Is your digital gap widening?

Blogging about Forrester’s newest survey of US consumers, CEO George Colony says, “Technology is changing your customer, and your customer will change your company.”  He cites a litany of ways consumer behavior has and continues to change and follows by pointing out “what it means” in terms of the ways companies market.  The implications go well beyond marketing, though.

The findings generally confirm what most people think but do shed light on the pace and breadth of change: consumers are moving from off- to on-line channels, in all age groups; America’s media habits aren’t just shifting from old to new but have now reached 50/50; 88% under the age of 40 are regular internet users, which means our future customers are changing fastest;  half of Americans research products on-line before buying and half of US adults play video games.

Colony covers the implications for marketing to consumers, but the changes highlighted by Forrester also suggest that marketing to employees, investors and others has to change, too.  Those groups also increasingly rely on digital resources and are changing their media habits, researching employment and investment opportunities on-line and moving their social interaction to the web.  And they are doing it far faster than the companies they’re studying, working for or investing in.

Think about whether your organization has digested and acted on the implications.  For example, does your company emphasize interactive, online training, perhaps even using game-simulation?  Research your company via its website as if you were a potential investor.  Does the experience impress you and give you a sense of the organization’s personality and special qualities or is it more of a templated collection of facts and filings?  Google the company.  Do you get meaningful content from the kinds of sources your web-savvy prospective employee or investor will recognize and respect?

The debate within your organization shouldn’t be whether or not to tweet or blog.  It should be what it has always been: are you reaching your “customers” (including employees and investors) where they are and making an effective case for yourselves in a way and place that matches their decision-making style?  Or, as your stakeholders move deeper into digital realms, is there a widening gap?

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