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  • Sam Decker

5 Tips to Market WITH Your Customers


"Customers are exposed to anywhere from 247 to 3000 commercial messages each day," says Sam Decker, vice president of marketing and products for Bazaarvoice. "The growing attention on word of mouth, authenticity, transparency, and social networking is in reaction to customer cynicism, distrust, sensory overload and lack of time." To market with — rather than to — consumers, Sam shares these five tips:

Tip #1. Do the waggle dance

In the book "The Wisdom of the Hive" by Thomas Seely (and paraphrased in James Surowiecki’s "Wisdom of Crowds"), the author describes how bees find nectar. Since they don’t know where different flower patches are located, bees don’t consider all alternatives first and then determine an ideal foraging pattern. Instead, a hive sends out scouts and trusts that one of them will find the best patch, return, and do a good "waggle dance" so the hive will know where the good food is. Consumers, too, follow the waggle that will most likely lead to finding what they want. Learn to waggle.

Tip #2. Go upstream in the company With a nod to Seth Godin, this means creating great "Purple Cow" products and services. Great products with real value are like a field of flowers: mavens and connectors find these products and waggle others to them.

Tip #3. Foster authentic, direct dialogue with customers Customers will follow waggles from new sources - blogs, reviews, personal recommendations, etc. The more emotional the subject and the more passionate and authentic the source, the more visible the waggle. These people are part of the hive, directing others to the nectar.

Tip #4. Empower customers to be authorities By connecting customers to each other through forums and councils, and empowering them to be authorities (via customer reviews, for instance), they’re more likely to express and share opinions.

Tip #5. Commercial messages have less waggle Commercial messages have led us astray. It’s as if spiders have disguised themselves as scout bees and are waggling the hive to fly towards their webs. "A fundamental issue is to change management culture and perspective from internal waggle to external waggle," says Sam. "Be great, be real, let your flowers bloom, and the waggle will follow."


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