Consumer Generated Media (CGM). Web 2.0. Engaging prospects and customers and how that happens is being debated and redefined. Newsweek has a great article out, The New Wisdom of the Web, and it's a great overview and look at what's going on out there.
I agree that trying to split Web 1.0 and create Web 2.0 is a misnomer, but I do think the evolution is something very powerful and that if you're a B2B company, you don't get out of it by saying, "Oh, that's for consumers. We don't have anything to do with things like Flickr, MySpace, YouTube and the others."
Really? Think again.
Your company may not be looking at straight applications like those, but there are a lot of interactive components that can lead to ideas and implementations of funcitonality that bring you closer to your customers and prospects and even generate mutual benefit. But, you have to be willing to adapt and you have to be willing to give up a modicum of control.
Shudders. I know. But think about it. You have conversations everyday with people, right? Take a look at your processes. Take inventory of what your customers go through to work with you and figure out how to streamline it. How to provide interaction in an on-demand way that empowers the people who want to interact with you.
In doing so, you'll find ways to empower your staff. That by involving others and using customer, prospect, partner and employee input, that you can reap other rewards. Lowering costs is one. But more importantly, selling more, faster is the one you're after. Creating a community of loyal and enrolled customers and near-customers will provide huge benefits. Not only in knowledge and conversation, but in innovation and keeping your company's products ahead of the curve.
Here's the thing. With the rage of getting involved, of taking on conversations, you no longer have to do all the heavy lifting yourself. You no longer have to fly blind and hope your best guess is good enough. I think the over-used phrase, "It takes a village" is one that applies here.
What you need to think about is HOW you'll do it. What MUTUAL VALUE it can provide. And what's keeping you FROM participating now?
Strategic thinking about what's possible, what can be done now, what to set yourself up for in the future are important considerations and shouldn't be overlooked. But if you aren't sticking your toe in and creating conversations, you're going to be left behind. Existing in a vacuum just won't keep you in the game.
What are you doing to create a "village?"