Energizing the Groundswell

It is safe to say that no matter what area of business you are directly or indirectly engaged with you are aware of how powerful  “word of mouth” is. It is a huge driving force when it comes to generating sales and revenue for small and large businesses alike. Within the groundswell the word of mouth strategy is essentially the ability to energize your customers and motivate them to share their reviews about your services or products with other potential customers. It is such an important part of a successful business that the main focus of chapter 7 of the textbook groundswell is all about energizing the groundswell. “…word of mouth is a powerful amplifier of brand marketing, achieving results no media campaign can achieve.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 130) There are three points that the authors Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff point out about what makes word of mouth so successful which simply put is the fact that word of mouth is believable, its self-reinforcing and it’s self-spreading. (Li & Bernoff, 2011) A great example of a business that has been successful with energizing their customers is eBags. His approach to energizing his customers is to keep them satisfied. He does this by creating a space where customers can openly share reviews about the products which they have purchased; this is a great way for the SVP of marketing for eBags, Peter Cobb to listen to what they have to say. Of course he loves to read the positive reviews that customers have to share but it is actually through the negative reviews that Peter learns the most. By listening to what the customer is unsatisfied about, he can then act on it and bring upon change if necessary. It is quite evident that customers appreciate this level of effort from the company because it means that their opinion matters. Of course it may seem impossible to act on every single negative review but if Peter is able to see the trends of a particular problem and find a solution he has most likely just changed an unsatisfied customer to an energized customer. This was the case of a manufacturing problem that occurred with the design of one of the eBag brands called the International Traveler. By being an active member in the groundswell and listening to what customers were unpleased about in their reviews Peter was able to go directly to the manufacturer and fix the problem, essentially turning out to be a hero for the customers who were unpleased with the product. (Li & Bernoff, 2011) When customers see that a company is willing to go through this type of distance to listen to them it energizes them, they become willing to share these types of experiences with others and this is where the effort Peter made greatly pays off.

As Li and Bernoff pointed out throughout this chapter, energizing is much more powerful and riskier than then the listening and talking techniques. Before you embark on this new technique of energizing make sure that you are ready. Often companies feel confident with their ability to deal with their customer’s problems but in reality they do not know enough about their customers in the first place. “If you want to energize your customers, you must prepare for a new way of thinking.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 148) Below is a list of five steps which must be taken before implementing this new energizing technique to your company.

  1. Figure out if you want to energize the groundswell
  2. Check the social technographics profile of your customers
  3. Ask yourself, “what is my customer’s problem”
  4. Pick a strategy that fits your customers’ social technographics profile and problems
  5. Don’t start unless you can stick around for the long haul (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pp. 148-149)

Following these five steps will help to ensure that energizing the groundswell is the right fit for your company. Although energizing customers has proved to be very successful companies this is not the case for all. Think it through and be willing to put in the work because most often than not you will find if done correctly, energizing the groundswell may pay huge dividends for you and your company.


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press .