Outreach and Influencer Relations

In the prior sections, I presented the new role of the customer and the impact on business disciplines like CRM and the identification of influencers. I’ve shown how Social CRM fits into an organization’s intelligence and relationship man[1]agement program and how it ties the response-driven foundation of traditional CRM to the Social Web’s customer-driven engagement process.

Social CRM ties Vendor Relationship Management Given the rise of the Social Web, the new role of the customer and the concepts of Social CRM have a counterpart in business supply-chain processes: Vendor Relationship Management (VRM). Beyond employee-customer interactions and Operations-led production and delivery processes, what are the additional points of impact in creating the customer experience? What about businesses with a more complex supply chain or whose control over the delivery experience depends on other firms and organizations’ direct or indirect contributions? Think about vacation and destination travel services, where a holiday package offered through American Express may involve multiple customer-facing partners. How do the concepts of Social CRM transform? The Cluetrain Manifesto holds that the best marketing is conversational, built around the interaction between the business and its customer, and between customers themselves. This philosophy underlies Social CRM in that it ties the conversation—not just the transaction—into the busi[1]ness processes. Vendor Relationship Management is about the application of the social tools that create and support collaborative conversations throughout the supply chain and delivery channels.

To the extent that the Social Web is the evidence of pushback by consumers against tradi[1]tional marketing in favor of a more collaborative experience with brands, products, and services, VRM Is about extending the sought-after collaborative experiences to the entire supply chain. Jon Lebkowsky, a cofounder of Austin, TX-based Social Web Strategies, along with Doc Searls, a leading proponent of VRM, and others are advancing this issue. You’ll find more about Jon Lebkowsky, Doc Searls, and VRM here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vendor_Relationship_Management http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/research/projectvrm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Lebkowsky http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doc_Searls 46c h a p t e r 2:

The New Role of the Customer your business into the influence path that is guiding the development of your markets by connecting you with the conversation makers. In this next section, the focus is on very specific conversation makers: the blog[1]gers who cover your particular market or “speak” to your customers and stakeholders along with the more general group of influencers who play a nontrivial role in the way in which your product or service finds its way into your customers’ shopping carts. Social CRM and Blogger Outreach In referencing bloggers and blogger outreach, I’m not talking exclusively about A-list bloggers.

These individuals are certain factors and have most definitely earned their reputations by consistently delivering value to their subscribers. However, the idea that “reaching them” and asking them to do your bidding is somehow a sufficient social marketing effort is misplaced at best, and it will land you in trouble at worst. Like celebrities, A-list bloggers are few in number and easy to spot. There are lists of them, making them easy to connect with.

As a part of your blogger outreach program, you’ll want to connect with the A-listers that matter to you, but a word of caution: Holding to their professional standards—their brands depend on it, after all—the A-listers will write as they please. Develop a relationship with them when your product or service is up to snuff. Before that, or when first establish[1]ing your relationship with them, look for ways to help them out but don’t do it out of expectation for a favor. As the saying goes, please pay it forward and focus on delivering a great product or service. The rest will follow. A-list bloggers write to satisfy a passion and not (primarily) for a paycheck, though many do earn a living or contribute significantly toward one through their writing.

Their passion is their chosen topic and the process of sharing the information related to it with others. You want these people in your camp, no doubt about it. But there are others that you need as well. Far more important at the outset is identifying, reaching, and building solid relations [1]ships with the B, C, and as comedienne Kathy Griffin puts it, the D list. You are looking [1]ing for the people who have a reach of 10, 100, or 1,000, maybe even 10,000 who write for your market. These bloggers are looking for the information that you have. They would love to write about you—again assuming that what you offer is worth writing about—if only they knew about you. This is where tools such as BuzzStream, Sysomos, Scout Labs, and Alterian’s SM2 platform shine.

They’ll help you find the sources of conversations that relate to your business. Then through their decoding of the social graph, they will connect enough information (in most cases—no system is ever perfect) that you can initiate a relationship and then develop it through a managed Social CRM and influencer program.

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