Enabled Champions Mean Business

with 15 Comments

Help me help you...

Speaking in front of small business owners on a couple recent occasions has spotlighted, for me, a pattern of their frustrations with social media. They want to make social media work for their brand but see it as too much work to learn and implement and not enough real results for their bottom line.Whether a startup, freelancer, or brick and mortar shop, the limitations of budgeting, staffing, and the lack of a large brand to build on are universal for many small enterprises.

To them I present the Enabled Champion – A concept that is by no means new, but in today’s online world of speed and access, it can be an especially powerful tool. Many business owners know these lessons already, but do not know how to magnify word of mouth concepts online.

Enabled Champion n.  A customer that willingly markets and spreads word of mouth on behalf of a brand – A brand that is actively providing them opportunities to do so.

When a small business owner picks up a book like Groundswell and sees every other suggestion is to buy into some service that costs thousands of dollars, this Social Media thing can be a bit underwhelming.

Corporate Examples are Daunting

When Pepsi or Best Buy or Burger King does something really cool using Social Media, it is great and all, but sometimes scaling down their successes for small companies can be unrealistic. The important thing to remember is to boil these success stories down to their bare bones. I can usually break down any social media success into one of a few basic concepts:

  • Listen/Respond to the consumer (Building trust)
  • Provide value to the consumer (Invest in them)
  • Give the consumer ownership (Letting them invest in you)
  • Be remarkable (Viral potential)

Multiply Your Voice

The next-to-last bullet point above is where the Enabled Champion really gets down to business. Any business should be looking for opportunities to let their customers market for them. If you are in business, someone, somewhere values your product. Build on that success by making it as easy as possible for them to share that experience and encourage others to partake. A simple “tell your friends” is helpful and nice. And basic word of mouth happens organically. But online, for a small business, you must actively provide opportunities for your customers to pass along your brand. The main difference between the potential for word of mouth online and offline is scale. Within the social web, “telling your friends” can have much larger implications.

Hustle Your Word of Mouth

A few examples:

  • Assign customers titles and give them perks. Call them your ambassadors or champions or any name. Give them discounts or insider info. I had a boss once that whenever I would ask for a raise, he would respond with “Do you want the money, the title, or the experience?” There are a lot of people out there that would be more than willing to help you for those second and third options.
  • Let the consumer create your marketing. Have a contest for written stories about your product or video responses. Ask them to blog for you about how your product or service has helped them or just about your industry.  Get input from customers about what your next product should be. Any of these tasks will make the customer feel less like a consumer and more like a community member, one of the team.
  • Praise your customers. Write blog posts or video blog about your favorite customers. Interview them so they can share their experience first hand. Put them front and center.
  • Use simple, inexpensive online tools to keep the conversation lines open and vibrant. The larger the consumer side of this two way conversation is, the more invested your customers become.  Maintain an email newsletter, blog on a regular schedule, and use social networking filters (groups, tags, etc.) to target and give attention to your inner circle of customers. Or just start your own social network with free tools like Ning, Buddypress, Facebook or Google Groups, etc.

Many business owners know all too well that a return customer and a vocal customer are incredibly valuable commodities. As a small business, learning how best to enable your customers to become champions of your brand is a smart investment.

How are you enabling champions of your business?

Photo Credit

15 Responses

  1. Samantha B.
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    It was great to see you speak last week Jason. I think this is a great continuation of that discussion. I am helping a great friend of mine do this for her business right now. I think her hang up is another common fear, which is loosing control of your marketing. That is tough for a lot of business owners. Perhaps a future blog post on how to convince business owners that letting go can be good?

  2. Andy Blue
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    Shhh… Your giving away secrets (just kidding). Any artist/photographer already knows these lessons well. I sell 90% of my art through existing customers preaching the gospel to other.

  3. CThompson
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    Many of the best ideas are simple.

    It is post like these that get us back on track. It does not have to be hard, but it has to be well thought out.

    Audience: It is essential to know your audience(s). — There is often more than one on many levels. Each will respond to a different message.

    Message: Important to send the right message to the right audience, using the correct delivery tool.

    Response: The call to action needs to be clearly defined or the audience and the messages are moot.

  4. steveg600
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    Excellent posting jason. This is a lesson that mainstream media (and companies) need to focus on.

  5. Special Dee
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    My comment tweeted on Twitter – "Newspaper people: let your fans spread your bylined stories, create community." By this, I mean to say that as news sources change, and readers no longer log on to news sites, but rather to an aggregator of news, we might see readers choosing a news feed based on the byline. Readers who still log on to news sites, perhaps might find a community of like-minded people following their favorite journalist and be able to join in conversations with those people and that journalist.

  6. jakrose
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    Thanks Samantha for the kind words. Getting past the resistance of people to give up their own marketing is a tough challenge. I will take your suggestion and write a blog post on the subject. It is tough to make that leap for many and there is a balance to be reached. Skittles learned that recently.

  7. […] A concept that is by no means new, but in today’s online world of speed and access, it can be an especially powerful tool. Many business owners know these lessons already, but do not know how to magnify word of mouth concepts online. Enabled Champion n.  A customer that willingly markets and spreads word of mouth on behalf of a brand – A brand that is actively providing them opportunities to do so. via jasonkeath.com […]

  8. DTs Flash Drive Blog
    |

    Great points. I think many people suffer from the habit of trying to control everything, not just business folks. It can be a hard lesson to learn to trust the world outside of you and see rewards returned. But lets face it, if you can't trust your customers who can you? Trust has to go both ways and if you can't put faith in the other side then you shouldn't be involved with business in the first place. Personally I dont get it whenever I see a company that doesn't offer or isn't part of an affiliate program.

  9. Martha A. Wade
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    Great article Jason, I admire your honesty and insight into the world. I love this concept about an Enabled Champion! I used to wonder why only my friends and family wanted to buy artwork from my newly formed company. But now that they have been telling THEIR friends, I am getting new commission requests before I can even finish my website and business plan. The power of treating your customers well and of just BEING OF QUALITY can do more than traditional marketing and I LOVE IT! ;)

  10. jakrose
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    I think the idea of the free agent journalist is going to become more important. The rise of the personal brand is very prevailent at the top of the media food chain. But I think we will see even more of it locally as well, not to mention in niche media segments.

    This combined with letting journalists start using more mobile technology to capture and report their own micro media in real time should make for an interesting evolution of the modern journalist.

  11. jakrose
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    It can definitely be a slow process. Building up a passionate audience can take time. Like a garden, with the right planning and nurture, it can grow into its own blossoming, self-sustaining ecosystem.

  12. CThompson
    |

    Many of the best ideas are simple.

    It is post like these that get us back on track. It does not have to be hard, but it has to be well thought out.

    Audience: It is essential to know your audience(s). — There is often more than one on many levels. Each will respond to a different message.

    Message: Important to send the right message to the right audience, using the correct delivery tool.

    Response: The call to action needs to be clearly defined or the audience and the messages are moot.

  13. ERichNWise
    |

    JasonKeath , you are exactly on target
    Market your business by enabled customers through social media
    twitter is changing marketing strategies
    bravo

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