If you've been listening to my podcast stream, then you're probably familiar with Jim Blasingame, the Small Business Advocate with whom I chat every so often about marketing (of course) and other small business topics that come up in our informal and (I hope) entertaining conversations.
Well, Jim just published a new book that I want to tell you about … The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.
In it, he share some especially interesting ideas about most creative professionals' favorite marketing tool — word of mouth — and how it is affected by this seismic shift he's written about.
In this video, he explains the main ideas of the book.
And here's an excerpt on Word of Mouth:
In the Age of the Seller, the distribution of customer experiences was primarily a function of the word-of-mouth phenomenon, which historically was incidental and had a marginal impact on how a Seller conducted business. There’s an old marketplace maxim that goes: “If a customer likes you, they will tell someone, but if they don’t like you, they will tell 10 people.
The impact of this word-of-mouth ratio on how Sellers behaved diminished as a business grew larger. Practically speaking, a Main Street small business with a smaller customer base was more negatively impacted by the 1:10 ratio than was a major corporation, which likely possessed an intimidating brand supported by a significant marketing budget.
In the new Age, the influence of the customer experience has expanded and morphed from traditional word of mouth into the dynamic and very compelling phenomenon, UGC. Essentially online word of mouth, UGC is the posting on digital platforms of experiences, attitudes, questions, praise, or condemnation of a Seller’s products and services. As one of the key markers of Web 2.0, UGC has several variations. But for our purposes, I’m going to use UGC throughout this book as a handy term to refer to any digital commenting about a Seller by someone who’s outside, like a Customer.
Traditional word of mouth is not going away. But UGC is word of mouth on steroids; it is, and will continue to be, a very powerful force in the new Age. The same technological innovations and applications that are making it easier for Sellers to publish content and brand messages has also produced the tools and platforms that allow Customers to write, record, video, and then publish and distribute their experiences with a Seller, plus a general opinion of a Seller’s behavior in the marketplace.
Today, the word-of-mouth maxim sounds more like this:
Whether Customers like you or not, they
have the ability to potentially tell millions.
The incidence and consequence of commenting by Customers from word of mouth to UGC is, as Mark Twain said, like the difference between a lightning bug and lightning. Consequently, in the Age of the Customer, there is no place for a Seller—or their behavior—to hide.