A company's primary concern is profit. A consumer's primary concern is a quality product that meets her needs. Who, then, do you think would have the best ideas for product development - Company or Consumers?

Citizen Agency is an Internet consultancy that specializes in developing community-centric strategies around product research, design, development and marketing. Basically this is marketing created by the community of users who benefit from the product/idea. This stunning idea for an agency was formed by Chris Messina (the guy who started BarCamp) and super-cool business/marketing visionary Tara Hunt.

We see this approach to marketing in action in the 27dinners, Mozilla, and in products such as Stormhoek whose marketing is driven by evangelists ("hoekers"). It is ALL about nurturing communities.

Here's a manifesto from Pinko Marketing which sums this up beautifully:


  1. A good marketer is a Community AdvocateThis means that you speak for your community to your company, not vice versa. Sounds scary, doesn't it? Well, it is. Marketing isn't the same as sales. It is the job of business development, sales, the C-suite, etc. to keep marketing on a path so that they can make money. Marketing drives forward with that purpose, but, in the end, has to advocate for the community in order to keep peace, balance and the rest of the stuff I mention below in check.Really. Trust me on this one. Someone has to. Think of it this way. It should never be an us vs. them scenario. "How do we get more people to buy our widget?" should be "Why aren't people buying our widget? Maybe we should find out." In the end, that will sell more widgets.

  2. A good marketer knows today's brands aren't built in boardrooms or ad agencies or brainstorming sessionsThis should be a no-brainer. It doesn't matter how much you tweak and perfect and hone and glamorize your 'brand', the community will see it the way they see it. Make it too slick and they may see you as a poser. Tie it to a revolution and they may react strongly with the call against co-optation (see AT&T). Of course, you can send a message that communicates what your vision is, what you are offering and how you would like to be perceived. It doesn't mean it will be interpreted that way.If you try to build a 'brand' and people interpret it differently, maybe you should examine your message.

  3. A good marketer plans a little, but changes alotVery much related to the previous point, 'da plan' (strategic plan, media plan, marketing plan, etc.) should always be nimble. For me, it's all about seeding. You can seed through more conventional or traditional means or you can seed through more guerilla and viral means. If something isn't working, stop, examine it, adjust it, scrap it or put more energy into it, but don't just 'stick to the plan'. If you get a tip about an event or a meeting or a new medium, give it a shot. It may just be the key to spreading the word. Spread your energy outwards.I, personally, believe in seeding far and wide and letting things happen. If they don't I keep my eyes open for other opportunities. This used to drive clients wild, now it drives my boss wild. My strategic plans are all over the place and get more and more sparse as the years go on. Why? Because the best opportunities are rarely planned in advance. Or at least that has been my experience.

  4. A good marketer doesn't only respond to community needs today, but also knows what needs will arise tomorrowSounds a bit like a marketer needs to be an oracle, eh? Well, you do. Just because there is a 'low adoption rate' on some medium, doesn't mean you should write it off. In fact, the best way to become an oracle is to get involved with niche communities. There are two good reasons for this: a. the 'big guys' don't do it so you have less competition (Blue Ocean Strategy), and b. these niche communities are where revolutions begin. If you are part of those revolutions, you know what is coming down the pipe.Sure, the payoff sometimes takes time, but there is much more longevity and credibility in this.

  5. A good marketer rewards the community members who stand behind him/herNobody is insignificant. I don't care if you are a big sneezer or a smaller sneezer. Michael Arrington rocks, but so does Tejas Patel or Jeremy Botter. None are affiliated to Riya directly, but all of them have supported us (and criticized us, which is just as important) from day one.How do you reward your evangelists? Make certain they have the tools they need to keep on. Remind them how important they are to you regularly. Listen to their feedback, incorporate it, and even, if you can, bring them in to help you develop future versions of your product or service. These are community members who take time out of their busy schedules to spread the word for you...for free. That is totally kick ass. Never take it for granted.

  6. A good marketer gets involved in the communityI'm not just talking throwing a few dollars of sponsorship in their general direction in exchange for a banner. I'm talking about getting your hands dirty. Getting involved. Taking up the cause for yourself. Starting initiatives. Supporting initiatives. Getting to know everyone.PLEASE don't think about it in terms of what you can get out of it. Think of it in terms of what you can give. I know that is a difficult concept for some. It's not a cash dump or a drain on the resources. There is lots you can get out of getting involved, but if you frame it that way, you aren't any better than AT&T.

  7. A good marketer is her/his own clientThink about it. If you wouldn't buy your crap, why would anyone else?

  8. A good marketer knows when to back offStep off. Totally. I talked about this in my Evangelism 101 post. Seed. Water. Don't drown. Walk away. Let the sun shine. Let nature take its course. Like I said above, if seeding isn't working, sometimes it's best to move on. Plant elsewhere (I really should find a new metaphor).

  9. A good marketer learns to use the tools available to themAnd I'm not talking about the standard tools. Discover new ones. Learn how they work. Blogging, Flickr, Del.icio.us, Dodgeball, LinkedIn, Podcasts, RSS, Online Forums, Plazes and Flock are just a few of mine... if you are marketing locks to hardware stores, the tools will most likely be entirely different. :) Oh...and don't forget to advocate the use of those tools. I'm an evangelist for every one of my beloved social software companies.

  10. A good marketer never takes her/himself to seriouslyHave fun with it. It's only bidness. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at your company. Admit your mistakes. Be painfully self-aware. Let go of your ego. Laugh in general. Don't try to be funny. Find humour. Let it go. It's okay.That's sort of the list of 10, but there is a great deal more...and this list is pretty broad. I'll cover more case studies and questions in the future...

  11. A good marketer knows you don't need a sledgehammer to crack a nutshellSometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference. Add a live-chat feature to your website, have a suggestions box next to the counter...doing the littlest things that make the customer realise you care and value their opinion can have the greatest effects.



Posted
AuthorDave Duarte