She has identified an emerging group of online platforms which she believes represent a uniquely-new breed of ‘organic’ marketing platforms. (Hint: This is not an article about eco-friendly marketing.)
Maltoni writes in her piece:
These kinds of Web properties are hybrid versions of portals, forum discussions, community destinations that are also part social networks. The reason why I define them as part of organic marketing is that their sustainability and value propositions are directly tied to participation. They are the new kind of interactive marketing, made interactive by both parties, businesses and customers.
Her insights here are particularly interesting because she seeks to reframe how organic is defined by the search-engine-marketing world, which has co-opted its meaning. “Organic marketing is not just search and content, it is much greater than those two elements combined,” writes Maltoni. “It is the sum total of all the actions that surround a transaction.”
She goes on to cite two marketers — Pinny Gniwisch and Mark Goren — whom she believes are forward thinkers in this area. I would recommend taking a few minutes to check out her descriptions of them in her piece.
What I find most interesting about this piece is that I have seen significant evidence that this concept of organic marketing — not necessarily always by that name — is gaining real traction in the marketplace.
> Participation marketing: Maltoni’s insights are very much related to some of the dialogue we were having on last week’s “Changing How You Think About Marketing to Your ‘Mobile’ Brand Community” piece on this blog. My friend and colleague, John Rotheray, has been developing some interesting concepts and software related to participation marketing, and he advocates a new breed of platforms for enabling participation marketing, especially in a mobile context. One of his comments from that discussion noted, “Participation marketing will require a new paradigm in phone software to enable three way interactions with brands.” Examining the core of his point, I think John is absolutely talking about an organic marketing platform.
> Contribution marketing: Maltoni’s insights are also very much related to a session I participated in this past Friday at the Center for Brand and Product Management at Wisconsin that was led by Intuit-founder Scott Cook. He has recently published an article in the Harvard Business Review titled, “The Contribution Revolution: Letting Volunteers Build Your Business.” In the session, Cook talked about the many ways that Intuit is integrating its customers into ‘co-creation’ of end products and services — in many cases, blurring the lines between what is the domain of product/service delivered by Intuit and what is true social community built and perpetuated by Intuit’s customers. While not suggesting every business can take the same approach as Intuit, Cook believes that there is significant benefit to embracing customer contributions as part of product/service design and development. “OK, I’m not saying you can or should transform your company into a Google or a Skype whose business model is primarily based on user contributions,” writes Cook in his HBR article. “But you should understand the power of the phenomenon and, as I have, learn from the growing number of companies in traditional industries—firms like Honda, Procter & Gamble, Best Buy, and Hyatt—that are tapping user contributions to improve products, better serve customers, generate new business, reduce costs, boost employee performance, and more. Contribution-driven results like those are achievable for pretty much any business.” Examining the core of his presentation and article, I think Scott is absolutely talking about an organic marketing approach.
It’s interesting how these concepts evolve in parallel and eventually converge. That time is now.
I also have been having many conversations, lately, about the concept of ‘customer co-creation’ of products and services, but I have found myself skeptical of this concept. I believe the term ‘co-creation’ is attempting to cover anything and everything that integrates customer input. Also it is a very product/service-development-centric concept. Marketing is more than just a product or service; it is the holistic and coordinated set of activities a company pursues to go to market. That’s why I believe we need a term more sophisticated than co-creation.
Organic marketing, as a concept, is very powerful.
I look forward to more dialogue (and posts from Maltoni) on this topic, and I’d suggest taking a moment to check out her piece.