Monday, November 12, 2012

Do people with limited time want to keep up with new interests all in one place?

In an information rich, time deficient world there is some merit in being able to go to just one place to keep informed of the latest developments on topics of interest. The question for b-2-b marketers is to discover  where this might be for their customers and prospects.

It was during a conversation with the publisher of a special interest web site that the idea of busy people checking into one place regularly to keep abreast of the latest news, developments and chatter of interest and relevance to them, came up. This notion that there are people who actively monitor activity and developments as opposed to passively consuming received communications runs contrary to the traditional marketing approach. In the conventional marketing communication plan messages are sent to the target audiences - advertisements in trade journals, postal campaigns to individuals, emails to inboxes - all as outbound marketing campaigns. In-bound marketing shifts the initiative from marketer to customer or prospect, but still places a requirement on the marketer to make the information available in the format required by the consumer of information.

Ten years ago or more, RSS seemed to offer just such a solution. In the early days of RSS feeds the user downloaded reader software then selected which RSS feeds they wanted to monitor. For example  feeds from major news organisations such as the BBC or CNN could be combined with feeds from information relevant to work such as new products, new technologies, exhibitions and conferences and finally perhaps news from a favourite sports team or hobby. Quite quickly, say each morning, the headlines from all the news feeds of interest could quickly be scanned and those of more interest than others clicked on to read the story in more depth. But RSS got built into browsers so readers became redundant and the notion of a personalised headline service never really caught on. Twitter has kind of captured this solution and certainly has widespread acceptance. As with RSS feeds you can select who you choose to follow, but beware of the sheer volume and triviality of some of the messages. Some advocates of Facebook anxious to update on the current status of friends used this as the one place they were anxious to review on a frequent basis and used this as a peer to peer communications platform as well, but extending this to following the antics of your favourite company may be a stretch for the typical b-2-b company.

So if RSS is fading and social media not really cutting it as the single destination for such a diverse range of "need-to-know" information embracing both personal interests and work knowledge, perhaps the old concept of industry portal or community interest site might be a good place to ensure your information is there and regularly updated.  The thing is few companies seem to be asking their customers the question where do they visit on a frequent basis to keep informed of important developments relative to their field of work.


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