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Forrester's ladder of participation and impact on marketing

I was reflecting over the weekend about Forrester's Social Technographics Ladder of Participation. While it was focussed on emerging social technologies, I felt there were some trends, learnings and practices that can be applied from here to refresh marketing thinking, practices, evolving needs to embrace technologies that can make some changes happen and thereby make marketing more relevant to enterprises and CEOs. Let's take a look at this Ladder of Participation first:


I see the marketing eco-system too, taking a very similar shape(with either customers or prospects) in the years to come. The need to 'engage' and run marketing campaigns across a similar ladder is bound to become increasingly important. Marketing will need to 'bucket' its segments of customers or prospects across the spectrum of Inactives to Creators. The 'old world marketing' practice would have stopped with collecters - who I would define as repeat purchasers. Normally, marketing practices would have stopped there.

But, in the 'new world of marketing', customers will be more involved, participative and conversational. Thereby, customers will leave a 'trail of information' behind, in enterprises. For an enterprise, the creators will be the most loyal and demanding. They need to be recognized, valued and encouraged to converse. The ones who do it, will become identifiable and the most important. Also, products/brands will have to become 'information platforms' in such a world. This will also lead to customized design of products and services for them.

The critics are the ones who will have to be 'listened' to. With emerging channels or touch points, the enterprises must open a channel of communication to hear and rectify their problems. They are the ones who can potentially move-up the ladder of participation.

The collectors need to be 'prodded' to talk rather just buy again and again, get them to share their experience and frustrations with the product. And the joiners will have to be moved to become collecters.

This kind of marketing will combine a lot of information, analytical insights, real-time marketing automation to talk to customers in different behavioural states and stages in the ladder. And when enterprises talk of millions and millions of such identified customers or prospects, the need for marketing to deliver scalable, real-time, right-time marketing will only become sacrosanct. The ones who will practice it, will have the ear of CEOs/CFOs and the rest will be left behind.