Listening to the Groundswell.




In this week’s blog, I would like to share a little tip on how to listen to what people are saying about your brand!

Some marketers spend millions or even hundreds of millions, of dollars on advertising alone. They put a lot of emphasis on making the brand well known, some even say that the brand are theirs. According to Li and Bernoff (2011), this is all bs. “Your brand is whatever your customer say it is. And in the groundswell where they communicate with each other, they decide” (p. 78).

To reiterate, the brand does not belong to the company. It belongs to the consumers. Sounds weird, right? Here is one explanation I found: Guimaraes stated (as cited in Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 79), “The value of the brand belongs to the market, and not to the company. The company in this sense is a tool to create value for the brand… Brand in the sense – it lives outside the company, not in the company.”

To get on with the topic. You are probably wondering on what do I mean by listening.

To some companies, listening means doing a very costly market research. Market research is very good at finding answers to a specific set of questions because it’s very easy to put together a focus group, do a survey, and get some answers. A downside to this is that you only get a specific answer to a very generalize question. eg. “how well is our product selling? You know those types of questions, there is really no insight into it.

“Market research…is just not so effective at generating insights” (p. 79). This is where groundswell comes in. Consumers who are involved in the groundswell are doing all the talking. They are constantly blogging about their experience, they’re discussing on forums, and they’re rating product and services. All you really have to do is listen. Before you start listening, let me give you a little bit of warning.

1. Since only a select handful of people are blogging, do not assume that they represent the majority.

2. There is so much information on the web, and it’s very hard to track which one really gives insights.

Lucky you, who stumbled upon this blog because I would be giving away two strategies on how to solve this problem. Here are they:

  1. Set up a private community – A community allows people to share their experiences about a certain product or service where no other market research could. A community is made up of many consumers; therefore, each one could relate to each other making it easier to share to each other. “A private community is like a continuously running, huge, engaged focus group – a natural integration in a setting where you can listen in” (p. 82).
  2. Begin brand monitoring – Hire a company to listen for you. In this way you’ll save time on looking for internet blogs, twitter, forums, etc…

If you listen very carefully to what consumers are saying about your brand, then, you would be able to have a better idea on what your customer wants and needs. Ultimately, this will lead you to have a competitive advantage among your competitors.

One last tip, listening is good but acting on what you heard is the way to go.

Oh. You think setting up a private community, and hiring a third party company is expensive? Here is an interesting YouTube video I found that shows the cost of not listening:



Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing



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