Push Me, Pull Me: Steering a brand through a customer driven marketplace.

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The Clute Institute recently published an paper entitled, ‘From Push to Pull: Emerging Models of Mobilizing Resources’. It examines the shift from traditional “push” models to emerging “pull’ models in terms of how we organize and manage business, and how that shift will affect the way businesses interact with consumers and social activity in the future.

The implications for those in the marketing business are enormous. Whether you’re a traditional advertising agency or one of the many creative companies now generating advertising (including digital, talent, design, broadcast identity, experiential and production companies), it means we now face constant reconstitution to meet evolving customer needs. Solutions – the ideas, products or services we provide – will now emerge from changing constellations of creative partnerships. And instead of building infrastructure, we offer insta-structure – the ability to bring the right people together fast enough to meet that need as soon as it is required. The relevant distance to consider is no longer the one between you and your customer but the one between you and the partner you need next. Such nimbleness and flexibility requires a major restructuring of how we think about and organize our businesses, but it’s necessary if we hope to mirror the organic evolution of the internet-driven marketplace.

As for consumers, an abundance of information creates choice, choice provides control, and control means we no longer dictate consumer thinking or behavior. Instead we are in a constant creative dialogue, not just with our business partners, but with consumers and our role is to listen attentively. This dialogue will unlock all our futures. Uncertainty defines this process as it relies on the random collision of two previously unrelated ideas. In short, creativity.

We do have one tool at our disposal – the currency of fundamental human values. While the days when advertisers or brands dictated what consumers thought or did are over, values-based behavior is still persuasive because it is timeless, emotional and universal. That is why social marketing in growing and will continue to do so. At its worst, transparency lets consumers see the duplicitous and disingenuous behavior of brands and marketers. At its best, its shines a light on authentic core values, reliably expressed through consistent messaging and behavior. Goodwill is the enduring currency between corporations and customers. A brand’s value, appropriately, is increasingly defined by its values. Only then does the networked, virtual world work to our advantage.

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