Last Wednesday I held my Think Like a Rockstar blogging class for the Content Marketing Crash Course at Marketing Profs. The course is over, but if you want to view all 17 classes, here’s information on how you can. I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Rockstar analogy this year, covering why rockstars have fans and companies have customers. I’ve done so, because there’s an extremely important lesson for companies in the rockstar analogy:
Rockstars and their fans have the same conversation.
Or at the very least, they have more similar conversations than most companies and their customers have. The disconnect between how the rockstar views its fans and how the fans view its rockstar, is far less pronounced. Which means the conversations that each group is having about the other, is more similar. A big reason why is because most rockstars SEEK engagement with their customers. They not only listen to the conversation that their customers are having, they participate in it.
Contrast this to most companies, who not only lack engagement with their customers, they often FEAR that engagement. As a result, the company is having an internal conversation about the customer with little to no input from or interaction with the customer. And likewise, the customer is having an external conversation about that company, without any involvement and interaction with that company.
Participating in a conversation changes that conversation.
Prior to launching its company blog, Graco discovered that 68% of the online conversation that customers were having about and around the Graco brand, was positive. That’s not bad, but 18 months AFTER launching its company blog, Graco found that the tone of the online conversation its customers were having had shifted to 83% positive. Additionally, the company found that 99% of the additional online mentions that the company gained in the 18 months AFTER launching the blog, were positive. The blog gave Graco a vehicle to directly connect with customers and interact with them. As a result, the online conversation that Graco’s customers were having about the brand, changed.
Interaction breaks down walls.
Likewise, a lack of interaction between the company and the customer strengthens walls and silos conversations. Then you are left with two groups that each are having a conversation with the other group, without actually knowing that group. Which means neither group really understands the other, and as a result, doesn’t trust the other group.
But as interaction between the two groups happens, the conversation the customers are having begins to be understood by the company. And the customers begin to better understand the company’s point of view. Hugh was talking about this five years ago. As the company begins to understand the customers’ point of view and incorporate it into THEIR conversation, that conversation that the company is having becomes more familiar to the customers. Because the company is starting to speak in a language that’s more easily recognizable to them.
Interaction leads to understanding, and understanding leads to trust.
So this interaction is prompting change in both the internal and external conversations. By better understanding the company, the external conversation the customers are having about the company, changes a bit. And likewise, as the company begins to interact with its customers and better understand them, that internal conversation it is having about its customers, changes a bit.
Most importantly, the walls around both conversations weaken a bit. The distance between the two groups shortens. Both conversations become a little bit more familiar to the other group, and as a result, both groups begin to trust the other a little more. Four years ago I wrote this on The Viral Garden:
As we correctly anticipate the consumers’ wants and needs, and fill them, a trust is developed, which leads to the consumer lowering their defenses and letting us interact with them on a deeper level. This leads to a greater understanding of their needs, which means we can more quickly and effectively meet these needs, and thus the cycle is created.
And that cycle creates an incredibly powerful barrier to entry for other companies. It also creates fans and advocates for that company.
Trust leads to advocacy.
At this point, the company has interacted with the customer and become so familiar with their conversation that the walls around each conversation are starting to blur. The voice that the company speaks in becomes more familiar to the customer. Which makes it easier for the customer to trust the company, because they are speaking in a voice they recognize.
And that makes it much easier for customers to advocate on behalf of a company that they believe have their best interests in mind.
Wait, this isn’t about smart social media usage, this is about smart business.
Exactly. Customer conversations are increasingly shifting online and to mobile devices. Customers are finding new tools and technologies every day to help them more effectively and efficiently communicate with each other. And they are getting up to speed on these tools and technologies faster than companies are. But if companies can follow the lead of their customers and become efficient at using these tools and in the same way their customers are, then they’ll win. It’s not about becoming a better marketer, it’s about becoming a better communicator.
Here’s to better communication in 2011.