Think about this for a minute: a person, for the first time in history, has instant access to communicate to millions of people, at little cost, with the click of a mouse. This digital soapbox (aka social media, networks, technologies) is powerful and has the ability to erode the effectiveness of the most well-planned (and funded) marketing, advertising and public relations efforts.
Think about this for a minute: a company, for the first time in history, has instant access to communicate to one of millions of people, at little cost, in a timely manner, with the click of a mouse. The digital soapbox works both ways. Not only can a negative comment be directly addressed, but millions of others may also witness the response, simultaneously, at no additional cost or effort.
It doesn’t make sense to spend big money to broadcast a marketing, advertising or PR message without spending money on communicating with those using the digital soapbox. If traditional marketing is planting seeds and plants grow better in fertile soil, then the word-of-mouth buzz dictates how fertile the soil is.
Let’s take it a step further. Rather than playing Whack-a-Mole trying to address bad comments found online because of customer service issues, improving customer service reduces the bad buzz and thus makes your marketing, advertising and PR more powerful. Good customer service is fertilizer.
Zappos.com, CEO, Tony Hsieh says they had an advertising budget as they built their company and brand, but did not spend the money on advertising. They spend it on improving customer service. And Tony will assert it was much more effective. Their rapid growth is a testament to that.
I work for an advertising agency and we want our clients to have big ad budgets and make lots of noise about their company, so we have lots of work, but we also want the results to be successful. Afterall, that’s how we’re judged. So as good partners to our clients why don’t we ask them to spend part of their ad budget on things that will improve customer service, reduce bad word-of-mouth, and help improve the success of our creative work. We do ask they respond to those using the digital soapbox for the same reasons and help them to do so, but that’s just part of the equation.
Brand = (Customer Service – Negative Word-of-Mouth) * Marketing, Advertising & PR Effectiveness