When Dave Carroll had his Taylor guitar broken by United Airlines he voiced his displeasure via YouTube where the incident was exposed to millions. Taylor Guitars (not United Airlines) took to this pro-actively by posting a response video. It discussed how they feature the TSA regulation on their website stating it’s OK to carry a guitar on an airplane and that they fix guitars at their factory service center. This video has since received 500,000 views.
Being proactive in dealings with customers, and having the internal culture to permit it, allows retailers to procure new customers, and keep old ones, who have become frustrated with the products they use, and companies that sell them:
Working the Opportunity Economy
Merchants no longer have to wait for customers to come directly to them to give them an opportunity. They can now monitor social networks for mention of themselves, their competitors, and their industry to see what customers are saying and find opportunities.
This allows them to move at the speed of thought: A company member monitoring the situation can see an opportunity and respond immediately. They no longer have to wait to put out a press release or talk to someone in the media to get the word out.
Companies can also create opportunities themselves by delivering content that is interesting and relevant to their target market. Even if the content isn’t directly related to the products they sell, retailers can pull customers into their online presence where the offerings are never far from sight. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all allow for customization of a company’s page, so retailers are never fully hampered in presenting their company’s products or image. They just need to be creative in how they do it.
Internal Practices need to be On-board
Successful use of the opportunity economy depends on corporate culture. Companies need to work internally in real-time and have trust in their employees in order to capitalize on social opportunities. If every action needs approval from the top then they will never be fast enough to take advantage. Somebody else will always beat them to it.
Bottom Line for Local Business
It’s not about selling directly. It’s about providing timely solutions to customer’s individual problems or pulling them in with content. If someone complains about a competing product today, the best time to respond is today when it’s in the forefront of their mind. This approach should be followed in content delivery as well. If complaints about a competitor are trending online, push out authoritative content showing your offerings as a solution.
Check out Jay Baer’s (founder of convinceandconvert.com) thoughts on this topic in a recent interview