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

ARE YOU LISTENING PEOPLE?!

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Ok ok I have to admit – I am not the listener that I could be. Let’s face it, some of us are definitely more interested in trying to make other people laugh than we are in listening to them.

Is that selfish? Possibly. Is it dumb? Definitely!

Listening is the key to so many things. It is the key to long-lasting friendships and relationships; it is the key to being a good business person; and is definitely key when it comes to your customers.

Imagine this: you have just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and you have 6 months to live. Most likely you will listen to your doctor when he/she tells you where to go for treatment in order to try to prolong your life, or get rid of the cancer. You also want to go to the most reputable place (the Cross Cancer Institute here in Edmonton for example). What would you think if you had an appointment at the cancer treatment centre and it meant waiting for two hours in the waiting room to get in? Do the doctors not realize that your time is much more precious than theirs under these circumstances? If they listened to their patients they would understand that time is just as precious as medical research and a reputable image.

So how can we really find out what people want? In the past, we have conducted market research and we have paid huge dollar amounts to do so. Market research is great at finding answers to questions, however it is not so good at generating insights. For example, surveys can get customers to tell you the answers to questions that you think to ask them, but what about the things you never thought to ask? These answers may be very important for your business. Many customers may not participate in surveys, or focus groups, or any kind of market research. So how do we know what they are thinking?

This is where the groundswell comes in. The groundswell allows us to observe hundreds and thousands of customers in their natural habitat. From ratings to blogging to twitter – people are voicing their opinions now more than ever. Try this little exercise: Google your product or company name along with the word sucks or awesome, or do a blog search.

Naturally, there is a lot of information to sift through. But alas! There are companies that can help! Begin brand monitoring by hiring a company to listen to the Internet (blogs, Twitter, forums, etc.) and they will provide you with reports and summaries based on their results.

Your brand is not what YOU say it is. It is what your CUSTOMERS say it is. Therefore, you had better be listening to them to find out what they think your brand is about. Listen to the groundswell!

Source: Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies