What does the social business mean to you

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The Age Of The Social Business Is Here; What Does That Mean To You?

Marketing has moved on; the social business is here, and the rules for creating mutual customer value are changing.  But, what are those new rules, and who can provide you with reliable guidance?   Universities still teach the outdated 4P’s, consultants set up gladiatorial fights between the next great idea and the last;   agencies are still too functionally divided.  The truth is, the new rules of marketing are unknown; they’re evolving; so a constant cycle of action research, followed by refinement of good practice into ‘knowledge models ‘is the only path to enlightened marketing thinking.   This is what we do; then, we pass it to you.

The Business of Business is Getting More Social

Marketing, the skill of attuning a business to customer needs beneficially, has always adapted to its social context.  Marketing as a twentieth century management discipline grew out of nineteenth century economic theory on growth and society.  That is not to say marketing did not happen before, but it was different, more local, more personal.  As human societies evolve, good marketing has aligned itself to circumstances: down the years it has, at different times,

  • - encouraged ‘mutual’ businesses like Cadbury’s to provide better conditions for their nineteenth century employees,
    - created the techniques to develop twentieth century mass markets that aided the growth of whole countries
    - ensured the world did not slip back into the Great Depression post World War II.

Now, society is changing again, and marketing must adapt to a different environment: one that is suffused with reciprocal relationship networks, appreciates the bonds of ‘tribal’ experiences, sees value in service, and assets in engaged customers.   Even CEO’s are realizing that shareholder value is an output of customer capitalism [i], not a stand-alone objective, and are thus demanding more customer engagement metrics to steer ‘the ship’.

In essence, we are scaling up the values of the old ‘corner’ shop, through innovative new business practices.  The local shopkeeper knew his importance to community life; he got to know his customers and offered relevant services.  When he got a new pickle in, he would let his pickle purchasers know, and maybe the cheese lovers too; he would, perhaps, offer a trial to customers with reputations for hospitality, in order to gain endorsements and advocacy.  Through his good marketing, the quality of community life was enhanced:  in its turn, mass marketing did the same for whole societies, reducing drudgery and encouraging aspirations– but is this still true today?

If we examined Neil Borden’s 1953 marketing mix [ii],  designed for building mass markets for manufacturers, and from which the 4P’s were distilled by McCarthy [iii]we would spot similarities but also big differences with the techniques needed to build today’s networked markets. Branding would be more about tribal/cultural stories than logos, servicing would be at the front of the customer journey and used for permission to further the relationship, co-creative experiential techniques would replace sales promotions.  However, for marketing to change, organizations need more accommodating capabilities – integrated technology, decision making insight, an engaging staff culture, and ‘new’marketing thinking.

Inspiring / Market / Thinking

Just teaching new stand-alone marketing techniques can end up in confusion, and yet another bolt on marketing function; the ‘social media’ department, for example.  You may have just learnt’ about content curation, but that does not mean the rest of the organization has moved on, and the chances are your eager ambitions will just cause frustration!

What is needed is to instil new marketing thinking, a new ethos, across the whole organization from finance to the call centre.  Private, public and third sector, organizations, it does not matter, all serve customers and all can benefit from ‘market thinking’ alignment.  With this begun, the next step is to evolve through connect and develop (C&D rather than R&D) the new business practices and marketing strategies that capture market opportunity, engage customers and create more mutual customer value – not to mention shareholder/stakeholder value!!

Mutual Marketing can help at a variety of stages of this process; we create the knowledge you can learn from.  We bring to bear both our ongoing action research into good marketing practices and our experience in knowledge transfer that ranges from universities to private sector academy training.  Further, we know that the best way to build new capabilities, and enhance business performance, is by working on new ideas for your own organizational issues, rather than theory and case study.   Thus, our services include:

Academy training courses »

These help defuse new marketing thinking and are run internally to your organization; designed around your own particular market dynamics, value proposition and issues.  They can be planned for staff with different levels of marketing skill eg a basic course in customer insight for everyone to understand its use, and a specialist version for the customer insight team to develop analyst skills.

Workshop facilitation »

Helps to connect and develop.  You have been asked to create a plan for better staff engagement to serve customers,  or, maybe to align the customer experience with brand values.  We can run an educative workshop that explores the concept you are looking at and generates ideas and new marketing thinking to achieve your objectives.

Executive master classes, coaching and mentoring »

Management buy-in is a key constraint to new ideas particularly of the magnitude of social business.  Refreshingly, and after many years of CRM refusing to die,  there are signs that many executives now understand the greater need for creating customer value, as a route to shareholder value.   As experienced tutors and MBA lecturers we can ‘tutor’ executives wanting to understand the new marketing rules on the job using their own goals and organization’s issues.

Using customer insight »

Much insight is collected, but little is distilled down to staff;  less still is used to good purpose.   As action researchers ourselves, we are skilled at helping you extracting customer insight from all your data and information using, primarily, triangulated secondary research techniques, and,  just as importantly, we can help you get it to the people who matter.

For more ideas on how we can help your customer engagement click here.

Why Us?  A New Approach

We are not consultants, we are marketing business analysts – research and knowledge transfer is our business.  Neither are we academics debating interpretivist/positivist theory – we are practitioners with a desire to get things done.  We combine the best of both worlds, academic knowledge rigour, and practitioners pragmatism and innovation, all to help you build your marketing capabilities, your business performance, and your personal skills.

At the heart of our proposition, we create the knowledge that you can learn from  We work on real business problems together with clients; integrating their business understanding with our subject matter expertise and experience to create the new successful, social, business.


[i] Martin Roger,  (2009)  The Age of Customer Capitalism, Harvard Business Review

[ii] Borden Neil, (1964) The Concept of the Marketing Mix, Journal of Advertising Research

[iii] McCarthy E J  (1964), Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach, Homewood