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I’m old enough to know a lot of things, just from life experience. I know that newspapers are where you get your political news and how you look for a job. I know that music comes from stores. I know that if you want to have a conversation with someone, you call them on the phone. I know that complicated things like software and encyclopedias have to be created by professionals. In the last fifteen years, I’ve had to unlearn every one of those things, and a million others, because those things have stopped being true.” (Clay Shirky Here Comes Everybody” 2008, p. 320-321).

On a bicycle made for three - CambiamentoThe social and economic reality has changed dramatically. Partially because of the so-called new technologies. With the global changing, also the process of buying has changed.

Eurisko summed up the social and economic change with two keywords: complex society e small world. “In these two keywords everything is contained: a rapid development of resources and individuals expertise in a context where institutions weakening as «provider» of sense, security and meanings. This time are marked by higher risks, additional challenges and positions of responsibility for the people. A world that «shrinks» because the ability to «follow it» and live it is increased: because everything is interconnected.

It’s the end of the market as we knew it. In the past there were abundant resources, the value resided in transactions, the businesses were stable because the industries were well defined and the market conversations flew in one direction only (from brand to consumers), because the information we got were limited. Today, thanks also to technologies, we have much information and lot of collaboration and sharing platforms that provide support to groups of individuals previously possible only through organizations or institutions. The emergence of another form of economy is another sign of social change: the collaborative economy (Ouishare) “defined as practices and business models based on horizontal networks and participation of a community, transforming how we live, work and create. This economy is built on distributed power and trust within communities as opposed to centralized institutions, blurring the lines between producer and consumer. These communities meet and interact on online networks and peer-to-peer platforms, as well as in shared spaces such as fablabs and coworking spaces.

We live in times where consumers have enormous power – to the point that today we tend to define them social consumers or prosumers – where definition of brand is not in the hands of producers anymore: word of mouth is worth 5 times more (in terms of credibility) than advertising and the consumer purchase path and plays (from idea to product acquisition) is almost entirely online. This implies that being online it is necessary, with a presence that go with the user from the «stimulus» to the acquisition of goods.

Being online is not just a matter of places (website, Facebook, Twitter Google+, etc.), is a matter of content and tone (informative, not promotional). In fact, what sells it’s building relations and to build them we have to be established trust first. To achieve this, humans have always rely on storytelling, because while telling our stories we engage with others in conversations, thus building trust. As Graham Brown says “storytelling is the way in which we shape meanings and create the social context, that is how we build trust and relations..”

Conversating - CambiamentoBeing online is not just a matter of technology. For consumers the online does not make sense without the offline: because we prefers social interactions offline and because sharing and having relationships is the foundation of our existence even before the birth of the internet.

As Seth Godin said recently “The brand is a story. But it’s a story about you, not about the brand. The story makes us say we “love Google” or “love Harley”… but what do we really love? We love ourselves. We love the memory we have of how that brand made us feel once. We love that it reminds us of our mom, or growing up, or our first kiss.”

Thus in a market where market are conversations, marketing are stories and interactions based on content. Producing content is the most challenging part of a marketer today. The starting point is always get inside your audience’s heads but planning it properly is an art not so easy to master. Good marketers are becaming good content planners and content team builders. That’s why marketing is so challenging.

[Photo credit: “On a bicycle made for three” by National Library of Ireland on The Commons; “Conversating” by Kyrre Gjerstad]

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