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!

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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!