User Generated Business

I am currently in a class taught by the lengendary Paul Allen- not the one from Microsoft,the entrepreneur who started,,,etc..

One of the single most successful ideas that Paul emphasized is the concept of user-generated content. And once again my personal "reverse marketing" trend comes into play.

How many websites provide a model to allow user generated content? Go ahead, start naming them in your head...

Now, how many of those are top performing websites? Almost every single one. EBay, Wikipedia, blogs(in their own realm), photosharing, etc.. These are the websites that thrive. Why? Because it is the users who create the content.

It is a marketing technique that puts the reviews and content in the hand of those who know the best-your own customer. And why not? While marketers brainstorm in their offices of how to "better connect with customers" they pass up the idea to allow the customer to answer the question themselves.

Once again, a marketing trend in the marketplace that is explosive, yet it is still ignored and reverse of normal marketing techniques employed by 90% of companies in the world.

Blogs on the Move

A recent news post from MarketingVOX shows the up-and-coming potential that blogging holds. AOL bought Weblogs.,Inc. for 25 million. That is quite the price tag.

So what is it specifically about blogging that is so attractive?

From a marketing perspective, I believe that it is the reliability of personal opinion vs. mainstream and business messages fueled by money and intent to sell.

Its the same reason that eBay rules the online auction world. People will naturally trust the goodwill of others. Blogging creates almost an immediate relationship on the simple basis that you are reading the opinions of an individual, and they have no real intention or motivation to mislead(even though some may).

This market, therefore, can create very loyal customers, and marketing gurus need to interpret it as such.

Ultimate Return Policy

What if you ran a company that returned your product, to anyone, at anytime, no questions asked?

I would be willing to bet that any business would be better off in the long run by treating their customers this way.(don't make me cite examples and numbers, because I can)

What do you think?

Customer Service

I just got done talking with a gentleman about his cable company that he works for. He was kind of complaining about the fact that 30% of his annual management salary bonus hinged on customer service ratings...

I prodded a little further and asked why it bothered him so much. He explained that customers get irate when their cable goes out for a few days (as anyone would be), and he thought that there was nothing he could do about their anger. No matter how nice they are to them, they still are angry about the cable being out and end up giving poor customer service reports.

I asked him if they ever off something to the customer for their troubles...such as a free month on their bills, or some other discounts, or any kind of offer. His reply was, "Once you get into management, you will understand that you cant just give stuff away to customers..."

That is the problem. I wanted to explain reverse marketing concepts to him, but I did not want to push the issue (seeing as though he was out to teach me a lesson about business).

Would it cost money? Of course. But to keep customers coming back for 20 years...what is it worth to you? Obviously not one month worth of cable costs for one customer and your bonus at the end of the year...