Fear of a small enemy

Most big organizations operate out of fear as much as they do out of a desire for growth. And a new fear is spreading through the marketing department: fear of the little guy.

Forever and ever, the masses were king. People were disconnected, so annoying three or six or even 10% of your audience wasn’t such a big deal.

Now, though, that lone disgruntled customer can make an awful lot of noise on her blog.

While some organizations are trying to flip the funnel and give a megaphone to their happiest customers (leveraging their positive word of mouth) more are obsessed with silencing the dissenters.

Just as asymmetrical warfare has turned our geopolitical system upside down, the same thing is happening in the marketing world. While it’s tempting to spend all your time stamping out the little enemies, the architecture of the system favors a strategy of embracing and leveraging your happy constituents instead.

PS Jeff Jarvis has a different take here. Of course, I think it’s pretty obvious you must do both. Your enemies, though small in number, can really hurt you now.

PPS So, I wrote this, then read Jarvis, then a minute later, heard from Tom. Go figure.

[reposted due to Typepad’s crash yesterday]