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Customer Evangelism & Business Value Blogging

Blogs have been labeled next-generation marketing tools by a few because of its use as a powerful vehicle for voice and influence in delivering business level communications of a wide variety. Also, the voice of the customer has been heralding a new era of customer control and evangelism that is weighing heavily on business decisions and influencing business behavior. Consumers are having their say and the businesses that are listening are also winning. Blogs are now a major force at the center of this dynamic relationship between businesses and customers.

One important aspect of this relationship dynamic is ownership and control. The customer influence is far reaching and is having an impact on the business bottom lines. Control of the marketing and control of the message is no longer the domain of the corporate suits or Madison Avenue. The business imperative here is to determine how to handle and react to the ever increasing effects of customer activism and evangelism. This is where your business blog can shine and help your small business or solo enterprise. Next-generation marketing is simply consumer generated marketing. It is word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. It is the open and deliberate evangelization of a business product or service by consumers turned citizen marketers.

Of course customer evangelism is not new, however blogging allows customers to amplify their voices and choices for their favorite providers of products and services. This is a big deal because the speed, reach and influence of blogs has a viral affect. Blogs maintain links that think, and carry thought with talk. No longer static but an highly active and participatory medium, the Internet is more open and community driven than ever before.

A business blog provides you with the means to collaborate and cooperate with your customer community and allows you to control important elements within these viral conversations as they occur among consumers. One of the most important elements you have greatest control and influence over is your “business value”. Your business value is both the real and perceived desirability and quality associated with your brand, business, products or services.

A business blog will allow you to convert your expertise (about your products and services) into an authoritative content value stream which can have a significant social impact among your customers. Your business value then becomes a conversation with your customers that is distributed within a social context and which can position you for a far more cooperative and collaborative relationship with them.

If you think like a community builder and help influence the types of conversations that happen around your products and services you can create a real win-win relationship that is sure to produce positive results. Your cooperation and collaboration can spark passionate customer evangelism. The results for your bottom line may be surprisingly better than expected.

Additional Reading & Resources:

Blogs Will Change Your Business
BlogPulse Conversation Tracker
Church of the Customer: Customer Activism
Consumer Generated Media

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Comments

  1. David says:

    So the question then is, would you read a blog solely about the products that a small group of people (lets say 3) like and dislike? And would you purchase or avoid a product because of their recomendation? Would you trust them to not try to influence you into purchasing items from companies sponsoring their site? Would it be better if they were employees of the company whose products they are writing about, or independant and therefore less knowledgeable maybe about the product?

  2. Hi David,

    Thanks for the feedback. Great questions. :-)

    First and foremost I read blogs about topics and subjects I’m interested in. Sometimes there are topics that products “revolve” around and there products in which “topics” revolve around. Perhaps a play on ideas here but some blogs derive legitimate topics around their products to help generate discussion that leads to higher visibility for that product…or service. Some which are very topic and subject oriented present complimentary product and services that match their content. These products can be home grown or sponsored.

    At the heart of any good discussion is a value exchange of information between two or more mutually interested parties. It isn’t the size of the group that would drive my interest to read a blog. Rather, it is the size of my interest and the value I feel I receive from the source which in this context is a blog.

    Do I purchase or avoid products based on the recommendation of others? Yes and no. Size or numbers may matter here as I would need to feel that I’ve spoken with a “reasonable” sampling of those who have experience with the product or service I’m interested in. While other customer testimonials aren’t the lone deciding factor in my purchase decision, they can be a very signficant factor when an engaging conversation takes place and where reasonable credibility exists.

    The Amazon reviews are an example or the Edmunds.com town hall forums is another non-blog example of customer evangelism at some level. They along with blogs are people talking to people about the products and services they like and dislike. A business blog needs to enter into and or start dialogue while also maintaining customer trust. All of these influences boil down to trust.

    I think it would be reasonable to expect some level of influence from a sponsor but again, it is about the source. If I have confidence in a business whose blog I read and believe integrity exists between them and any sponsored messages they choose to recieve then I will give benefit of the doubt for the possibility that said recommendations (if they are talking about a sponsored product) can be made objectively. Of course I would still do my fact checking regarding the product itself but the recommendation could have a positive influence on my decision initially because of the confidence I have in that business blog. I trust the business blog, I trust there judgement in whose messages they accept and if their is full disclosure than all is well and the decision is up to me in the end anyway.

    Ideally, a business blog isn’t solely about a product or service but more about the context in which the product or service exists. Pheedo is a good example. Therir expertise is RSS Advertising and RSS Marketing. They don’t use their blog as platform to pitch their services directly. They let their expertise do that for them by publishing their case studies, thought leadership and general expertise about a topic I’m interested in but also happens to be a topic that ties directly to their service offering.

    So as I engage them more and more on these topics, I am more familiar with their expertise, I’ve become aware of their services and I like and trust their advice and thinking. I then talk about them to others that I know will benefit from their expertise or service and who share the same interest, I may also link back to them and I also inquirer about how they can help me accomplish things they do for their clients. And so goes the community building and collaboration between business and customer. I evangelize to some degree on their behalf while also engaging them with questions, feedback and readership.

    Regarding employee or independent, you raise an interesting point that I’m sure is the difference in credibility with some people. I’d be more interested in someone who knows a product or service well and can assist me with questions and support when I need but honestly, I’m more interest in the community benefit. That is, what value is the business delivering to me as an interested prospect or current customer? Again, going back to Pheedo example the value is in the information I get and how I think it’s useful to me. What news, information or entertainment do I get from a particular blog? I’m not engaged in a buying decision process at all times so there needs to be something more to build on.

    The business with a community focus will look to use a blog for delivering a stream of information to get conversations going “around” products and services that they deliver. The desired result would be good customer relationships where they matter most for a particular business.

    Regards,

    TL

  3. David says:

    Wow, that’s quite a reply, and exactly the follow-up I was hoping for. Thanks.

  4. No problem!

    TL

  5. Mike says:

    Thomas,

    That’s a helluva post and reply.

    I would not expect someone writing a biz blog to give me any less of a pitch than I would if I went into my fav store and talked to a salesperson.

    I want to know their opinion. If they steer me wrong, I never go back. Same as I treat brick and mortar bloggers, also known as salespeople.

    Will you sometimes get burned ? Sure. Same as in the big world. Finding a great opinion and source of info is a real treasure, no matter if it’s a blog or a mechanic.

    Life’s tough…blog hard !

  6. Hello Mark,

    Thanks for the fantastic feedback. Excellent remarks!

    …blog hard indeed! :-)

    TL

  7. Terrific points you’ve made Thomas! Particularly the one about the true value of your business being the quality/depth of the conversation with your customers. This is where the small business owner has a leg-up on larger corporations — IF they’ll take the initiative to adapt to the demands of the 21st Century marketplace.

    Most large companies are slow to adapt and are resisting the demands of today’s consumer. Big corporations can afford the continuous bleed-off of cash pushing their messages via old-stream marketing. Most can survive until they wake up to the reality of the marketplace in a year or two from now. But small and mid-size business owners can’t afford that luxury.

    Besides, that’s where the huge advantage for small and mid-size business owners lies — in taking action and adapting now! The sooner business owners accept that the consumer is in control, and create a business growth strategy that embraces that fact, the sooner they can establish a leadership position in their chosen niche.

    Thanks for the mention on “Consumer Generated Media” in the resources section.

    John-Paul Micek
    Business Owner’s Blog

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