Which companies share a common goal with their customers?

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On the Big In Japan weblog, Alexander Muse recently posted some thoughts on company-consumer relationships:

higher calling, image courtesy of Big In Japan, www.biggu.com

The oldest form of company-to-consumer communication took the form of a company telling a consumer something through advertising. More recently companies created channels for their consumers to talk back. This two way communication results in conversations that at times can be somewhat adversarial ~ i.e. us vs. them. Imagine a communication channel that wasn’t about ‘us or them’, instead what if you could both talk about something else, something you both inherently cared about ~ i.e. a higher calling? If you can determine what your company’s higher calling is you can direct your communication with your clients through this new channel. By working with consumers to answer this ‘higher calling’ the communication is no longer adversarial, but cooperative. Building a community around a higher calling can be very effective and fruitful for both the consumer and the company. You are no longer ‘company’ or ‘consumer’ but partners working toward a positive goal you both care about.

I wouldn’t agree to the part about the oldest form of company-to-consumer communication being the advertising model – that’s a rather new invention, starting more or less in the age of mass media. Apart from that, Alex has a great point there: If company and customers have common goals they help each other to achieve, their mutual relationship should benefit – it’s a classic win-win.

But how can you get to that point? I’m curious about any hints as to which companies you know that actually have such a thing such as a higher calling, let alone one they share with their customers? If you know a great example, please let me know. (peter (at) thewavingcat.com)

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