The Shift from Smart Selling to Smart Buying

I was frustrated last week when listening to a so-called ‘marketing expert’ on newstalk radio. Speaking with George Hook he made what I felt was an outrageous claim that ‘social media just doesn’t work for small and medium business.’ Sure the hook got me, and I gave him my attention – there are aspects of SM that certainly challenge existing business practices, but the rather blatant ‘doesn’t work’ claim seemed shockingly naive. It works in many contexts as any thinking individual would realise but this chap actually dismisses it out of hand – and is getting paid good bucks for making the claim. Seriously. The unmitigated gall and smug delivery – feel my outrage.
His charge was that when looking at conversion into paid revenue, the amount of effort involved in conducting marketing campaigns using social media just didn’t translate into sales. And there it was – Joe consultant still subscribes to the spam school of marketing and yet seems to survive – peddling his simplistic old-school approach.
What I was reminded of from his discourse was that finding a simple way of explaining the increased complexity of business relationships – especially when magnified or made transparent through emerging social computing mechanisms – still eludes popular understanding. Then I was struck by two emerging players that have moved beyond traditional CRM into true community management: GetSatisfaction and HelpMint both of whom focus on consolidating internal and external communication streams to go beyond the vaunted 360 view of customer interaction. As the GetSatisfaction folks posit it is a move from traditional CRM that enabled people to ‘sell better’ to a new 1:1:1 (not quite sure on that metaphor yet) relationship that shifts things to allowing people to ‘buy better’. I think there is something here and I think it is what your man referenced earlier was clearly missing. It is about transparency and it is about a real shift to the customer and involving all stakeholders more fully in the process. It’s not there yet, but we are moving in this direction rapidly and these two organizations are existing players to keep an eye on.

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