Mutual Marketing

I had meant to post today on the topic of 'mutual marketing' - the challenges and opportunities which face mutually-inco...

July 22, 2003

I had meant to post today on the topic of ‘mutual marketing’ – the challenges and opportunities which face mutually-incorporated societies given that they start from an initial confluence of stakeholder interest: i.e. their investors are also their customers!

However, I wanted to take this wider, to make a more general point: that mutual marketing is also symmetrical marketing. In contrast to the assymmetric warfare approach of traditional marketing (promote messages, or ‘educate’ audiences to think like we do), mutuals are engaged in a dialogue of shared interests with their appointed management. Corporate managements, by contrast are merely shareholder agents.

This is a pet topic of mine, but also a serious area of market-need (which I am addressing..)

In principle, the balance of long vs short-termism (profits vs growth) could therefore be achieved through consensus within a mutual environment.

In this stakeholder-accountable age, mutuals therefore have a big head-start in creating and sustaining competitive advantage through trsnsparency. But what should they actually do about it?

The difficulty they have is that they have often sought to downplay this advantage in the past and compete on pure pricing. They have eroded a prime source of competitive advantage, which now needs rebuilding from the ground up.

But then I got distracted anyway by this great site at!

At a simple level, this is just Lloyds TSB offering to place a logo on a credit card. However, just imagine what would happen if 1 million people all signed up to the same cause and placed the same logo on their card. What power would such an ad hoc community wield? What could it request? What dialogue could it engage in? What would be the new dynamic?

With an apparently tokenistic gesture towards individualism, Lloyds TSB is actually doing something quite profound. It is opening the door to symmetrical relationships with its customers. I shall add one to my collection…

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