Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Communications not Product and Services is the 21st Century Opportunity: Part 2

Part 2: 
The Organisational Impact of Communications in Today’s World?

A company may have the best product or service and the smartest technology, but these alone no longer guarantee success. They may have a significant marketing budget, but billboards, page adverts, glossy catalogues and call centres now longer guarantee sustainable success. The supply chain may be well oiled and automated, but reducing waste and delivering to just in time models are by themselves now longer offer unique value and guarantee success. The sales and marketing messages may be slick and focused, but the message in a social networked world is no longer the prize and getting it across to the market no longer a simple process.

Mass market advertising still has its place, but direct marketing now is challenging it even in the mass market. Being able to now effectively engage with consumers and feed their habits, respond to them and truly engage and retain them is the real goal. Creating brand loyalty and through that product and service loyalty and a customer for life is the Holy Grail. Once that was the sole domain of the retailer, or end service provider, but in a world of virtual marketplaces the channel to market is changing and with it the communications with the end consumer. Sharing consumers in non-sharing partnerships is the same as not sharing basic trading information before Supply Chain management. 

We now crave the viral hit. That moment when the word of the internet overtakes all the market budgets we could muster and value and perception truly transfer to the mass. When it works it can create instant recognition, market and demand but is just in time world not satisfying it on demand can be as damaging as not creating it in the first place. However, like winning the Lottery it can’t be achieved by all so bets have to be spread and ‘silver bullet’ strategies avoided.

Reputation can be built and destroyed in a click. Consumers, like sheep tend now to follow and identifying the leaders and influences is a challenge to all. It is truer than ever that one bad experience can influence ten others. In fact the numbers are probably significantly higher today and the impact far faster than yesterday’s word of mouth.

So what does this mean to the organisation and its focus?

We would suggest the following thoughts;

Effective trading partnerships across the supply and value chain is more important than ever. In an channel were much is outsourced the performance of others can now often impact a business more than it can imagine. How do you organise your partners and work together for mutual benefit? Who monitors partner relationships and their effectiveness? What information is shared and how does it help the consumer engagement?

What is communicated with who, when and how?

Service extends to more than throwing goods over the wall, or tracking parcels. Knowing what the other party wants to know and responding to them when they want something is as important as the product they bought. How many of us tear our hair out trying to get in touch with a Google, Amazon, eBay, Apple etc. It’s as if the tablets only ever go one way and those that effectively crack this challenge are the winners of tomorrow.

Information is as valuable as revenue. Collecting information for the sake of collecting information may appeal but using that information to engage with all is the goal. However, the challenge is learning to share information in a manner which respects the privacy of the individual but enables partners to help deliver and for businesses to engage with them. Remember when suppliers and retailers started to share forecast and demand information and the resultant benefits that gave to some supply chains?

Should we create a CCO (Chief Communication Officer) as it clearly not a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) or a CIO (Chief Information Officer). Perhaps the role fall within the emerging Digital Director remit. Marketing is an obvious home but is often only consumer focused and lacking technology depth. Is a COO (Chief Operating Officer) the appropriate function as is it about process, touch points, messages and responses?

Different organisations will respond differently, according to size, skills and complexity of the chain, but communications now needs to be at the forefront of today’s boardroom thinking and developing the appropriate strategy and measuring its performance and effectiveness is an opportunity for all who sit around the board table to engage with.

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