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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Monday, May 12, 2003

Marketing Blogs to Corporates

I visited Delhi last week, after almost 2 months, where i met a few current clients at large multinational corporations - ranging from industries such as media & entertainment to consumer goods manufacturing.   The conversations we had almost always led me to tell them that i've started a weblog (that being my most enjoyable preoccupation since late March).  In all cases, the mention of the term 'blog' or 'weblog' evoked blank stares and at best polite curiousity.  I asked them for a little time and a long rope, and i took them on a virtual tour of different types of blogs.  Must say that did create more interest - and i have had queries on how blogs could help business organizations.   

Intuitively i do feel that it would be a tremendous advantage, a discriminator signalling an  organisation with the cutting edge. Its going to happen, sooner than later.  I'm wondering what 'hot buttons' we need to press - there are so many thoughts playing in my mind.  Thoughts on whether technology and software can be selling points, or should the focus be on value that can be created.  While i appreciate these must and do work in tandem, i'm thinking about it with my marketer's hat on - so the search for the most effective "sales pitch". 

Most thoughts lead me to Knowledge Management concepts, tools and systems.  I'm not really sure that KM is being adopted in a really useful or effective manner in many organisations here.  More importantly, while its great to have a system in place as a talking point, i'm not really sure what real value is being created and disseminated.  They tend to be led by the HR department and are usually one-way monologues that not many participate in - (but this is really a topic for another post).  

There is a constant generation of content in an organisation - via email, via IM, through documents, presentations, training workshops and seminars, and sometimes through discussion boards.  KM systems tend to be slow and heavy in capturing and disseminating this content - in the process, the value may be lost. 

Blogs - K-Logs, project blogs, customer targetted blogs, may be an effective way of simplifying this process, with :

  • shorter decision making cycles
  • higher levels of sharing across offices situated in different locations
  • greater responsiveness to and from employees, associates and customers
  • threaded commentary and documentation
  • better archiving 

Perhaps less tangible yet as critical are these benefits creating value to employee and employer :

  • building up of tacit knowledge channels and flows
  • a space to be 'heard' - a 'company that cares' whether its the customer, employee or business partner
  • an environment that fosters exchange and conversation - a space for creative friction
  • a greater sense of 'ownership' and trust    

While all this makes sense, i wonder whether its enough to get a large organization to bite?  How could a blogging system, in terms say a Vice President Marketing would best vibe with, help build marketshare, brand value and customer loyalty for a company, product/service or brand - boost the bottomline, in short ? Can we effectively bridge, what appears to be a chasm between blogs and business organisations ? Am i expecting too much ? Is it a bridge too far ?

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