Raving fans of businesses generate disproportionately high profits so entrepreneurs in the 21st century ignore social media at their peril, warns Robert Craven.
- Mere products (commodities) command neither love nor respect
- Fads attract love, but without respect this love is just a passing infatuation
- Brands attract respect, even lasting respect, but without love
- Lovemarks, explains Roberts, command both respect and love. This is achieved through the trinity of mystery, sensuality and intimacy
- Find out what people are saying about you; Google Search, Twitter, Technorati, Diggit, FaceBook (to name a few) enable you to track the 'word on the street' both about you and about your competitors.
- Create a more compelling offer that focuses on the value that you add.
- Respect your customer. After all they pay the bills.
- Get into the discussion. Be honest and authentic (even if I hate the word!). Be there to discuss, share and understand the customer's point of view.
In some senses it is the same as it ever was. You must listen to your customer, be different from the rest etc., etc.
- Customers will always talk. You can't stop them. But now they are able to do it more than ever.
- You will be seen to be a dinosaur business; out of touch, old world and potentially dead in the water.
- Progressively your web-savvy competitors will have their ear closer to the ground, will be closer to the customers and, as a consequence, will be giving the customers exactly what they want.
- Corporate blog: You can dissipate antagonistic customers by giving them the platform to share their angst.
- Insider Twitter account: Quite fashionable at the moment as long as they are genuine and not an attempt to fix the result.
- Track what is being said about you: Start the conversation with the complainants.
- Sort the social media: By definition you cannot control the social media but you can encourage the conversation explicitly (set up a FaceBook page) or implicitly use (or pay!) ambassadors to spread the word.
- Do not try to fix the result by interfering: Sony will wish they had never tried to fix the Rage Against the Machine v X Factor scenario, a so-called FaceBook campaign under-written by Sony! Their intentions were dishonest and they were caught. They deserved the backlash.
Telling the customer what they need is for the dinosaurs. Interruption Marketing is Dead. Start talking; and fast!
Robert Craven is a keynote speaker and author of the best-selling business books 'Kick-Start Your Business' and 'Customer Is King'. As managing director of The Directors’ Centre, the consultancy for growing businesses, he works with ambitious directors to break through constraints on business growth.