World of Customer Networks: 5 Strategies for Business Growth

With over a billion Internet users and two decades of World Wide Web, we can recognize clearly the five behaviors of networked customers. There are: connecting, accessing, customizing, collaborating, and engaging. Once businesses understand and make use of these behaviors, they can follow the five strategies that will help them create business models, products and services with great values and succeed in a networked future.

Here are the five strategies:

Strategy 1: Connect. – Consumers are share ideas and opinions all the time through social media where one can pick an insight or two for brand acuity. Popular forums like Facebook or Twitter can help businesses can join to reach their consumers. Businesses can create their own as well, where they will also be able to get consumers to exclusively join to share their ideas, vote and express their opinions. One example is the online community The Ford Fiesta Movement. Here, car enthusiasts and fans get to sign up to try out a new car, and at the same time it created huge brand awareness even before it was even launched.

Strategy 2: Access. – Offer mobile location and on demand experiences. Customers want to be connected all the time to access digital data, content or even just to interact. Customers not only want to access, they want it fast, easy and they want it now. When a business offers something with everything in it (fast and easy) they create authentic value for their customers. Nike+ is a good example for this. They linked a runner’s shoes with their computers. In this way they only not keep track of the data but also share it in web through the largest running community.

Strategy 3: Customize. – Networked customers are not into conformity or anything they can blend it. They want to stand out especially in the digital world. Equipping them with tools that can customize services, contents, and products that would suit them, businesses creates value for consumers and makes them incomparable with their competition. Two Charities have prospered by using this strategy and these are DonorsChoose and Kiva. Donors are able to select people and projects they want to fund in their own specification.

Strategy 4: Collaborating. – Creating a platform where networked customers can interact and join in to build the business. This would allow huge room for motivation, imagination and creativity to pour into the business from the consumers. iPhone and iPad wasn’t built by one creator, it was built by over 50,000 amateur and professional developers from round the world.

Strategy 5: Engage. – The web is flooding with so much data and information that consumers barely take in what they see. To stay on top of the game, create something that consumers will actually want to read and consume. Businesses should focus on how they can broaden their impact to consumers or when to narrow it down. A business can earn by creating informative content, answers query and even contents that can entertain. Like IBM’s Innov8, a videogame to help sell their software and became their best marketing tool.

These five strategies will be of use to any business, whether you sell bags, shoes, or software. One has to think innovatively and creatively to reach what we call the networked customers.

How Businesses Should Adapt to Change

Response to change is the key. The Darwinian concept,’ adapt or die’, applies to corporate as well as biological life. Business, of course, must respond to change if it is to survive. The response may be the development of new business or new business combinations, new organisation or new organisational structures, new products, new channels of distribution, mergers the acquisitions and the like. If the world of printing technology calls for a change in large format photo printing process for instance, then the management must conform or abide by these changes in order to remain competitive.

Once a corporation has responded to change it often finds its identity seriously altered. Deregulation in both banking and the airline industries for example have made many old geographical-oriented identities obsolete. Many companies have found it necessary to communicate a new identity to the public in order to free them from old restrictions.

The transmission of the identity message is also subject to external pressures, among them; competitive forces, distribution requirements, media requirements, economic pressures, corporate requirements, regulatory requirements and many others.

Often the result of such pressures is the homogenisation of products and services; they achieve parity with one another and all seem alike to the public. Another result may be confusion, or lack of clarity, in the image. Or perhaps the image is simply no longer accurate. When the projected identity change or goes our focus it results in an inaccurate or blurred image in the public mind. It is then necessary to correct the identity system so it will again have the proper influence in the image. Or, it may be a signal to re-examine the company’s marketing strategy to see if it is still the right one.

Research and analysis play a pivotal part in this reassessment. It not only helps evaluate the existing image, but also directs changes in strategy, guides the development of a new strategic identity programme, and monitors its effectiveness.

The result of this research, analysis, and refocusing is a corporate identity programme which truly reflects the current nature and direction of the company – a design system which fuses corporate identity and public perceptions – a new branded package copious enough to certain and position the entire corporation. It can then be used to communicate to all of the company’s public – both in the business community, and in the market-place.