Some­thing that has become abun­dantly clear to me in the 15+years I have been work­ing with cus­tomers online is that even though you design and build cut­ting edge prod­ucts, many of your cus­tomers often know more about using them than you. I think this rev­e­la­tion occurs to indi­vid­u­als long before orga­ni­za­tions. It is pretty easy to suf­fer from orga­ni­za­tional myopia, think­ing that we know every­thing about the prod­ucts or solu­tions we produce.

It is a company’s job to design and build products/solutions, yes; but cus­tomers’ jobs are using them every day to help run their busi­nesses. This is espe­cially rel­e­vant when we start to talk about high-tech prod­ucts, par­tic­u­larly in the B2B sec­tor, but can apply to just about any­thing from com­put­ers to gui­tars to food mixers.

Cus­tomers use your prod­ucts in every con­ceiv­able con­fig­u­ra­tion you have thought of, and many oth­ers you haven’t even imag­ined yet. They are putting prod­ucts through their paces in imple­men­ta­tions that will have your prod­uct teams’ eyes wide with won­der. These cus­tomers are also a prime source of infor­ma­tion about how your prod­ucts work with every­one else’s – cre­at­ing an inter­op­er­abil­ity task force of a scale way beyond any inter­nal team you could assem­ble. Think about it for a second.

Build­ing Loy­alty and Knowledge

A loyal and knowl­edge­able audi­ence, a massive-scale prov­ing ground for prod­ucts and poten­tially a wealth of prod­uct sup­port knowl­edge… how much of a com­pet­i­tive dif­fer­en­tia­tor could that be? Are you sold yet? So, how can you tap in to ‘the gold that’s in them there hills’? Well one approach is bring­ing this knowl­edge together through a cus­tomer community.

I should prob­a­bly say my busi­ness is com­mu­ni­ties. I believe in them, I am a lit­tle biased, but those who have embraced their com­mu­ni­ties feel the same way.

Com­mu­ni­ties can exist around top­ics wide and nar­row. In the con­sumer world, com­mu­ni­ties can pop up in the most unlikely places. Take Flickr. It isn’t just a photo shar­ing site, when you peel back the cov­ers, you can see groups of incred­i­bly knowl­edge­able pho­tog­ra­phers and artists shar­ing tips, exper­tise, and advice on tech­nique. Live Jour­nal isn’t just a blog­ging site, it is a com­mu­nity of writ­ers, poets, artists who dis­cuss every topic imag­in­able. And GolfWRX isn’t just a place for buyers/sellers of golf equip­ment, it’s one of the most con­cen­trated com­mu­ni­ties of equip­ment and player infor­ma­tion and swing analy­sis exper­tise that there is.

What does this mean for Business-to-Business Communities?

In the B2B space, take Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud for exam­ple, exist­ing and poten­tial cus­tomers are try­ing to use highly sophis­ti­cated and pow­er­ful solu­tions to run their busi­nesses. They are look­ing to get advice from other expert users, under­stand how solu­tions will do what they need, con­firm if they are com­pat­i­ble with the tech­nol­ogy in their stack, and deter­mine if the risk is worth tak­ing with this vendor.

Hav­ing this open and hon­est dis­cus­sion in your domain is a key part of your brand expe­ri­ence. When some­one rec­om­mends your prod­ucts, it’s a win. How­ever, in the spirit of open­ness, there is also value in not rec­om­mend­ing a prod­uct just to get the sale. A prospec­tive customer’s per­cep­tion of your com­pany can also be pos­i­tively influ­enced if you let them know that the prod­uct they are con­sid­er­ing is prob­a­bly not going to work for them. They will come back again for advice when they know they will get hon­est and truth­ful rec­om­men­da­tions. In these instances you’re cre­at­ing stored credit rather than resent­ment for some­thing that doesn’t work.

The ‘AAA for Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud’

When mov­ing beyond the sale and into usage of the prod­uct, access to experts and their spe­cial­ized knowl­edge becomes more critical.

The Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud audi­ence has these same expec­ta­tions of on demand access to Adobe experts, cus­tomer care agents AND other cus­tomers doing sim­i­lar things to them, which is why I am delighted to share news of the roll­out of the Mar­ket­ing Cloud Com­mu­nity. This new Adobe com­mu­nity is designed to start fill­ing any pre­vi­ous gaps in con­nect­ing cus­tomers and prospects with a com­mu­nity of solu­tions experts.

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Round the clock, regard­less of geog­ra­phy, cus­tomers and users of Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud solu­tions can get help, advice and con­nect with other users, Adobe solu­tion experts and cus­tomer care con­sul­tants to help them.   If you’re an Ana­lyt­ics cus­tomer, or think­ing of using Tar­get, or a devel­oper of Expe­ri­ence Man­ager, then the com­mu­nity has an area for you to talk to, con­nect with and tap the knowl­edge of peo­ple who live and breathe these solutions.

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Even if you’re not a cus­tomer, you can use the com­mu­nity. What bet­ter way of mak­ing the deci­sion about using a solu­tion than talk­ing to other cus­tomers? Jump in, see what I mean. I like to think of it as AAA for Mar­ket­ing Cloud users. You hit a bump and have a ques­tion, and we’ll get you back on the road.

And best of all … we have built all this with our own Adobe Expe­ri­ence Man­ager Social Com­mu­ni­ties capa­bil­i­ties. What bet­ter way to show­case the capa­bil­i­ties of this solu­tion; and I am delighted to be one of the first teams to ‘use it in anger’ so to speak.

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There is a lot more to come for the com­mu­nity over the next few months in terms of fea­tures, and I’ll be keep­ing you updated reg­u­larly. But in the mean­time, come and stop by the Mar­ket­ing Cloud Com­mu­nity and say hi. The whole team is look­ing for­ward to see­ing you there.

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