Thursday, September 21, 2006

Status Skills

At, a site that i'd highly recommend to anyone interested in the consumer space, the September issue focuses on "Status Skills", there defined as:

"those skills that consumers are mastering to make the most of those same goods and services, bringing them status by being good at something, and the story telling that comes with it."

As with all of their content, this issue is chock-full of nice examples of Status Skills in action. Essentially, it refers to the art of empowering, and then leveraging the empowerment of, an increasingly particpatory consumer market.

The idea works like this:

1. Sell a consumer a product
2. Educate them on how to use the product (Give them Skills)
3. Offer further monetized education on how to use the product (Give them More Skills)
4. Create superusers of the product
5. Make the superusers the superstars in the user community (Give them Status)
6. (they allude to this but don't develop it very far) Allow the superusers to help you improve the product (Use their Skills)

I think it's brilliant if it's not exploited by companies for evil - and this whole movement is starting to get companies thinking about the fact that inviting consumers inside of the "castle walls" has the multi-positive result of a) creating greater customer loyalty, b) generating more word-of-mouth referrals, and c) gaining more valuable customer insights.

Since most of the companies referred to in these reports have thousands or millions of customers, this is an area where Informatics can provide a lot of guidance. One company that is already having success in this area is Powered.


Brian said...

Thanks for the link and the mention.

The six steps you outline here define one scenario for using education as a tool of engagement, but if your readers are considering using consumer education to engage their visitors, they don't need to have your six items in place.

Many of the features mentioned are NOT a part of Powered's client learning centers. Nonetheless our results are very very good.

One other note: the status skills techniques work well BEFORE the consumer has purchased as well as after.

Christian Briggs said...

Thanks for the input, Brian. And thanks for pointing out that this process is effective before the consumer has purchased. Research is bearing this out, and i suspect that you have also seen this in action (i presume you are a part of Powered?)