Friday, October 2, 2009

Community Centricity

You ever been planning and budgeting a new business year and let the words of Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins frame your current market scenario like this:

Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;

And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

I've never used those words in a business plan but maybe I should. Those words all trades, their gear and tackle and trim suggest We. Not Me. As in only a customer and me. Or only a supplier and me. Or just an employee and me.

Those words and these All things counter, original, spare, strange suggest community. As in customers and suppliers and partners and employees and, then (and only then) me.

Together. Fickle, freckled (who knows how?).

You hear a lot of chatter about customer centricity these days. I don't really get it yet. And maybe no one I ask does either, since everyone has their own definition of it.

Even Wikipedia is useless. It devotes just 29 words to the topic.

Some big deal This Next Big Thing in business is.

Sounds a lot like the last thing: It's me against you. And if you're my customer or supplier or partner or employee you have MY money in your pocket and I'm comin' to get it swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim.

Maybe we're at a moment ripe for community centricity. Where you succeed because the other guy really knows, believes and trusts "you've got my best interests in mind."

That's what my friend Pete the CMO said the other day when I asked him about the secret sauce of The CMO Club, a community of 800 CMOs he founded two years ago. (More about Pete next week...)

Community Centricity says my customers, employees, partners, suppliers, even competitors are part of the story, this Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;

Community Centricity says everyone has something to offer and it is good and it isn't to be feared. So go ahead and comment on our work together and share it and rate it with your Facebook friends.

Community Centricity says I'm not only going to sell you my product, but I'm going to work with you to attract another customer for you because you have it.

Community Centricity says I'm going to organize a Twitter following of customers so you can learn everything from everyone I do business with: Good, Bad, and Ugly.

Community Centricity says I'm obligated to be a thought leader and deliver you the best ideas the market has to offer, whether I thought of them or one of my competitors did.

Community Centricity says, like Pete the CMO said, I have your best interests in mind in All things counter, original, spare, strange.

Then, and maybe only then, you'll trust me enough to buy something I have to offer.

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