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Graham Hill

James

I am not sure whether you are not getting a bit ahead of yourself.

Whilst communities are undoubtedly important and are likely to get more important over time as on-line/mobile connectness grows, the idea that a community of users will be the most powerful intangible asset that a company has smacks of wishful thinking.

There are a number of practical obstacles in the way of communitarian nirvana. Firstly, except in the maturity & decline stages of a product's lifecycle, the number of prospective or initial customers is likely to outnumber the number of actual customers. That makes 'traditional marketing' more important than social marketing to get the good word out, to encourage trial and start climbing up the diffusion curve. Secondly, communities form when customers are interested enough in a product to want to talk about it to each other. That may be so for some products, but the majority of customers are likely to be too busy getting on with life to be concerned with the ins-and-outs of say, cat food. Finally, The vast majority of conversations are currently off-line and likely to stay that way for the forseeable future. Whilst not impossible, it is much more difficult to develop a community off-line than on. And to monitor it effectively.

Whilst I am a keen fan of customer-driven communities, I believe that they are a part of the broad communications spectrum, not (and not likely in the near future) to become a dominant part of it.

But then I may be wrong.

Graham Hill

James Cherkoff

Thanks Graham. No I think you are right and I would always go for a range of marketing activities over a single club. However, sometimes, I like to see if I can stretch the point to make a point - if you see what I mean ;-) That said I do think that community building will become a much, much more important part of the marketing mix in the coming years.

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