Last week I sat reading an email from one of the mailing lists that I receive. Some Internet friends and I have shared our lives on this list for well over a decade. From life and death to kids with croup, we've laughed and cried together. Maybe I'll tell you more about the group one of these days, but for now, I'd like to let you in our conversation from last week: the changing face of business. My friend Cindy Collins-Smith, the editor of Customer Relationship Management magazine who has had the opportunity to edit thought leaders such as Don Peppers/Martha Rogers, Chip Bell and Pete Blackshaw, among others, put it very well and succinctly:
Loyalty, not individual sales, is what will sustain [businesses] over the long term. [The] idea of maximizing profit at every point of contact is 20th century capitalism, not 21st. Successful 21st century capitalists will be looking for ways to build relationships with customers (audiences) over time, not just looking for immediate, short term profits.
This is a fundamental paradigm shift, and many businesses are missing it. In fact, many people are doing their level best to pretend that nothing has changed; that we'll go back to the way things were. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Twenty years ago, very few people had heard of the Internet. Today, it is a staple of every day life from the streets of Manhattan to the mud walkways of Kigali, Rwanda. The world is smaller and more interconnected than ever before, and the process is accelerating. How will you respond to this brave new world? How you respond will determine the degree of your success.
Ten years ago, most businesses poo-pooed the Web. They didn't see the value or the importance. While they were busy holding on to the past, visionary entrepreneurs like my friend and coach Matt Furey were creating Internet empires that would generate millions of dollars in sustainable revenue.
Today, we find ourselves at another juncture very similar to those turning points. Business is once again driven by relationships as it was a century ago. Now, though, those relationships are with like-minded people anywhere in the world. And today, the most powerful technology drivers are the social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and others.
Social media really is the wild west, though. Even those of us who have been involved in various social media for many years (for me, it started over 25 years ago!) are finding it work to stay on top of the ebbs and flows. Yet this is what you as a business leader need to do to remain competitive and to catch this wave. So get on it!
If you want some help, get it from someone who focuses on business first, not the latest gadgets and "cool sites." A number of experienced business people have done just that and so I am working with them to build social media into their overall business strategy. It's your turn.
To YOUR success, ssh, your Geek Whisperer
PS Because my work with my clients is so hands-on, I can only take 3 more clients for the Social Media QuickStart program. Jump on it now!