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October 2007
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December 2007

Does P&G need another community portal or a platform?

Procter & Gamble has launched a portal for pet lovers - According to NY Times:

...Web portal that looks something like a Yahoo or AOL for pet owners, with a bit of Facebook and MySpace thrown in.The site,, offers a full menu of information about dogs and cats, from the serious (how to diagnose your pet’s illnesses) to the silly (funny animal videos). There are links to shopping sites (like and articles about topics like what to do if visitors are allergic to your pet (hint: vacuum). Visitors are encouraged to set up social networking profiles in order to meet other pet owners.

While it's a great idea, it raises some questions in my mind. Frankly, I don't have all the answers but it can set a context for a discussion, I think:

  1. Can such portals aggregate "interested" customers and create sustained interest ?  Am not sure. There is a lot of content on the web for pet owners. I think marketers need to add context around the content rather than just content. I personally don't think there is a need for one more portal and consumers are not waiting for one, I presume.
  2. Is it still old world thinking? The TV era was about creating content and it helped aggregate audience. During the later years,there was proliferation of channels but it was still limited. The internet has opened-up a flurry of 'content creators' with micro audiences. So, it may just  be impossible to lead with content alone. The clutter in  new media is  lot more higher than traditional media. If TV soaps had a 13 or a 26 week interest, such content might have 13 days or 26 days interest?!! How do marketers keep the momentum going?
  3. How can P&G create a platform? Thinking laterally, Google creates APIs that can be plugged-in with other sites and hence it is a sort of glue where ever users go on the web. It's in the context of the user rather than the marketer. So, do marketers like P&G have to create CPIs, where  C stands for customers. If I was a pet owner, P&G builds a set of CPIs that can help pet owners get content the way they want.It pulls content from different creators. It's an equivalent of a  "TV remote" in the offline world. If I don't like the content, I switch it off and move to another. P&G's site needs have a lot such CPIs which consumers can use. It may be mobile reminders, email alerts, or a plug-in into my igoogle  which is an independent channel for pet owners, beauty, grooming etc. P&G has to create an open marketing platform for content developers to use its CPIs.

What do you think? To me this makes a lot of sense and seems far more relevant than creating one portal after another.


Experience is marketing

In s+b magazine, James Gilmore and Joseph Pine II write that:

Companies in consumer and business markets now pay more and more to reach fewer and fewer households and executive decision makers.

What companies need, therefore, is a new approach to demand creation that actually enables — make that forces — a company to be what it says it is. To borrow the phrase architect Jon Jerde made famous, that discipline is placemaking. Places are what provide the primary means for companies to demonstrate exactly what they are for both current and potential customers. Companies that embrace placemaking understand a fundamental dictum for contending with authenticity: The experience is the marketing. In other words, the best way to generate demand for any offering — whether a commodity, good, service, other experience, or even a transformation — is for potential (and current) customers to experience that offering in a place so engaging that they can’t help but pay attention, and then pay up as a result by buying that offering. Stop saying what your offerings are through advertising, and start creating places — permanent or temporary, physical or virtual, fee-based or free — where people can experience what those offerings, as well as your enterprise, actually are.

Add social value to your customer's financial value

Forrester has some interesting insights on the growing importance of social value in determining customer value:

  • As marketers, we find ourselves relying more and more on consumers to impact others in their purchase decisions.  Evaluating customers based only on their business or financial value - such as my much-loved Life Time Value, or an operation's ROI - is *has been*. 

What's social value?

          I've simplified it into 3 components:

1) A customer's knowledge and involvement - in short, his level expertise  and  interest  in the  category and brand. 

2)  How he participates, and the value of his connections - what social activities is he involved with (both on and offline) and where (on what networks is he active).  The value refers to the value of the connections themselves:  are the communities more tightly-knit or diffused, are they public or more intimite.

3) The number of contacts the customer has in each network.

Your CRM or loyalty program members and active web users would be great starting points for social scoring.