New technologies are drastically changing the competitive landscape for B2B and B2C businesses and these changes impact what you, social media marketer, do every day. In Forrester’s recently released white paper, Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer, Josh Bernoff adds a new spin on Michael Porter’s five forces framework – the fundamental industry analysis tool in any MBA program. Though the interplay of these five factors drives a company’s strategy and path to success, real-time feedback loops, low-to-no barriers of entry, and mobility of talent and resources have completely altered the framework. Bernoff details the new and emerging shifts in the five factors in the diagram below.

How do you keep pace with the changes? Fear not, hard-working marketer! There are many solutions to adjust to the customer-obsessed market and we’ve distilled them down to the following three bits of advice:

  1. Walk a mile: Experience your brand from the top of the sales funnel to closing. Note what worked and what didn’t and then use your feedback to invest in the customer experience. Do your customers want a personalized experience? Do they want location-based information? Listen actively, and then try to anticipate your customers’ needs before even they know them. Reallocate your money from traditional surveys and market research to interactive social channels and brand management platforms.
  2. Be the flame, not the moth: Great inbound marketing is driven by great content. Cut your budget for traditional one-way channels significantly and invest in content generation and interactive apps. By listening to your customers, incorporating feedback into the product development process, and delivering what they need when, you’ll develop a meaningful following organically. With killer content at the core, your customers won’t be able to resist. But don’t trash all of your traditional tendencies; measure your social investments just as you would other channels. After all, it’s social media marketing.
  3. Transformational, not transactional: Filling your pipeline is important, but filling your pipeline with qualified and interested leads that will become your repeat customers is even more important. Once your customer is in the door, use the tools you invested in above (listening platforms, interactive channels) to keep them and transform them into the best brand ambassadors on the planet. Take the collective buying phenomenon as a case in point: repeat customers are what matter most.

If you take nothing else from these two great pictures, take this: be smarter, be faster. In today’s digital world, information is being collected in ever-increasing volumes, and products are changing at ever-increasing speeds based on data-driven insights. This is bringing down competitive barriers in every industry.

Social media is one of the core drivers of these trends, as it is the most direct customer-to-brand data feed. Help your company keep ahead of this curve, or watch your position erode.

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