Community Marketing or Advertising?

While Accenture, IBM and CapGemini blasted their ads, the traditional response of the Indian IT marketer has been that we target a very small base of organizations, so ads would be overkills. When we first started discussing this, back in the early part of the last decade, we assumed that when the firms were bigger they would end up having to advertise, as one-to-one would become unwieldy.

One of the strong followers of the tight, community building strategy has been Cognizant. And I’ve been wondering whether now that they are a “big” company they will move towards a more traditional strategy, with ads and fanfare. The news on the NASSCOM street is that they are sticking to their traditional approach, even as they target aggressive growth on a big base. Why?

Answer is simple – the evolution of community technologies is enabling the effective scaling of one to one communication. Ok, it’s really one-to-many but technology sophistication allows mass customization to the degree that it is almost personal. And the responses can be really one-to-one. Cognizant calls their system Cognizant 2.0 which integrates the Cognizant view for all their clients and employees. Other IT systems have similar tools that look remarkably like Facebook in their functionality. And then there are commercially available products like Salesforce’s Chatter and former Wipro Vice Chairman, Vivek Paul’s Kinetic Glue. What these tools do is that if you have a pretty good idea of your customers and prospects, you can connect with them, directly. No need for advertising.

The success of the community approach is more labour intensive than ad blasts. But that plays in favour of firms from emerging countries which are rich in talent but poor in capital. Will more firms across the B2B spectrum adopt community cultivation as their marketing strategy?

  1. Vijay Menon
  2. Raj Badarinath
  3. Jessie Paul

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