In Larry Weber's new book, "Marketing to the social web: How digital customer communities build your business," the preface describes that, "Marketing at its best is the influencing of opinion through compelling content." This statement struck me as interesting because to me it’s a statement that implies the compelling content might come from the marketer. To me the most compelling content comes from the customer.
A few years ago, everyone in marketing and PR blogging circles talked about developing thought leadership by writing a blog. People still use the phrase "thought leadership," but most people use different terms now, as developing thought leadership implies I am saying something and everyone is listening. Companies that started with corporate blogging and had a goal of thought leadership are beginning to understand what matters more are their customer’s ideas.
When I conducted the corporate blogging survey 2005, a lot of people talked about why they wrote a blog, but what fascinated me was the realization that for companies the real success in corporate blogging comes from when you listen to your customer's ideas; their thought leadership if you will. If good, those customer ideas will be more likely to influence opinion. I see the goal of marketing with blogging to be one of encouraging customer comment and innovation. Yet at the same time how a company facilitates the implementation of customer ideas will affect how customers perceive that company. Companies if they aim for partnership with customers will be transparent in what they cannot do and cannot do, surprisingly even if a company responds negatively to a suggestion, so long as expectations are set, as my 2005 case study on Macromedia and Dell’s story both illustrate, a company still has the opportunity to turn ordinary customers into evangelists.