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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