Jason Falls’s concern illuminates the problem with our short-term business ethos. Companies are under pressure to boost their stock prices and sales figures each quarter. Individuals are driven by the same short-term intention. The relationships that result are all started for the purpose of short-term gain, with the single transaction the only justification for participation.
Little wonder people are turned off. They’re not dumb. But then Jason asks:
If we act, though, not as marketers, but as members of the community, network or environment in which we’re participating with the audience, do we chip away at that mistrust?
The answer is yes. In fact, companies can and should not just be participants, but facilitators in a community. To name just three, Intel, Adobe and National Semiconductor are known for hosting vibrant online support communities. By enabling continual discussions not just between them and users, but also user-to-user, they’re building their customers’ trust.
To move from activity-based to community-based marketing is to gain customers’ trust. Instead of trying to control the conversation, and push your idea out, you let the users control the conversation, learn from each other, and in many cases, take themselves through the sales process. A frightening thought to control freaks, but the companies that practice community-based marketing are earning trust, building long-term relationships, and yes, making sales.