All these years later, I’m still occasionally caught off-guard by how profoundly two-way the medium of the Web can be. I still find it delightful when someone on the corporate side totally gets the “markets as conversations” idea.
In my experience, the gold standard here has to be a thread on Joi Ito’s site in 2002, when a representative of Shure popped unsolicited into an ongoing discussion on their – excellent – e2c earphones to talk audio. His frank responses sold me on the merits of picking up a piece of gear I would otherwise have regarded as entirely too minty for me.
I was so satisfied with the e2c’s that I wound up not merely buying a pair for myself but recommending them to everyone who asked me about them for a good year or two; Shure’s ROI on that one conversation had to be off-the-charts ridiculous. (It’s also true that being carried over that particular price threshold also paved the way for my eventual surrender to the Ultimate Ears ue10 Pros, but that’s another story.)
Point is, when organizations as diverse as Vitsœ, Shure and Mojo Cosmetics pay such close attention to what’s being said on the enthusiast blogs, they reap a double benefit. On the one hand, I’d imagine they get a far better understanding of actual customer wants and needs than any suggested by the intellectually shoddy and ludicrously overpriced “research” most marketing insight firms are only too happy to sell them. And the loyalty thus inspired can be impressive, verging on pathological: so pathetically reduced to a state of learned helplessness are we by contemporary customer-service practices that it makes you want to cry tears of gratitude when you realize that someone’s actually listening on the other end.
If only, say, United Airlines was as responsive. Ahem.