Keynote – Josh Bernoff, Forrester

  • He’s terrified of crowds – That ties closely into most company’s
    fears of dealing with consumer power as opposed to traditional models.
  • You can turn a groudswell, even a negative one, to your advantage.
  • Objectives, not technology, should drive strategy – too many people get that backwards.
  • Tapping into the groundswell enables consumers to talk to each other instead of just consuming marketing
  • Five objectives: 1) Research = Listening, 2) Marketing = Talking,
    3) Sales = Energizing, 4) Support = Supporting, 5) Development =
  • LISTENING – Allows people to not only talk to each other but also
    to experts. It also allows experts to find out who they need to be
    talking to in order to cement their reputation within the community. It
    also can involve just straight brand monitoring, which allows you to
    see what the discussion is and figure out who to respond to and how.
  • TALKING – Giving the consumer something – the example is given of
    MySpace skins/widgets – increases usage and has a trickle-down effect
    on sales and subsequent buzz. Blogs are another outlet for
    disseminating the corporate message.
  • ENERGIZING – Involving the consumer in the product design,
    marketing and other strategy thinking turns ordinary customers into
    evangelists who are passionate.
  • SUPPORTING – Support doesn’t have to come from the company itself
    – it can come from people who enjoy being helpful and who are excited
    about your brand.
  • EMBRACING – has a feature that allows for customer
    suggestions, which can then be voted on by the rest of the online
    community. A good number of those suggestions for new features have
    been implemented in subsequent releases.
  • ROI of executive blog: $285K in costs for $353K in value. Interesting numbers. Most of that is time, but
  • ROI of support forum: $700K in costs for $1M in value (assuming
    some people switch to forum from call-based support, reducing operating

The thing that is lurking at the back of Josh’s presentation, and
something I’ve talked about quite a bit here and there, is that
customers become involved and passionate when they feel like they now
have a stake in the success of a product or service they are a fan of.
Whether it’s movies, laptop bags or anything else that might be sold,
there are people who feel like they want to help something they’re
excited about become successful.

Take John Campea of The Movie Blog
for example. He was so incredibly excited about the big screen
adaptation of Transformers. He wanted it to be a great movie and he
wanted it to be successful. So it was absolutely essential that
Paramount embrace him by talking to him and listening to what he was
saying. He became, because of that two-way conversation between himself
and the studio, an advocate for the brand and a stake-holder in its

Was the movie a hit because of this dialogue? The actual impact is hard
to measure from the outside but it certainly didn’t hurt. People trust
John and are influenced by what he writes. So there are likely a ton of
people who were energized by his enthusiasm.

But, as Josh is reiterating, it’s not enough to just say "well we need
to generate buzz." It needs to have an objective. And, I think, having
an objective means deciding how to establish long-term relationships.
These can’t be hit-and-run efforts.

Getting involved can take any form, but a good place to start is to
just dive in and try things to see what feels right. Whether it’s
commenting on a post, emailing a blogger to say hello or editing a
Wikipedia entry, give something – anything – a try. There are going to
be things you try and which don’t work out, but you’ll never know what
works until you know what doesn’t.