Thursday, October 29, 2009

Headline of the week: 10 Things Corporations Can Learn from Pro Wrestling

Sam Ford at Fast Company wrote a gem of a piece: 10 Things Corporations Can Learn from Pro Wrestling. The headline is nearly as attention-grabbing as the oversized mouthpieces of the WWE, but the content actually has some substance. I'm trying to work in a wrestling analogy, like seeing The Rock on Saturday Night Live and discovering that there's a little more to him than just what he's cookin', but I'm too sleepy to come up with anything good.

Anyway, back to the article: There's lots of sound advice here for businesses, nonprofits (yes, including libraries), and even individuals attempting to market themselves in a competitive economy. My favorite quote:

Brands who have active audiences online have probably learned the hard way how often passionate customers will tell everyone around them, and the brand, what they think. The key is to understand that this feedback is crucial and, if anything, should be encouraged, if your goal is to develop a long-term and transparent relationship with your target audiences.

In other words, don't be afraid of feedback - even negative feedback. I work with a Vendor-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named whose staff usually become very defensive (and sometimes downright unpleasant) when anyone suggests their products are less than perfect. I wish they could understand that candid feedback is a gift. Someone is taking time out of his or her overscheduled life to tell you how to make or do something better. Whether you're selling a product or just trying to do your job better, the appropriate response is a heartfelt "thank you." Then analyze that feedback and try to make use of it. If someone is unhappy, they're going to tell someone; if you're lucky, it'll be you. Usually they just tell 20 of their closest friends or post a negative review of your product.

There's lots more good advice in the article. Definitely worth a read.


Sam Ford said...

Great point regarding listening being useful for a variety of reasons: not just planning to respond. As you point out, people are saying things "out there" whether you listen or not. If nothing else, why wouldn't every company find the resources to take advantage of this public customer feedback, both for R&D purposes and for PR purposes?

Janet said...

@Sam - exactly. The smart companies are the ones participating in the public conversations on review sites, listening closely to all the feedback, trying to understand what their customers want and need, and being willing to reinvent themselves and their products when necessary. Not-so-smart companies (and industries) cling to outdated business models and try to force consumers to go along.