Discovering Columbus

Dawn breaks outside my window in Columbus, Ohio, where I got in after midnight. It’s now 6:07am. Another minimal sleep night, but better than the night before.

We passed through Columbus last September when we drove across the country, but that’s no more Being In Town than one would be flying over it. Charles Kuralt once said that the Interstate Highway System made it possible to go coast to coast without seeing anything at all. Such was our acquaintance with Columbus.

But here I am, about to head over to iCitizen, where I get to listen and participate in discussions today, then give the opening keynote tomorrow. (Here’s the Agenda. Here’s the blog.)

For that I’m looking for a metaphor to describe what VRM will do for customers by equipping them with tools that are theirs alone, and not those of vendor silos. I’ve never done Dungeons & Dragons or any of those adventure games where one acquires special powers while going off to fight bad guys and slay hostile andimals and stuff, but I think what I’m looking for might be in that area. (Though the tools would be for relating, not killing. Maybe stuff along the strength and charisma lines…) Got any ideas?

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7 Responses to Discovering Columbus

  1. Give them what they’ve never had before: an authentic voice.

    Vendors have dominated the channels of communication for so long, even their customers are beginning to believe that it is only right that customers too should speak as promoters with the vendor’s voice on the vendor’s authority and commission.

    However, VRM redresses the balance in the relationship. Instead of customers risking their integrity by being persuaded to speak on the vendor’s behalf, customers can now speak on customers’ behalf.

    We have vendors and the promoters that they commission, promoters that should now be proud of the authentic voice with which they speak – instead of an unchallenged pretence of speaking on the customers’ behalf.

    With VRM we also recognise customers and the more vocal among them, who represent those of a like mind, those blogging ambassadors who should now rightly seek commission from their fellow customers, not from the vendors that inveigle their favour. And so, the champions of customers then speak with a voice authentic of and to customers.

    So, vendors and their promoters that they fund, are soon to be in fair market of equals, with customers and their promoters that they fund.

    Authentic vendors, authentic customers, all speaking authentically.

    Authentic markets are authentic conversations.

  2. Joe Andrieu says:


    The hard part is that most things in that space end up being overly favorable to the protagonist: rings of invisibility, magic armor, glowing swords, etc.

    What you really want, though, are items that create new value for everyone rather than simply give a new offensive/defensive weapon. There might be a spell or two that could work…

    Here are a few to consider:
    Dispel Magic
    Clarity of Mind
    Freedom of Movement
    Find the Gap
    Find the Path
    Discern Lies
    Know Opponent
    Locate Object
    See invisibility
    True Seeing
    Accelerate Movement
    Speak to Allies

    That might spur some creative thinking.

  3. Graham Sadd says:

    I don’t see VRM as a threat to CRM but as an opportunity to justify the word ‘relationship’ (apologies to JP) by facilitating a two-way conversation between Buyer and Seller.
    Go to any street market to see discovery, conversation, comparison, transaction and exchange take place without either party needing to know each others name, address and inside leg measurement before they begin.

  4. Go to the Blue Danube on High Street and have a bowl of chili while you exercise a wonderful jukebox.

  5. Mike Warot says:

    One tool would be to offer someone with a CRM the right to read a specific part of my VRM database (as an Object Capability) on an ongoing basis, to keep their database aware of my changed email address, etc.
    If they mess up, the right gets revoked, and they don’t get any more free updates. Their database slowly goes stale.

  6. PJ says:

    I think you might be overlooking that VRM for customers allows customers to aggregate their own intentions, unchanneled by a corporate menu. Actually, a menu might not be a bad metaphor: VRM lets you tell the chef what you want for dinner instead of being forced to choose from a corporate-limited menu of options. There will be give and take (V: “Look, if you want fresh lobster, that’s $X/lb, is that still okay?” C: “Yeah, this is my grandparent’s 50th anniversary, spare no expense.” V: “We’ve got bulk discounts that we can use if you also get Y lbs of shrimp… shrimp cocktails maybe?” C: “Great idea! I’ve been looking for an appetizer!”)

  7. Monavie says:

    I like your suggestions. Go to any street market to see discovery, conversation, comparison, transaction and exchange take place without either party needing to know each others name, address and inside leg measurement before they begin.

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