Larry Kramer of CBS MarketWatch (source of image)
In the hypercompetitive world of producing and peddling information, one finds that media companies are often compelled to innovate lest they perish. The advent of multiple social media and networking channels, mobile connectivity, and citizen journalism have accelerated the need for the media constantly keep abreast of the latest developments in their reader’s, viewer’s and listener’s taste and preference.
Against such a scenario, what can businesses learn?
Larry Kramer, founder and former chairman and CEO of MarketWatch (on CBS), has a few words of wisdom in a recent HBR Ideacast episode “Why Businesses Need to Think Like the Media”. Author of the book C-Scape: Conquer the Forces Changing Business Today, Kramer proposes that there are 4 critical “Cs” that companies should consider in their business strategy while learning from the media.
They are: Consumers, Content, Curation and Convergence.
The consumer vote is growing from strength to strength, empowered by the advent of multiple social networking and mobile communication tools. Gone are the days where customers suffer in silence, bullied by big brands with market controlling powers. In an environment where greater power goes to the people, companies need to discern what their consumers are telling them, and to develop strategies that best meet those needs.
Like the media, you should consider what your need, want or desire your business is serving as opposed to what it is currently doing. For example, media firms are in the business of providing current and updated news as opposed to merely selling newspapers. With that knowledge, you should then serve it up to them in the best way possible, however they wish to consume.
By now, everybody would know that selling on price, features and benefits alone are not enough. Marketing a product is sometimes as much about its back story as it is about both the sizzle and the steak. Having good content – product website, company values, brand heritage, launch events, after sales service – counts for a lot more than just nice packaging and fancy technology.
A company should try to enrich its own story banks not just through its product packaging along but through the wealth of web channels available. Podcasts, blogs, Youtube videos, Facebook posts, Tweets, Slideshare presentations and the like help to augment a company’s “aura” and deepen the purchase and consumption experience.
This seems to be a trending topic amongst various business thinkers. In the business of communication, curation entails discerning what consumers are likely to like or be interested in, and to provide it to them in their preferred mode of consumption. One shouldn’t just give everything to everybody in all channels of communication, but to be clear what one’s purpose is in providing a specific information.
Curating also entails being useful to one’s customers. Spinning out lots of fluff about one’s company or brands alone isn’t going to cut in. Instead, seek to understand one’s consumers (back to the first “C”) and consider what would be useful for them to know. If you’re in the business of renting movies, for instance, think about incorporating movie reviews not just from the mainstream media but from bloggers and consumers themselves.
While this trend has been spoken to death in the fields of technology and digital media, it is also about how the different elements of one’s business comes together and interplays. Product design, for instance, is no longer the duty of the R&D engineers alone, but should involve marketing, sales, logistics, operations and other arms of the business. Naturally, convergence also means that one should employ multi-moded means of reaching out to one’s stakeholders.
Its Not Just a Technology Play
In the final part of the podcast, Kramer clarified that it isn’t just about having the most number of fans or followers on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or being the most popular blog in the social sphere. Technologies should be seen as the means to an end, and not the end in themselves. Instead, companies should look at communication as their all important holy grail.
Communication is a two way game. It is about interacting and getting one’s message across. It is also about listening and responding to one’s audiences and consumers in the manner which they are most comfortable with. This means that having a forum, blog, Tweet account, or Facebook page doesn’t mean eliminating your hotline, customer service counters or email address if your customers prefer a more traditional means of reaching you. Rather, seek to be accessible to your consumers on their own turf.