So far I have talked about listening, talking, and supporting the groundswell. Today, I will be talking about how to use the groundswell to energize your target market – that is, word of mouth. According to Li and Bernoff (2011), “Energizing the groundswell means tapping into the power of word of mouth by connecting with, and turning on, your most committed customers…” (p. 131).
Word of mouth is a powerful amplifier of brand marketing for three reasons.
- It is believable because testimonials from customers are more credible than media sources.
- It is self-reinforcing because many people are talking about it.
- It is self-spreading. If a product is worth using, its word of mouth generates more word of mouth in a cascade that is literally exponential.
In order to build good reputation and brand recognition, it is very important for a company to energize their target market, and ensure that the consumers are helping the company spread the word. To energize the target market, a company can implement a few techniques.
- Tap into customer’s enthusiasm with ratings and reviews
- Create a community to energize your customers
- Participate in and energize online communities of your brand
It is very important carefully approach the energizing strategy because it is much riskier than the talking and listening strategies that I discussed in my previous blogs. The reason for this is because you are now directly dealing with people who are going to talk about your brand. Dealing directly with costumers creates unique challenges for businesses. In most cases, there could be very little to no control on where conversations are going. Furthermore, Li and Bernoff (2011) recommended five steps for applying energizing techniques.
- Figure out if you want to energize the groundswell. Energizing might not be for everyone. It only works for companies who have enthusiastic customers.If your product is a commodity and does not provide a strong brand, or emotional connection then it might do more damage than good.
- Check the Social Technographics Profile of your customers. It is good to know how your audience is interacting with the groundswell before implementing a strategy. If your audience is not active as Creators, Critics or Joiners, then there is a good chance that your technique would be wasted.
- Ask yourself, “what is my customer’s problem?”. It is very important to know and identify what your customer’s problem is and how you can help resolve it.
- Pick a strategy that fits your customers’ Social Technographics Profile and problems. You must determine which techniques to use based on the online habits of your customers.
- Don’t start unless you can stick around for the long haul. Commitment is very important here. It is almost like a marriage. You must keep the relationship going or you might suffer the backlash.
Follow this simple steps and you will be on your way in using groundswell to energize your target market.
Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing