Greg Verdino’s new book, microMARKETING: Get Big Results by Acting and Thinking Small is already generating some great buzz because of one of the ways the book is being marketed.
Living up to the book’s premise, Greg and his partner at Powered, Inc., Aaron Strout, decided to forgo the usual blogger outreach program and target a select few based upon expertise in certain areas.
This was handled by Alexandra Kirsch, Social Media Coordinator for Planned Television Arts, and it’s an approach that’s been received favourably by those targeted by the outreach program.
As part of the limited outreach, I’m reviewing Chapter 7, From Reach to Relationships – Activating the Many by Resonating with the Right Few. These are my thoughts.
Reach is the Result
While there are a few examples of mass marketing throughout the chapter, the overarching viewpoint is simple and clear – while huge numbers can work, it’s the connections based around any figure that makes the real difference.
Opening with the much-maligned Suggested User List (visible when logged in) employed by Twitter to recommend potential follows to new Twitter users, Greg uses the example of blogging pioneer Anil Dash.
When Anil was placed on this list at the end of 2009, he went from having a few thousand followers to several hundred thousand (as of writing, he sits at 341,304). Great, right? Especially for a blogger – imagine the retweets and social shares of his posts!
But what Anil found was that, instead of getting more useful eyeballs, he really just got a larger amount of fairweather followers who didn’t really care about what he was saying – they just connected because Twitter had suggested him.
The reach was there, but it was a silent reach. In other words, there was no result from having the reach. And, as any good marketer will tell you, numbers are great but it’s the results that count. Heck, any marketer should be telling you this, never mind just good ones.
Relationship Marketing 2.0
From this starting point, the chapter opens up and discusses an oft-said mantra within social media – it’s the quality of the connection, not the quantity. However, where Greg differs is that he actually backs up this kumbaya mantra with quantifiable examples.
To quantify the examples he uses, Greg first shares a defining white paper that was published way back in 1999, but still rings true today.
Commissioned by the Institute for Public Relations and authored by Dr. James E. Grunig and Dr. Linda Childers (Hon.), the white paper looked at how organizations could relate better with the public. Their findings led to two distinct approaches: Exchange Relationship and Communal Relationship. To quote the white paper:
In an Exchange Relationship, one party gives benefits to the other only because the other has provided benefits in the past or is expected to do so in the future.
In a Communal Relationship, both parties provide benefits to the other because they are concerned for the welfare of the other – even when they get nothing in return.
As Greg points out, while both may appear similar – they’re about getting sales, at the end of the day – the approach is hugely different. While an exchange relationship might get you customers, a communal relationship will get you customers that have the potential to become evangelists. These customers can then result in new customers because of their love for the brand – the Holy Grail of any marketing campaign.
But it’s not just the relationship that’s important – it’s the right relationship.
Big Brands, Micro-Marketing
To enforce Greg’s view that it’s the small things that matter, he uses some great examples of how big brands have taken this communal relationship and thought smaller to get big results.
Panasonic’s Living in HD campaign, for instance, took 12 families in 2008 and made them part of a fully immersive program to test out their top-of-the-range consumer electronics equipment.
They would have the latest gadgets as part of their everyday lives, and all they had to do was offer feedback on the experience, through their own blogs in the LiHD community.
The project has been a huge success, and seen the community grow from 12 families to 100. Indeed, Greg uses a letter to Panasonic from one such family to show their gratitude, and how the project has changed their lives (the previously tech-agnostic wife now has a job in social media and a thriving website).
Greg also uses examples from the Walmart ElevenMoms project (now Walmart Moms) as well as the McDonald’s Moms Quality Correspondents program to show how big companies are using relationships with the few to achieve results normally associated with the many.
Does microMARKETING Work for All?
It’s this attention to detail and statistics that sets Greg’s book apart from many other books that look at marketing in the social media era.
While other books may be a good read, and offer an “Isn’t social media great?” mindset because of buzzwords and sexy tales of the odd success story, few go into the Why behind the What. Greg Verdino offers the meat behind the cordon bleu appetisers. It’s an approach that I wish more social media authors would take (and a key reason I stopped reviewing these types of books last year).
If there’s any criticism, it’s that once again it’s the larger brands that are used as an example. Panasonic, Walmart, McDonald’s – would the same approaches have been successful with businesses that have a fraction of the budget available to these guys?
Would the bloggers attached to the ElevenMoms project have jumped to write about Joe’s Bakery instead of Walmart, for instance? (Note – I’m only speaking from the point of view of Chapter 7 – it may be that the rest of microMARKETING addresses smaller examples).
However, to be fair, this is something that social media as a whole needs to address better. We’ve all heard the big success stories – let’s hear about the small successes too.
So, is microMARKETING: Get Big Results by Acting and Thinking Small worth your time? From my point of view as a single chapter reader, I’m hungry to read the rest of the book. Its figures, stats and anecdotes offer an excellent reason why the new media landscape we find ourselves in is so important to businesses today.
From that angle, microMARKETING could well be one of the best social media books on the market today.
If you want to get a feel for the other chapters in the book, Greg is offering an updated list of all the reviews and they can be found here. You can also find out where you can buy microMARKETING.