According to Groundswell, companies spend tons of money on advertising; we are talking millions, or hundreds of millions, of dollars to boost their brand names! For that reason, marketers feel extremely important and tell us they define and manage brands. False, a brand is whatever the customers say it is. One of the most brilliant brand theorists, Ricardo Guimaraes said that “the value of a brand belongs to the market, and not to the company.” In order to figure out what your company is all about. You have to start listening. Listening you mean? Yes, understand how customers communicate, what they say to each other, and learn how they think.
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Listening to the groundswell (population’s opinions /customers) reveals new insights. There are two ways to do this:
- Set up your own private community: this is like a continuously running focus group, which allows for natural interaction between costumers where you can listen in.
- Begin brand monitoring: this means hiring a company to listen to the Internet for you. They will also provide results and summary reports about what is happening on the Internet (Twitter, blogs, etc).
It is imperative to notice that reports are a waste of money, unless you act on what you learned from the results.
Listening is probably the most important neglected skill in business. It is very difficult to do, that is part of the reason. Usually companies conduct market research in order to listen to their customers, however, this is a very narrow form of listening. Internet has made listening much easier and for that companies must start listening to the groundswell, and here are six reasons why:
- Find out what your brand stands for. You know what message you’re trying to get across, but how different is it from what people are talking about?
- Understand how buzz is shifting. If you start to listen you get a guideline, keep on listening buddy and you will understand change. Who is getting all the talk?
- Save research money and increase research responsiveness. Doing surveys once in a while is very expensive, but if your company has a regular research budget you can listen more actively.
- Find the sources of influence in your market. Who is talking about your product? Once you find these influencers, you can cultivate them.
- Manage PR crises. If your company is going to be assaulted, you will hear about it faster and the reaction will be much quicker if you are listening.
- Generate new product and marketing ideas. Customers are continuously using your products and services. They are a great source of ideas and they will offer them to you for FREE.
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Source: Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2011) Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing
MAC Cosmetics utilizes different social media tools in order to listen to its customers. The company uses Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube, which is my favorite!!
MAC Cosmetics uses their YouTube channel to post professional styling videos, tutorials, marketing campaigns, etc. In addition to these videos customers can subscribe to the channel and add response videos to the tutorials utilizing MAC products. This is a great way for the company to learn what customers think of their brand and how they utilize their products. Another great listening tool can be found on MAC Cosmetics’ website, where they have a “Live Chat” option to talk with an online representative Monday to Friday, from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. With this option customers can easily communicate with the company, enquire about anything related to their products and the company can efficiently listen to its customers.
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