I've been thinking about control. The control that a company has over its marketing. Many companies are nervous, or downright scared, about sharing that control with customers. That fear comes from entering into an area where we've never been before.
But at what point does a customer feel empowered enough to become an evangelist for a company? At what point does the enthusiasm grow until a customer feels compelled to tell others of their love for a company, its products, and its processes?
Understandably, many companies believe that they are better served to market their products and services than their customers, simply because they believe they better understand their offerings. And there's often some truth to that. But evangelists, evangelists know the customers.
Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba give several reasons why evangelists are the ultimate salespeople in their book Creating Customer Evangelists, including:
- They know your target audience better than you do because they are the target audience.
- They can search out and find others just like themselves faster and easier than you can.
- They translate your value proposition into words the prospects will understand.
But the loss of control kills the customer's enthusiasm for the product and the brand. Which leads to less efficient marketing, as companies have to spend more and more to reach customers that they don't understand as well as their evangelists do/could.
The challenge for companies is to reach that point where they are sharing, and then shifting marketing control, to their community. When that tipping point is reached, evangelism can begin to grow and spread.
Not sure that many companies are aware that evangelism is the pot of gold awaiting them at the end of the control rainbow.
The Viral Garden, Marketing, Customer Evangelism