What’s the Future of Business?

Brian Solis is an author, analyst, and a principal at Altimeter Group, a firm focused on disruptive technology. He’s one of the world’s premier thought leaders in new media. His blog is one of the world’s top resources for business strategy and marketing.

What I most enjoy about Brian is that he has the ability to take complex subjects and break them down so you can understand them. His latest book, What’s the Future of Business? accomplishes that in a very different way than his previous work.9781118456538

Brian, before I jump into the latest book and the future, I want to slow down and talk about the past and the present. Because of the nature of your work, I imagine that you’re surrounded by social media experts most of the time. But there are still companies that are just now jumping in or maybe are still on the sidelines. With that in mind, what are the three biggest reasons a business should be utilizing social media today?

First, let me just say that I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you. While social media is part of what I do, it is true that I do have a unique opportunity to see how businesses are or aren’t using social media to reach connected consumers. We live in a social economy where social is an extension of customer engagement. Social media become the channels and mechanisms to listen, learn, engage, and adapt.

If you are not competing for the future, you are competing for irrelevance. -Brian Solis

The first reason that social media is important to businesses is that it amplifies the voice of the customers, their expectations and questions, their touch points, and most importantly the experiences they have and share. There’s much to learn by listening and observing. It is a form of digital anthropology where you gain not only insights but empathy. Try to not let it intimidate you . . . if you’re human, you can feel what’s taking place and as social is a very human series of networks, you can understand how to glean and deliver value as a result.

The second reason is that having a notable presence in networks of interest allows a brand to earn relevance where the attention of Generation C (connected) is focused. This isn’t a channel for the same one-sided marketing as executed in other channels. Social media is just that, it’s social. It’s not all about marketing. It’s about engagement in the context of how people hope to interact with the company.

The Four Moments of Truth in WTF The Four Moments of Truth in WTF

Last, but not least, is alignment. See, to build customer relationships requires that we see the customers for who they are and what they need to build relationships with the businesses they support. To do so requires a “social” philosophy where social media becomes an extension of a more engaging corporate mindset. Since social is bigger than marketing, key stakeholders from other functions and lines of business, or in the case of small businesses, other people responsible for the customer experience, need to come together to talk about the customer journey and the desired experience they wish to deliver. Today, businesses are aligned around the traditional funnel, but each department is responsible for its own portion. Whereas in connected consumerism, the journey is much more dynamic and experiential. And, since people have access to publishing these experiences in places of influence, these experiences contribute to a new reality. By rallying stakeholders together to deliver a consistent, meaningful and shareable experience, people come together around something that’s bigger than the team they represent. Alignment is powerful and required for the future of transformation and evolution.

Where are companies still getting social media wrong?

Reinvent Your Personal Brand

Have you been passed over for a promotion?  Again?

When others describe you do they use words like “visionary” or “dinosaur”?

Are you looking for a job?

How would you describe your own personal brand?

Have you missed an opportunity because someone thought of you incorrectly?

Take Charge of Your Personal Brand

Karen Kang is one of the world’s authorities on creating a personal brand.  As a brand strategist, Karen guides individuals through a process to strategically create a personal brand.  Karen knows what it takes to build a brand.  She is a former partner with world-renowned Regis McKenna, Inc., the marketing firm that created and launched the Apple brand.  She’s the founder and CEO of BrandingPays, and she has consulted with over 150 organizations around the world.

Her new book BrandingPays is a step-by-step guide to reinventing your personal brand.  I recently had the opportunity to ask Karen a few questions about her work and her book.

Karen, you’ve worked with startups all the way to some of the world’s biggest companies.  Although you continue to do corporate branding, your new work is mainly focused on individuals.  Why is personal branding so important today?  Has personal branding increased in importance?

Personal branding has gone from being a “nice to have” to a “got to do.”  Competitive forces in business and communication—from globalization to social media—have combined to make personal branding a requirement.  Gone are the days when you got on a career track with one company and rode it until the end of the line.  Whether you work for a company or not, you are a free agent.  You need to think like a “company of one” in how you position and market yourself.

Karen Kang

A One-Word Question to Improve Results

Photo by Ksayer1 on flickr.

One of the questions I always ask a customer is why.

Why did you choose us?  I love to call new customers and ask.  I’ve done this hundreds of times throughout my career.  In all of those conversations, I’ve never had a new customer not want to tell me the “why.”  And I learn valuable information with each phone call or visit.

It’s such an easy thing to ask.  I’m not sure why everyone doesn’t make it a habit.  Like most things, it may be easy to do but it’s also easy not to do.  I know when I fall out of the habit, I lose a valuable opportunity.

Almost always mentioned is the professionalism of the company’s representative.  It may also be the service, the product, or the price.  It could also be driven by a negative experience with the competition.

It’s important to listen and understand why customers are buying from you.  It can inform your corporate strategy.  You may spot a trend.  You may learn that you have strengths you didn’t even realize.  You may even develop new services because of the feedback.

Almost invariably on these calls I find other benefits:

  • Developing new relationships
  • Hearing about issues I wouldn’t have known about
  • Learning about employees who have gone above and beyond

If you’re running a business or in a leadership position, take the time out to make a few calls.  Ask the question.  Then, just listen and take notes.  I’m willing to bet you will learn more than you thought possible.