Energizing Your Target Market!

Hello fellow followers!

Well, we have talked about talking and listening objectives with the groundswell, however we must learn how to get people talking and spreading the word!  Word of mouth advertising is perhaps the most effective type of advertising; it is regarded as trustworthy, believable, self-reinforcing, and self-spreading.  Usually, if a product is worth using it generates a ton of word-of-mouth, as people cannot help but talk about it to their family, friends and colleagues.

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This is where our next groundswell POST objective comes in: energizing the groundswell!  Energizing means to tap into the power of word of mouth by connecting with your most committed customers and turning them on with your products/services.  Here is how you can begin:

  1. Tap into customers’ enthusiasm with ratings and reviews – this works best for retail companies and companies with direct customer contact
  2. Create a community! This works best for truly passionate customers who have an affinity for one another.
  3. Participate in and energize online communities of your brand enthusiasts

Your customers are  your best asset.  It is therefore important to utilize them to your advantage in order to sell your product or service.  Don’t forget, however, that you must take the good with the bad.  When your customers write a bad review, address it immediately and take the steps to improve the product or service and satisfy the customer to keep them coming back.

It is important to note that energizing the groundswell is riskier than talking or listing, because now you are dealing with people who are going to talk about your brand.  In order to energize your customers you must be prepared for a new way of thinking.  Here are some tips:

  1. Figure out if you WANT to energize the groundswell – energizing works well for customers who are enthusiastic about a product or service; it is not for everybody.  If your product or service doesn’t have a strong brand or emotional connection, energizing may not work for you.  For example, it may be difficult to get people to be enthusiastic about copy paper or post-it notes.
  2. Check the social technographic profile of your customers – you need to know how your customers are participating in the groundswell.  For example, refer back to the social technographic profile for Westjet.  The majority of their target market is spectators (54%).  This means that people are listening; they are observing and listening to Westjet’s website, so why not use creators and critics to energize through word of mouth!
  3. Ask yourself what your customer’s problem is – remember that communities don’t form around your products.  For example, at Westjet when a customer has a problem it may be about travel rules rather than the actual service they received.
  4. Pick a strategy that fits your customers’ social technographics profile and problems – ratings and reviews work well for some companies, especially if their customers are critics.
  5. Don’t start unless you can stick around for the long haul – like a marriage, a community requires constant adjustments in order to grow and become more rewarding.  If you are not in it for the long haul, perhaps think about ugly marriages that have ended because of the lack of long-term effort.

When you energize the groundswell you will realize that your customers expect you to listen!  They want a response and they want you to give them what they desire most: information about the company’s present and future products, as well as evidence that they are making a difference.

In summary, in order to energize the groundswell you need to pick out your most committed and enthusiastic customers.  These customers act as leaders, providing valuable word of mouth.

We did an interesting activity in our social media marketing class the other day.  We were able to extract information from Facebook in order to find the common link in our networks.  Look at the image below; you will see clusters of groups.  For privacy reasons, I removed the names from the circles.  The green circles on the left, however, are my mom and my sister.  They connect a large number of family members in the network, therefore I would look to energize them in order to promote my product or service.  Knowing who to energize can be difficult, however the benefits are extremely rewarding!

Facebook Data

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TWITTERPATED!!!

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How many of you have a Twitter account?  I know I didn’t up until a few months ago and now I am addicted!  With homework, working out, plus friends and family time, I find it difficult to find time to watch the news and keep current.  Twitter enables me to keep current on the go – on my mobile Twitter App!  I follow certain Twitter accounts such as CTV News or the Edmonton Journal and their tweets keep me informed about current events!  I am able to stay in the loop!

Signing up for Twitter is so easy; it is free and simple, and it allows you to follow people immediately and tweet updates quickly.  Companies are taking advantage of Twitter by listening and interacting with their customers.  Twitter can spread brand messages far more effectively than television can, and can do so at a much lesser cost.

Tweeters are among some of the most influential people out there.  The social technographic profile of tweeters include highly active users: joiners, creators, critics, conversationalists, spectators, and critics.  The demographics of tweeters are 64% male with an average age of 32 and an average household income of $91,000.  52% have a college degree and 72% often tell friends about products that interest them (WOW! Talk about word of mouth)!  If you think it is only the young people who are tweeting, guess again!

As a company, before you embrace Twitter you should ask yourself what your groundswell objective is, as I mentioned before in POST: listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and/or embracing.  With Twitter, you can have more than one objective.

  1. Listening: with Twitter, listening is essential.  You need to listen to know what you are getting into; watch for trends!
  2. Talking:  it is easy but don’t be boring!  Tweet things that you believe might be picked up and followed by others.  Make sure you respond to others as well!
  3. Energizing:  listen first and find the people you want to energize (those who like your products).  Respond to fans and re-tweet them, plus give them content to re-tweet to their followers.  For a great example of this, check out @Zappos_Service!
  4. Supporting:  respond to questions and complaints; listen to unhappy customers and reach out to them!
  5. Embracing:  this is more difficult when there is a limit of 140 characters per tweet, however you can use Twitter to drive people to surveys and links, plus provide incentives such as contests and draws. The best way to embrace, however, is to simply enter into a dialogue with followers.

Once you determine your objective(s), here are some tips for successful tweeting:

  1. Lock up your handle – tweet from your handle and don’t let someone else get it!
  2. Listen first – know what people are tweeting about before you post!
  3. Be ready to support people – people want responses!
  4. Follow others – people love when you pay attention to them!
  5. Be ready for a crisis – people will look to your Twitter account for a response!
  6. Respond, re-tweet, and link – and add a little personality!
  7. Staff it – make it part of someone’s job description!
  8. Check with legal and regulatory staff – it is public speech so be careful!
  9. Don’t waste a following – once you have it, keep it going and be creative!

Many companies are using Twitter now and are having a lot of success with their customers.  It is a cost-effective way to meet the needs of consumers and send them messages as well as support them.

Have a look at my Twitter account https://twitter.com/HollyMGoodman and follow me!  Creating an account is so easy to do!

Source: Groundswell

Helping the Groundswell Support Itself!

Have any of you ever heard of CarePages?

I had a friend once whose little boy was dying of cancer.  There is enough to deal with when you have a sick family member, let alone all the calls that you receive from friends and family offering support and asking for updates.  It can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed more than you already are.  My friend became a member of CarePages, where she was able to post updates regarding her little guy and other people were able to respond and offer their love and support.  People supporting people; this is an example of the groundswell supporting itself.  Supporting the groundswell is one of the objectives of my previous POST blog.

Supporting customers can be a real burden; usually if you receive a call from a customer after a purchase, it means something is wrong with the product.  These calls can be very expensive and time consuming!  In today’s world you will most likely notice that company’s are encouraging customers to go online for support.  Many companies have answering services when you call their telephone line, indicating that you can find support on their websites.  The other day, for example, I needed to talk to Shaw regarding a movie refund for a movie that didn’t record properly.  I called their phone line, where I waited on hold for 20 minutes.  While I waited, I was able to go to the website and start an online chat with a customer service representative, who was able to assist me.  I hung up the phone before getting through to a telephone customer service representative.

The reason for the push towards online support has a great deal to do with cost.  Many companies have moved their call centres overseas, where it is 40% less expensive to compensate the call centre employees!  Have you ever had this experience, however, and become very frustrated with the language barrier on the other end of the line?

This is where the groundswell comes into play once again in a big way.  Who are you more willing to trust: the company you purchased a product from or other customers who have similar products that are able to support your queries?  Customers trust other customers more, and they are willing to spend time helping each other.  

Have you ever joined a forum?  Forums are a great way for customers to share information and opinions.  They are also a great place to get help.  If you have a problem with your printer, how convenient is it to go online and be able to ask a question and get an immediate response?  Perhaps the question has even been asked before and the answer is available to you without even having to ask!  Forums also have a tremendous cost savings, as illustrated in the following ROI analysis:

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Wikis are also an option to reassure clients.  Think about Wikipedia for a moment.  Imagine if you can build something like that for your own customers?!  Well you can.  The benefits of wikis include client support, enabling clients to feel like they are solving problems together!  You must determine, however if a wiki is right for you!  Are your customers ready to share in a common collection of information?  Wikis are more difficult than forums are to get going, so you must make sure your customers are ready for it!

The cost benefits of groundswell supporting technology such as forums and wikis is immense.  People post questions and other people answer them – genius!  However, the groundswell needs your participation as well!  If you decide to move forward with building a supporting community, here are some suggestions:

  1. Start small, but plan for a larger presence – for example, start with only one product line but plan to include all of them down the road!
  2. Reach out to your most active customers – find your enthusiasts and ask them how they’d prefer to participate!
  3. Plan to drive traffic to your community – advertise and don’t forget search engines!
  4. Build in a reputation system – encourage users to participate and behave in the right manner!
  5. Let your customers lead you – listen to your customers’ opinions!  They will tell you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong!

People expect you to listen and respond to them so make sure you do so!  Embrace the dialogue and collaborate with your customers!

Westjet has a FlyerTalk forum, where customers communicate with one another and ask each other questions.  Westjet can look at the forum and observe what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong.  They can then join in, supporting their customers and learning from them in order to improve their business.  They also have a Wikipost, where they are able to share information with their customers in an efficient manner.  Westjet is doing it right!

Speak Out!!

Funnel

We have talked about using the groundswell to listen to your customers, but what about speaking to them?

The marketing funnel above illustrates that consumers are driven into the large end of the funnel through activities that raise awareness; advertising for example.  Consumers proceed through the stages of consideration, preference, action, and loyalty to become buyers.  The problem, however, is that marketers have little control over what happens in the middle of the funnel between awareness and purchasing; this middle piece of the funnel is where the groundswell influence is the heaviest.  Once awareness has been raised, people learn from each other through word of mouth.  Let’s face it; consumers trust friends, acquaintances and even STRANGERS more than they trust marketers.  When purchasing a new vehicle, for example, would you trust the salesperson at the dealership or the reviews of customers just like yourself who have provided reviews and/or feedback about the vehicle?

There are many techniques that can be used to talk with the groundswell: post a viral video (YouTube for example) and let people share it, engage in social networks, join the blogosphere, and/or create a community to engage and deliver to customers.  Here are some great examples:

  • Blendtec created a YouTube video titled “Will It Blend,” where items such as iPhones are placed in a blender and chopped into pieces!!
  • Ernst & Young realized potential employees belonged to Facebook, therefore they used social networking to reach out and talk to these potential candidates and answer their questions individually
  • HP speaks to their customers through blogging; they are honest and direct, instilling trust in their customers
  • Proctor & Gamble created a community called beinggirl.com to provide teenage girls with a place to connect to each other and share embarrassing experiences; meanwhile they are marketing feminine care products to a target market that is normally not open to talking about such issues

Marketers are used to shouting to customers and listening to them to find out their needs, however the conversation in the middle of the funnel is what needs to be addressed.  Marketers MUST become involved in the consideration process: people, comments and feedback.  Constant involvement and responding to customers is key!

Stimulate conversation, sit back and listen!  The insight gained from conversing with your customers will provide invaluable information!

Blogging Tips for Success:

Start with people and objectives, as noted in my POST blog; know who to reach and how to reach them.  Here are some suggestions for beginning the dialogue:

  1. Start by listening – listen first and then determine how to join the conversation
  2. Determine a goal for the blog – what are you trying to accomplish?
  3. Estimate ROI – how will your blog pay off and what will it cost?
  4. Develop a plan – who will blog?  How many blogs will you have?
  5. Rehearse – practice before you go live!
  6. Develop an editorial process – who, if anyone, needs to review your posts?  ie your boss?
  7. Design the blog and its connection to the company site – how central will it be to the company’s image?
  8. Develop a marketing plan so people can find the blog – press release? trade magazines? emails to customers?
  9. Remember, blogging is more than writing – respond to what is out there and respond to comments!
  10. Final advice: BE HONEST!  People want genuine statements of a person’s opinion

For more information, please see Groundswell chapter 6 and learn about how you can talk to your customers and become part of the middle of the tunnel!