Friday, July 15, 2011

The Power is Shifting (once again)

There used to be a time when individuals would not only associate more with their career, it was also their identity, who they were.  There was the local doctor, the mailman, the nurse, the butcher, the baker and many others.  And during those days, everyone seemed to be treating their customers as they would their neighbors.  Of course, in most cases, they literally were.
Then some businesses realized that, by marketing to a larger group of people, more customers would come to their store and buy their product or service.  This meant more money in the bank for those businesses.  And with this extra money, they invested in some more marketing and made advertizing promises to an even higher number of people.  Television, Radio, Newspaper Ads… all of those cost a lot of money and for the people who had some, it meant they’d make even more.  In time, those businesses distanced themselves from the other smaller ones to a point of even being perceived as untouchable.  And for the longest time they were…
This also lead to a new discovery, because “mass media” was only available to the people who had money, those larger businesses realized that even if some of their customers weren’t completely satisfied with the product or service, they wouldn’t be able to tell the other customers.  At least, not on a scale that would prevent enough of them to come buy again from them.  And so quality started to go down while prices went up.  Of course, this meant even higher profits for the select few. 
But then everything changed…
The new century gave rise to a new phenomenon… Social Media. 
Now, because of Social Media and the Internet, we are seeing a shift in the “power to communicate to the masses”.  Today, everyone has access to a much larger network of people with whom they can share their thoughts, frustrations, great experiences and bad experiences.  And if the news is something those people feel is worth sharing, they do exactly that.  Then other people do the same… until, in a matter of minutes, thousands and thousands of people are hearing about it.  And the best thing about it… it’s FREE!
What does this mean for big businesses?
Well for one, it means that it’s now becoming harder for them to get away with their empty promises.  Customers are much more educated, a lot more skeptic and expect more for their money… and how can you blame them?  After being “taken” all those years they are now looking for some redemption.
Now, the question is... how are you going to adapt to this new reality?

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