Part of what I love about the opportunity of Web 2.0 is that it’s forcing me and my team to think about marketing in non-traditional ways. We’re literally breaking down the paradigm of pushing content in favor of Web 2.0-enabled interactive tools built to facilitate mutual conversation. At the risk of sounding too dramatic, that’s a significant change in how big marketing organizations do business. It affects everything from the topline of campaigns and events down to the skill sets you look for in new hires. For all its upside, change is still a disruptive, violent process that is embraced much more easily by some than others. I’m assuming that anybody reading this post has searched for this content and by definition is comfortable with taking the red pill without the comfort of knowing how far down this rabbit hole actually goes.
But that’s not going to be true of everybody. At the end of the day, this shift might still be a zero sum game. For every person who takes full advantage of this new technology and creates value for their company and their customers there are going to be people who have a vested interest in maintaining status quo. On the one hand, these are the people who maintained that automobiles were devil’s work and stocked up on buggy whip stock. On the other hand, they’re probably the same people that argued against investing in a B2C company whose stock was trading at 200 times earnings in early 2000. As with everything, wisdom probably lies somewhere in the middle.
And that may be, but I’ve already taken the red pill, fallen down the rabbit hole and am now running taxi service with a Widget Wagon. To paraphrase The Godfather of Soul, “(Mama’s) got a brand new bag”.
As such, part of my focus is on taking the rest of the marketing world with me. No easy task to be sure, but thankfully there is a gentleman named Geoffrey Moore (maybe you’ve heard of him?) who gave us a framework for understanding the challenge that lies ahead.
In Geoffrey A. Moore's book, Crossing the Chasm, he identified five categories of customers based on where they are during a product lifecycle. I think these same categories can be applied to identify the cycle of Marketing Professionals’ adoption of Marketing 2.0. These groups can be defined as follows:
Innovators - The Steve Jobs
Remember when you read your first blog? The person who wrote it might have been an innovator. How did all that stuff get onto Wiki? Who were the first 20 people to get onto LinkedIn? For these folks, the Widgets I’m using are soooo '2006'. They aren't talking to their customers; they’ve already been blogging with them for two plus years and are now collaborating on customizable micro-apps to facilitate real time conversation about supporting the new virtual sales office in
Early Adopters - The Opportunists
This is where I sit. Blog? Check. Wiki entry? Check. iPhone on order? Check. Figuring out how to capitalize on the brilliant work of the people behind the nuts and bolts is classic
Early Majority - The Pragmatists
If Opportunists are about taking someone’s lemons and making lemonade, these people are about copying your lemonade stand and franchising it. To win these people over, I’m going to work on eliminating risk by building out systems that use consistent results. By the time that happens, we’ll be way past the point of coolness and heading into the realm of cold hard commercial profitability.
Late Majority - Walmart
By the time these people start getting into Marketing 2.0 the innovators will be on to something new. These people wait until it's a time tested and proven standard before they start jumping into the mix. One day you’re going to be able to buy a box of widgets at Walmart. Using the web as an accelerator, widgets might get main-streamed faster than firefox.
Laggards - The CEO of the Last Buggy Whip Company
These people don't know the difference between RSS and RFP and Wiki and Bliki. They still believe in print advertising and direct mail and that's where all their marketing budget goes. They spend their time trying to 'convince' people to buy their product rather than trying to talk to them about it. The day will come when they realize that the job they thought they had looks so different now that they no longer know what they are doing. Unfortunately, this is where new, cool, and not yet proven meets old, boring, and exceedingly profitable. The reason people hold on to stuff that works is because, well, it works. The problem with that is that nothing works forever. Some of these people will get it and move, but the others are going to miss the boat entirely.