On the Big In Japan weblog, Alexander Muse recently posted some thoughts on company-consumer relationships:
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 wasnâ€™t about â€˜us or themâ€™, 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 companyâ€™s higher calling is you can direct your communication with your clients through this new channel. By working with consumers to answer this â€˜higher callingâ€™ 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 â€˜companyâ€™ or â€˜consumerâ€™ 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)