Friday, May 15, 2009

Gov 2.0 - An Example of Un-marketing?

Gov 2.0 an example of Un-Marketing?

First, let me recap the notion of un-marketing as it pertains to the commercial marketplace. Historically, corporate marketing has been all about managing the communication of a product or service and dishing it up to an audience that is theoretically listening. Rather than speaking openly, listening to the customer's point of view, or participating in a community, historical marketing aims to carve out a subsection of individuals who are most likely to take to a product or service and become customers. After sufficient data is gathered on customer demographics, consumer behavior, etc, the product/services are positioned and the campaign is launched. Engagement is entertained when the time is right for the company, all with a plan. So, in a sense, everything is controlled and delivered from the "ivory towers." Website content and promotional materials often speak with a purely corporate aura and a nose, eyes, mouth and emotional quotient are no where in sight.

The interesting thing is that a human relationship with a company (as human as a company can be) is often what consumers are yearning for, and is often what turns a consumer into a brand evangelist. If a company only allows for engagement and openness at scheduled times, with a strategy in place, consumers become skeptical. And as Elvis said "we can't go on together with suspicious minds."

Un-marketing on the other hand, is the mind frame of starting with the customer first, and working back towards your product/service. Rather than simply "launching" a product with the "take it or leave it" mentality un-marketing
looks more like this:

- Participate in your community
- Listen to the conversations happening outside of your boardroom (and REALLY listen)
- Allow things to be open and happen as they do, as they will
- Don't try to control everything - relax your grip...

Now, take the Government. The Government, I will add, is an interesting species because not only is it the largest customer in the world, it is also its own entity with different functioning divisions, all marketing themselves. The Government plays the role of customer and provider all the time. Yet consider its past reputation of being vacuum sealed. Information is disseminated and ideas are exchanged, but in reality, considering things at large, an antonym for "open" would be a better description than a synonym. Thankfully, things are changing. Gov 2.0 is opening up channels for discussion within agencies, on social media sites, with the public. For all the naysayers out there - there are solid examples that are hard to dispute. Just consider the conversations going on via GovLoop everyday, the CDC's use of social media tools to disseminate information about the swine flu and peanut recall crisis and their new media website, the EPA's "Take Five" initiative deployed for Earth Day, NASA's spacebook, and hundreds of agency blogs and twitter sites. Also consider the recently launched White House blog page with a Twitter site, and a Facebook page. The Facebook page now has 201,592 fans and re: the launch of the twitter page, 5 minutes after the page went live, it had 585 followers, and within minutes of refreshing had 731 it has 97,277 followers.

Many are skeptical in considering this notion of Government opening up and social media tools. Yesterday, Andrew Wilson of Health and Human Services presented a webinar titled: Social Media and the H1N1 Flu Virus: Lessons Learned from the Peanut Recall. At one point he mentioned that recently he attended the SXSW conference and described the surprise many from industry exhibited upon learning about all the social media tools the Government is already using!

When it is all boiled down, un-marketing is about listening to your customers, engaging, allowing things to be more open, and quite simply, interacting as a human. The Government is displaying examples of this and I commend the leaders that have this sense of marketing acumen.

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