Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Empowering Your Community

Part 5 in the 'Marketing With Your Community' series.

I'm reading, and enjoying, the book Life After the 30-Second Spot, by Joseph Jaffe(I'll be posting a review of it here in a few days). A few weeks ago, I had an email exchange with Jaffe, and I told him that one of my fellow writers at BMA, had just finished Life After...and would be reviewing it soon for BMA.

Jaffe then asked me if I had a copy of the book, I told him I didn't, and a week or so later, an autographed copy of Life After the 30-Second Spot was in my mailbox. A few emails were exchanged, and as a result, Jaffe gave me the tool I needed to be an empowered marketer for Life After the 30-Second Spot.

This is the new marketing reality: The days of marketing TO your community are over. Your only choice now is to embrace the community as your marketing partner and market WITH them.

I've already talked about the need to join your community as a marketer. Joining your community means that you can communicate with them, which means that you begin to understand them, and perhaps more importantly, they begin to understand you.

But there's another marketing reality in 2006: Communities are leaky.

The Cluetrain Manifesto talks about how centuries ago, craftsmen such as blacksmiths would talk to their customers face to face. The blacksmith was also the marketer, and he spoke in the language of his craft.

But in today's hyper-connected reality, there are 20 'blacksmiths' for every town. All producing very similar products at very similar prices. So many times, a simple endorsement from a fellow member of your community is all it takes to sway your business toward a particular 'blacksmith'.

With so many options and choices available, today's customer will often join and leave communities with the shifting of the breeze. If one product isn't meeting your wants and needs, dump them and go with one of their 20 direct competitors. If the next offering still doesn't satisfy you, keep looking till you find what you need. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But in practically every community, there are a few customers that are almost as passionate about your product and company as you are. These customer evangelists are anchors in their community. While many customers will enter and leave their community, the evangelists stay. And not only will they stay, they will encourage other community members to stay as well. While communities are indeed leaky, evangelists are a stablizing force that can solidify a group as a place where satisfied customers of a product/brand meet, and grow.

Given this knowledge, why wouldn't you do everything you could empower these customer evangelists to market for you, in their communities?

Recall my idea of '100 CDs for 100 bloggers'. This is a classic example of empowering your evangelists to market for you. Take 100 fans of a band or artist, that are also bloggers, and give them a copy of the artist/band's new CD, and let them promote the CD on their blog. That's it. These are people that WANT to tell others about your music, but need better TOOLS. Give them the tools they need, and let them do their thing.

Will they speak in the exact language that you want them to use? No they probably won't, but they WILL speak in the exact language that the COMMUNITY wants to hear. That's the key. Customer evangelists are people that want to sing your praises, all they need is a microphone.


Anonymous said...

Great book!

I saw Joseph about a year ago at "Battle For The Heart" and got a free copy of the book. only regret was not getting it signed. :)

Back then, people were calling Joseph names (probably out of fear)—and only a year later, he's one of the most respected names covering the next generation "marketing" movement.

Time flies when your having fun—especially in the blogosphere.

Chris Thilk said...

That's a fantastic story. Jaffe's "Using new marketing to prove new marketing" concept is one I think has very strong potential and it's because of stories like this.

Mack Collier said...

So far it's a great book, and True at BMA was totally blown away by Life After....so I'm sure it will close out as strongly as it's started for me.

And Joe has a great sense of humor, it showed up in his emails, and definitely comes across in the book.

Unknown said...

"Give them the tools they need, and let them do their thing."

Right on. Once it gets out in the world, the brand takes on a life of its own. You can document it and learn how your customer evangelists are interacting with it and building a community around it, but you no longer own it fully. Your customers do.

I've recently started listening to Joe Jaffe's podcast and must get to work on the book soon.

J.D. said...

Mack, there is absolutely no reason for me to do this professionally, but I want to read this book now. Are there subliminal messages in your blogger template? Geez, your blogs are my crack.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Mack. What's interesting is that Jaffe made you his evangelist via his accessibility, in addition to the book itself. That's a huge piece of embracing a "community," in my mind.

Mack Collier said...

"Once it gets out in the world, the brand takes on a life of its own. You can document it and learn how your customer evangelists are interacting with it and building a community around it, but you no longer own it fully. Your customers do."

Exactly Monica. The reality of losing total control over their brands is something that companies are struggling with right now. The companies that are embracing their communities as marketing partners are the ones that are and will reap the rewards.

BTW I'm leaning toward reading Purple Cow next, anyone read it yet?

Mack Collier said...

BTW JD, you don't need a marketing background to understand/enjoy the book. Joe tells you what's wrong, why it's wrong, and then gives NUMBERS TO BACK IT UP. I was re-reading The Cluetrain Manifesto this weekend, and it struck me how the Cluetrain was long on theory, and short on actual real-world examples to back up their thought processes. Sure a lot of what they said SOUNDED good, but Joe goes the step further to actually quantify his opinions.