Modern marketing means customer collaboration

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CollaborationThe use of social media is still on the rise. The introduction of smartphones, tablets and mobile internet have given fresh momentum to the use of social media. This is just one of the conclusions from a worldwide study on the use of social media by e-research agency InSites Consulting. The study also reveals that consumers not only talk to each other; they also like to connect with brands. One in two follow at least one brand.

People are very clear in their expectations of brands: they want to receive product information. Discounts and free stuff are also very popular, but consumers want more. They want to help companies improve their existing products and services. In other words, consumers are reaching out to companies and saying “I want to helpâ€.

I think companies have yet to learn how to capitalise on this opportunity. Most of them still focus on recruiting the maximum number of fans for their brand and then they create fun and relevant content to share with their fans. That is important – of course it is – but there’s more. Today’s consumers want to contribute to the company’s future. Consumers are very much open to the principle of customer co-creation. InSites’ study also demonstrates that the majority are willing to do this for free. All they expect is feedback on the free input they provide. 80% of consumers would be happy to help companies, but only 16% of these companies have experience with customer co-creation. Talk about a wasted opportunity…

Customer collaboration will be at the heart of the marketing philosophy of the future. Successful companies will establish communities of people who create added value for them. You could almost call these consumers non-salaried staff. Wouldn’t that be an entrepreneur’s ultimate dream? Being able to call upon a small army of “staff†who create added value without getting paid at the end of the month?

Consumers will become the top consultants for the corporate world. After all, consumers don’t have a hidden agenda and they don’t have sales targets to reach. All they want is a good product and adequate service. In the company of the future, consumers have a seat in the boardroom.

When you think about it, the composition of a works council is rather strange. Both the staff and the shareholders are represented. The only party that’s not represented is the only one that makes money for the company: the customer. I think it’s clear that one seat in the boardroom will have to be reserved for the customer if a company is to get ahead.