How can businesses, especially vulnerable start-ups, become prominent, indispensable and vital in the minds of their customers? What about their not-yet-but-hopefully-soon customers? Brian Solis’ What’s the Future of Business addresses philosophically how to keep your business relevant to your customers and end users, as well as your future patrons.
Solis advocates taking advantage of current technologies that your customers already employ, like social media or smart phones, to market or promote your business. They’re already on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter, so meet them there. Engage your customer’s 140-word diatribe against your long line-ups. Charm them when they Snapchat or Pinterest your featured sweater in a different colour than you are retailing it. Be ready to adapt your strategies to new social mediums and technologies as they arise. “Listen, learn, engage, adapt” is Solis’ refrain.
Solis is particularly interested in how social media is about shared experiences—specifically before purchasing, during purchasing and after purchasing the product. Positive or not, those experiences are shared in a network of like-minded strangers. In the current culture, the opinions of these “like-minded strangers” carry a good deal of weight. If you cherish your business’ reputation, this is where the fight to maintain it is waged. Solis encourages that a business’ marketers, IT personnel and customer service reps all need to be savvy in the application and appropriate use of sites like Twitter and Facebook in order to defend effectively the viability of the business.
The book is set up very much like a glorified PowerPoint presentation: with comics to prettily illustrate points; each page is short, pithy and visually stimulating with graphs and screen captures; each chapter highlights where we are in the original table of contents. It’s a bit too cutesy for my taste, but it does make the book a fast read.
What is the Future of Business encourages creative thinking but does offer some examples on how to approach this challenge. It still strikes me as a book for visionaries—AKA management—with the all creative nuts-n-bolts being handed over to IT or customer service. Solis is advocating for new management thinking—places to put money and new talent--and this is a workbook to inspire it.