Who Controls Your Brand?

My last few posts I have been talking about how using social media and communitiy development tools can help companies establish and/or grow their brands. So, I was reading Groundswell, a relatively new book, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. Josh is a Vice President and Principal Analyst with Forrester Research and Charlene was with Forrester when this book was written and released. She has since left the company to pursue other things.

Groundswell talks about how to find out more about what customers are talking about and how to capitalize on the conversations. They use 25 case studies to make their points.

What caught my attention was paragraph titled “your brand is what your customers say it is”  Now a lot of companies and their marketing departments think that they own their brand. Afterall, it’s their business, and their money they are spending talking about their products and business. Makes perfect sense to them that they own and control it.

Well, the team at Groundswell makes a great case that it is your customers and how they talk about you and your company that controls your brand. That being the case, you can use the old techniques of market and customer satisfaction surveys and studies and find out what your customers SAID about you (hint: the data that you get back is probably six months old or more).

Alternatively, you can take the new media approach and open direct and continuous communication channels with your customers and find out what they are SAYING about your company. (bigger hint: the data you back is current and may be hours or days old).

Think about, in the first scenario, you can attempt to fix something that might not even be a problem still or has gone on so long that customer are too frustrated. On the other hand, you can address problems whilte they are still fresh in your customers minds.

OK, this doesn’t mean to react to every issue as it comes up before you completely understand whether something is really a problem and how to best address it.

So, the tools are available, easy to use once someone sets them up for you, and you can get into conversation immediately. By the way, if your customers are talking and your not listening, I wonder who is? Maybe it’s your current or future competition. Now that should be a scary thought!!!

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