Using Social Media to Understand the Topic of Marketing Finance

Jonathan Knowles and Richard Ettenson

As companies, we would all like to believe that our products and services sit at the center of our customers’ universes. Reluctantly, however, we recognize that our customers’ true interest lies in what our products and services can do for them, and that our services are only a means to an end. As Peter Drucker shrewdly observed nearly 50 years ago, “What the customer buys and considers value is never just a product. It is always a utility, that is, what a product or service does for him.”

In a Web 2.0 world of interest-based communities and peer-to-peer communications, it is therefore vital for companies to understand the nature of the customer universe in which their products and services compete for attention, preference and advocacy.

The customer's universe does not orbit around Tylenol or Bechtel or Goldman Sachs. The center of a customer's universe is always a need such as “pain management” or “designing an industrial plant” or “getting funding.”