Traditionally, companies use expensive television ads, or even go as far as Super Bowl ads to connect with their customers. We learned that Dove spent $2.5 million for a 30 second ad at the Super Bowl in 2006 (Li & Bernoff, 2011). Or Unilever, who spent $2.1 billion in the US on marketing in 2006, with 40% being primarily on TV, print, and the web (Li & Bernoff, 2011). We see companies spend millions of dollars each year for advertisements to connect with customers, yet there are so many free tools available to us with a much more personal touch.
In Groundswell chapter 11, we read about Dell, who successfully started blogging as a way to keep in contact with their customers, give advice, and resolve situations that occurred with their customer service or products. Dell first used the technique of listening, which is explained in chapter 5 of Groundswell, or in my previous blog. They then went on to talking with their customers, through the use of blogs, whether or not they were directly talking to someone, customers were still listening to what Dell had to say. Other than the cost of labour, Dell didn’t spend millions of dollars on TV advertisements to connect with these customers, just simple blog posts on the internet.
Li and Bernoff (2011, pg. 230), have five steps that companies should do in order to help them succeed with connecting to customers:
- Start small – The transformation will take time.
- Educate your executives – They can use this technology themselves, including blogs and social networking. Show them a technographics profile of the companies customers for a better understanding of who they are dealing with.
- Get the right people to run your strategy – Pick the person who has the most passion with connecting to your customers.
- Get your agency and technology partners in sync – If they don’t understand groundswell, get them to do some research (or find a new agency).
- Plan for the next step and for the long term – you want to know where this is going to take your company.
Restaurants can hop on this trend as well. Like I talked about in my previous blog, “Listening to the Groundswell”, we can use our social media and review sites to stay in contact with our customers. But what about thinking outside the box? Restaurants can get their customers to blog for them. People tag on their Facebook page when they visit a restaurant to show all their friends where they are. Or one of the biggest uses for Instagram, taking pictures of dishes from the restaurant you are at and posting it to your page, usually with a bunch of hashtags. This is advertising and blogging that is done for free, and a way for restaurants to connect with their customer base and see who is visiting their establishment.
Take for example the hashtag #yegfood on Instagram. This hashtag has over 233,000 tags of pictures from various restaurants in Edmonton that people, bloggers, or possibly restaurant staff have used to promote where they are eating or what dishes they ordered; that’s a lot of free marketing! Restaurants can jump in on this and create their own pages, hashtags, pictures, or even reply to other peoples posts to connect with them online. It’s time for restaurants to move into this online world and transform their business into something special, and reach out to a broader range of current and potential customers.
Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. USA: Forrester Research