations with every thing to gain and nothing to loose.

(4) Company marketing teams and budgets are generally stretched with existing activities, our proposition should be complete, from education and analysis through to implementation. The costs are low relative to traditional marketing programs - its all down to the corporate commitment to really put the customer at the heart of the business.

(5) Organisations will need help and solutions in a number of areas:
- Assessing their opportunities and risks
- Developing the strategy – clarifying their needs and culture
- Deploying and integrating the tools into existing systems and processes
- Creating quality AV material – it’s all in the editing (especially for video podcasts)
- Training many more staff on how to communicate well:
- How to create good content - remarkable stories, passionate views etc.
- Are there any rules or taboo subjects
- How to remain open and honest yet not put your foot in it.

(6) There’s virtually no risk in giving it our best shot and we will all learn fast by diving in head first! Hopefully we might get recognised as being at the cutting edge of this revolution.

1 comment:

Dennis Howlett said...

Hi Keith - I picked you up via Shel Israel. Questions for you:

Why is there a need?
What have you identified as requiring change?
Who is ready for any of this?
Why should they believe you?
Why does it have to be external marketing?
What are the risks?
Who is going to manage the change and do they have the qualities necessary to steer this kind of thing through?
Show me the money!!!!

The reason I pose these questions is because new media, social computing and the rest may have a large POTENTIAL market but we're talking about businesses here. Hard assed businesses to boot.

I know this is an issue as I work around the enterprise and it is a devil of a job getting them to accept blog platforms. Few people have adequately articulated the benefits which are not direct but indirect. There is no cheap trick replacement here. There is, instead, a huge amount of process change.

I'm travelling to San Francisco to attend a conference on issues around this in October. Check out - should give you a flavour of the issues at stake. It's a seriously high quality event.

Disclosure: I'm part of the volunteer organising group and I'm doing this on a totally unfunded basis. I believe it is that important. A few other Brits and EU types are coming along.