Viewed through a B2B lens, Lisa Gansky’s TEDxMotorCity presentation shows how a “meshy” perspective on marketing is quickly becoming more essential than optional.
Lisa Gansky explains how “The Future of Business is the ‘mesh'”
Tech entrepreneur and environmentalist Lisa Gansky says, “The future of business is the mesh,” meaning that businesses which embrace “sharing platforms” as their model will be those best-equipped to succeed in the long term.
Like most TED Talks (in my opinion!), hers is fascinating in its own right, but I think her consumer-world ideas and examples have plenty of currency in our world of demand generation as well. Here are some of the highlights I found relevant.
“Access to certain kinds of goods and services will trump ownership of them. It’s the pursuit of better things easily shared.”
The first thing that comes to mind for me is the growing momentum of businesses adopting cloud-based services for IT infrastructure and CRM (customer relationship management).
Marketers’ widespread awareness and use of Salesforce and Eloqua, for example, puts us firmly in touch with the idea that “shareability” is a must, not a nice-to-have, in our endeavors. It may seem like a conceptual stretch, but how we do business influences how we market other businesses.
A model mesh company taps social connections, mobility and analytics to optimize their business.
Lisa Gansky explains how Zipcar, the car sharing enterprise, exemplifies a mesh company: “They understood that they were an information business, not a car business.”
In other words, they focus on understanding and improving not only the service they offer, but also the dynamics of customer interaction with their service: “Zipcar collects data on how we interact and use the service to be able to keep wowing us….They watch how we move to anticipate what we want next.”
When we as marketers are at the top of our game, we’re all about the “define, refine and scale” process Lisa advocates. And since our audiences tend to be mobile-equipped and social-savvy, we’d be missing a very big trick indeed if we didn’t:
- Tap these elements for data
- Listen to what the data tells us about what how our customers prefer to research and use our products/services
- Adjust our conversations and programs accordingly
“The opportunity and challenge with mesh businesses…is to make sharing irresistible.”
We know this one by heart: today, it’s imperative to make our messages, offers and content not only easy, but irresistible to share. It’s not enough to add share icons for Twitter and LinkedIn to every bit of content; we have to make the bits themselves compelling and easy to digest.
As Lisa cleverly states it, “A platform is an invitation”—and a business is a platform. Our key questions as marketers should be: “How do the businesses we market invite their customers to engage? And how can I best enable that engagement?”
Share failures rather than fail to share: Expose what doesn’t work for you, so others can learn from it.
I’ll be honest with you…while I like the sound of this (and her example of bike-sharing schemes), I’m not sure how well this applies to our business. If you have an idea of how it relates, I’d really love to hear it! Please share in the comments.
PS: Watch the whole 15-minute talk to discover “the sexiest two words in business” near the end.