Energizing! (It just keeps going and going…)

This blog is a response to chapter 7 of the groundswell textbook called “energizing the groundswell” for my MARK4474 course.

The word energizing always makes me think of the Energizer bunny.

This commercial is almost as old as I am. Scary. But, like the end of the commercial says, “it just keeps going and going”. This is pretty much what energizing is. Energizing is getting people excited and talking, creating word of mouth and starting a chain of people talking about the same thing. Word of mouth just keeps going and going… whether it be one person telling another, who tells another and then another, or multiple people that tell multiple others, or anyone who will listen to them.

Word of mouth is a form of advertising that shouldn’t be underestimated…

  • It’s believable. Testimonials and stories from real people are more credible than media sources, or what the company says itself.
  • It’s self-reinforcing. The more you hear the same thing from different people, the more you know it to be true.
  • It’s self-spreading. If a product is worth using, people will share and spread the word (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 130)

According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Marketing Association (WOMMA), word of mouth “is the most honest form or marketing, building upon people’s natural desire to share their experiences with family, friends and colleagues.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 131)

By connecting with customers, you are energizing the groundswell. You are getting people to talk – mostly your loyal customers. Think of a brand, a brand that you really like. I mean REALLY like. Why do you support them? Is it because you like their products/services? Like mentioned above, people will share and spread the word about something they enjoy and/or are passionate about. Customers can become the best brand ambassadors.

Here are three ways to tap into your brand enthusiasts:

  1. Tap into customers’ enthusiasm with ratings and reviews.
  2. Create a community to energize your customers.
  3. Participate in and energize online communities of your brand enthusiasts (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 134)

I really think that AMA can benefit from the first point – tapping into customers’ enthusiasm with ratings and reviews. Having the ability to rate and review different travel packages, from Disney vacations to Las Vegas deals,  on the AMA website would help the decision making process of visitors. If other customers rate it as a great package/deal, then they are more likely to take the leap and book a vacation. The higher the ratings on anything – the more likely they are to buy it. On the AMARewards portal, members are given the opportunity to rate member rewards offers and comment on them. The only part that the portal is lacking is notifications. When someone replies to another person’s comment – they aren’t notified, and if the person doesn’t check back, they won’t know. This is also a negative as when AMA replies to negative comments, as the member can’t be reached. Contrary to belief, bad comments aren’t totally bad. They do make the website look more believable. If the AMARewards portal was full of positive comments, it would appear too good to be true, or unbelievable.

To wrap up this blog – energizing customers, and creating word of mouth, is an powerful and risky technique and it can be very rewarding. I think if AMA taps into the groundswell and energizes it, they will see more success!

-B.


Bibliography

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

Helping the Groundswell Support Itself

This blog is a response to chapter 8 of the groundswell textbook called “helping the groundswell support itself” for my MARK4474 course.

Customers cost companies money – technical support calls cost money and add up over time. Of course, companies want to reduce their costs, and they can thanks to a combination of the wonderful world of the internet and outsourcing their call centers. I’m sure many people have Googled problems before calling companies to see if they can resolve the problem first.

When I bought my first Dell laptop and had a driver problem, I scoured the internet for a solution. Eventually, I found one! Someone else had posted the same problem I was having and I read every solution that other Dell owners had suggested to try and fix the problem. I fixed it, and never had to call Dell! People commenting on tech forums and Dell’s community support forums saved the day! I was happy that I solved the problem myself, and Dell was happy that I didn’t cost them money by calling them. It was a win-win situation. That’s not to say all problems can be resolved by Googling, but it can reduce the number significantly.

A screenshot of a few topics on the Dell laptop forum.

A screenshot of a few topics on the Dell laptop forum.

Some tactics companies can try and use to reduce the number of calls they get include:

  • Creating a forum where customers can ask questions and get answered by other customers and topic experts
  • Wikis where companies can share a collection of information and customers can edit and keep it active (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 163, 168)

Currently, the Alberta Motor Association has a knowledge base (aka FAQs) on their website. Members can type a question in the search bar and it will pull articles that were made by AMA, answering the customers question. Of course AMA can’t predict every question a customer will ask and write a webpage on it. Also, if members want to find opinions and ask questions to other AMA members before contacting AMA, there really isn’t a place to do so. I think it would be great for AMA to create a forum or community where members could talk to each other and ask questions like, “Has anyone been on the Riviera Cruise Trip? How was it, and what was your experience like?” or “I am looking for car insurance, but am having a hard time choosing what level to go with. Help?”

Having a forum would open it up for members to discuss their experiences with AMA Travel and the trips they’ve taken, and what to prepare for (like tips, etc.). This would help members in their decision making process, so when they talk to a travel agent they take up less time on the phone, or choose to book online because they are confident they have all the information they need. Or, if they have a question about how their membership works, where they can get discounts in their area, they can also find that information in the forum or ask it instead of calling AMA. This helps members that have questions feel more engaged with AMA (although not directly engaged), and will also make members who are answering others questions feel engaged in the community and with AMA.

Some things that AMA (or any company) should consider before creating a community include:

  • Start small, but plan for a larger presence (at AMA this may include just having the forum for one line of business, like travel, and then expanding it for others)
  • Reach out to your most active customers (they have insight on how they want to participate)
  • Plan to drive traffic to your community (advertise it, and use SEO to make sure it’s one of the top searches)
  • Build a reputation (people like feeling rewarded for their participation)
  • Let your customers lead you (listen to customers and users, and adapt accordingly) (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 174 – 176)

Of course, AMA can also have a presence on the forums and step in when needed, like if a question can’t be answered by a member. I believe that having a forum where members could talk and ask questions would be very beneficial. In a forum, AMA can both listen and participate, and act based on insights they’ve learned from the conversations that are happening.  🙂

-B.


Bibliography

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.