December 15, 2006
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects: Citizen Marketers
Citizen Marketers: When People are the Message by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba, Kaplan Business, 224 Pages, $25.00 Hardcover, December 2006, ISBN 1419596063 My business philosophy has always been simple: provide great customer service.I sell books, the same product innumerable companies all over the country sell. To differentiate our company, we focus on service--just ask folks around here how I feel about the phone ringing more than two times. It has always been my belief that people treated well will tell others about their experience.Whether you call it word-of-mouth or customer evangelism, I am a big believer. Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba wrote the book on customer evangelism in 2003. This month, their new book, Citizen Marketers, goes a step further.What happens when your customers, those same fans youve been working to engage, start producing commercials that are as good as the ones you are paying to have made?What happens when your employees are gathering in online forums to critique your latest products? The world is changing and marketers are losing control of their message. Here is one story the authors tell of how the relationship is changing between companies and their customers. In Albany NY lives an independent PR consultant who has a passion for the retailer, Target. She (aka Red Cart Romance) started a blog called Slave to Target which chronicles her addiction to the store's products. Red Cart shares both praise and criticism in her writings and this distinctive commentary gained the notice of readers (100,000 visitors per month), the media (Forbes named it "Best Shopping Blog") and Target itself. Red Cart became the talk of the company. The relationship between Red Cart and Target quickly changed, however, from idol/fan to company/sales tool. Or at least Target tried. The blogger started to receive press kits and email from employees about new products. But, Red Cart says, irritated by the attempts to sway her posting, "They don't care what I have to say....They're just a bunch of suits." For a company unprepared to navigate this new world of marketing, losing control of its message can be disasterous. So, let me suggest something to you. Turn on your computer and google your company's name.See what people are saying about you.And when you find those not-so-flattering blog entries (oh yes, they are there if you look hard enough), it might be a strong signal to go buy Citizen Marketers.