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Your Brand is what Your Customers Say It Is

More Insights from The Gravity Summit in NYC

“The key to WOM (word-of-mouth marketing) is NOT to make the brand look good - it’s making someone look good to their social network while they are talking about your brand.” explained Mike Lundgren from VML at last week’s Gravity Summit in New York. “Consumers trust other consumers more than they trust us” and your customers can make your brand look “more hip, socially responsible, smart, caring, in-the-know, funny…” etc.

“Consumers influencing consumers “(word of mouth” marketing) is playing a larger and larger role in brand marketing than ever before. That’s because Social Media makes it possible for companies to “listen-in” on real conversations as people engage with their brands and with each other. Your brand is not what YOU say it is, it’s what YOUR CUSTOMERS say it is. This was a common thread as the speakers at Gravity Summit shared their insights from their own experiences with Social Media marketing.

So how do small to medium sized companies make customers look good when they are talking about their brand? Here are some examples:

  • Ramon De Leon, whose winning personality and innovative ideas has won him a huge following, owns numerous Domino’s Pizza franchises in Chicago. He’s a master at promoting his brand by promoting his customers. Ramon became a media superstar when he handled a mistake on an order with a “Videoapology” which became an immediate “cyber sensation”. Ramon prints his tweets on his pizza boxes. He runs online contests. He makes videos starring his customers. In turn, his customers promote his pizza.
  • Kyra Reed and Nic Adler saved Nic’s family’s Roxy Theater on the Sunset Strip by collaborating with other clubs on the strip (who in the past never even talked to each other) to create an online community that enabled them to rally their fans and revitalize a dying area. And, after 20 years of banning the use of cameras in the club, they now encourage audiences to take photos during performances and post them on Flickr and Twitter, thereby promoting The Roxy to all their friends and followers.
  • Brian Morrissey from Adweek encourages smaller brands to employ Social Media by attaching themselves to something larger, such as a charity, an event, a community, etc. The key is to align your brand to something relevant that people already feel good about in a way that everyone benefits. Making a donation when a customer makes a purchase and posting that on your website, blog, Facebook page, and if the customer agrees, thanking them by name, promotes your brand, your cause and your customers.

So, even if your company is not a well-known national brand, you can use Social Media to listen to what customers and potential customers are talking about in the online communities where they hang out (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.). Instead of simply marketing your brand to them, figure out ways to engage them and make them the stars of your brand.

Want to learn more?

Follow these folks on Twitter:

On Twitter: @mglundgren, @Ramon_DeLeon @nicadler @kyrareed @theroxy @bmorrissey

Check out the Gravity Summit

And here’s a great blog with great tips for attaching your brand to a cause: http://causemarketing.biz/

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3 Responses to “Your Brand is what Your Customers Say It Is”

John Reddish Says:

Well said. Too many folks still think we create the brand and therefore own its identity, forgetting that once it is introduced into the world, the world has the greater say in the matter. Best we can hope to do is influence/shape evolving brand identity.

rodney rumford Says:

Great blog post with some nice insights. It was a pleasure to meet you last week in NYC at the gravity summit event.


Rodney Rumford

Ramon De Leon Says:

Thanks for sharing this review of Gravity Summit NYC! I am Beyond Excited my passion reached you

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