Throughout the first few chapters of the textbook of groundswell, specifically chapter 3: the social technographics profile, the authors highlight the importance of not only having business goals in place, but also having effective measurements to track those goals. So with the assumption that the company or organization has successfully been able to accomplish this, the authors then move forward to the next aspect of conquering the groundswell.
In chapter 5: listening to the groundswell, as the title suggests, the focus shifts to the importance of listening. Essentially, in order to act upon feedback given from the groundswell, one must listen first. However, simply listening will not be an effective way of progressing if one does not act on what has been heard. “To profit from listening, you need a plan to act on what you learn.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 82). Often companies get so consumed with trying to stay ahead of their competitors that they forget that it is not the competitors that they need to beat, it is the customers that they need to win over. Essentially one can argue that these two feats go hand-in-hand; if you beat the competitors you win the customers. Though this may be true the key part of this is where the focus is for the company. For example, when it comes to beating a competitor the focus is simply to outperform them. To do what they do, but to do it better. However when the attention shifts from beating the competitors to instead winning over the customers the focus finally becomes about the single biggest factor in business: the customers. There is so much that a company can learn from their customers, they simply just have to be willing to first listen and then act on it. There are two case studies provided in the text which help to illustrate how a company can greatly profit from implementing an effective listening strategy. I am going to focus on the national comprehensive cancer network case study and look at how they developed their listening strategy. Ellen Sonet, VP of marketing for New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, has found that the best way to reach her customers is to think as a customer. She realizes that she cannot give her customers what they want if she does not know what they are looking for. Ellen quickly realized that as a marketer in the hospital world there was only so much that she could observe from her customers and what they were looking for. The turning point for Ellen occurred at a marketing event where she met Diane Hessan, the CEO of Communispace and quickly realized their potential for a partnership. (Li & Bernoff, 2011) The service that Communispace provides can be described as the recruitment of a few hundred people in the client’s target market to create a unique type of online social network community best described as a research network. The group essentially forms an exclusive network that provides insight for the client generated from the members and the moderators from the Communispace. (Li & Bernoff, 2011) By being able to receive input directly from the target market regarding various aspects of the company such as strengths and weaknesses it provides the company with the ability to see the company through the eyes of the customer. All and all, the biggest take away that this case study has provided us with is the importance of not simply being one step ahead of the competition but by being one step closer to the customers.
By being able to take this understanding and bringing it to the forefront of my organization I would be able to lead the way in the marketing aspect of not only attracting more customers but retaining them as well. As the text highlights, seeking an effective listening strategy through the means of a private community can be costly however it is important to realize there are other ways to attain an effective strategy when resources are limited. There are four effective suggestions that the authors provide that I can incorporate into my own work industry to help me be more successful in listening to the groundswell and they are: 1) Check the Social Technographics Profile of your customers; 2) Start small, think big; 3) Make sure your listening vendor has dedicated an experienced team to your effort 4) Choose a senior person to interpret the information and integrate it with other sources. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pp. 95-96). In other words, do not let all the effort go to waste. ACT ON IT! Being able to bring this mindset to my organization would be valuable not only for us but for our customers as well.
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press .