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Your customers are smarter than you

image Starbucks is the second company (after Dell) to use a really great implementation of IdeaStorm to encourage customers to share their ideas, feedback, and criticism.  They do it well, and it’s genuine. 

In the few months since they launched they received more than 30,000 posts.

The big customer idea that got everyone talking was an "Splash Stick" that keeps your coffee from spilling while you walk back to the office. 

This week they’ve gotten press from BusinessWeek, USA Today, and a zillion blog posts. Why is that significant?  Because Starbucks makes little innovations every day that nobody notices.  But when ideas come from real people, everyone gets excited. 

Lesson:  How can you invite your customers to brainstorm with you, publicly and genuinely. 

(Thanks to Evette for the tip.)

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  1. Michelle Riggen-Ransom June 20, 2008 at 8:50 am #

    While I am all for listening to your customers, about the last thing the world needs is another superfluous, mass-produced piece of plastic. How about Starbucks filling the cups a little less full? Or customers walking less jauntily? Or making something out of, I dunno, recycled paper?
    I applaud Starbucks their efforts for using social media to connect with their customers, but there needs to be more thought given to how ideas are implemented, especially at the corporate level.
    At least the sticks are green in color.

Your customers are better writers than you

All marketers struggle with great copywriting.  We want it to be genuine, snappy, and effective.

But it’s hard to sit there day after day and put out fresh words. It’s harder to get excited about products that you see day in and day out.

Solution:  Let your customers do it for you.

All you need to do is give them the opportunity.  Give them a forum, a blog, a place to post reviews.  Tell them that you want to hear from them and you love what they write.

They are already writing reviews of your stuff on Yelp, Amazon, and their blogs. You might as well get the great copy for your site too.

Check out this great example from uShip’s forum:

Ah, the wonders of the internet! Late night, surfing around, I happened across a craigslist ad for a calf muscle weight-training machine. Not just any calf machine but, au contraire mon ami, a one-and-only Hammer Strength brand apparatus. What luck! What joy! What a burn my calf muscles were in for! But wait. Oh dear…said machine is in…Tampa? According to Google maps, an insurmountable 1108 miles away. What to do? Drive down myself and haul it back? I look at the Mini Cooper and it looks back at me as if to say, "Don’t even think about it!" After all, the calf machine weighs 380 pounds. Federal Express quotes a charge of $1057! For the love of god, the machine only cost $400! Dreams dashed yet again. But what the internet taketh away, it also bringeth back in the form of uShip. Click, click, posted the ad right quick and within two days, four (4!) offers to unite me with my newfound love, all for a paltry $200! Fast forward, my calf machine is with me and I’ve never been more shapely! No pain, no gain? I beg to differ. Thanks uShip!

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  1. Phil Strohl January 30, 2008 at 9:52 am #

    Couldn’t agree more. If we could write that kind of marketing content we’d be in great demand as copywriters. The next challenge is getting those customers stories out there. In an attempt to do a better job of that we just relaunched our testimonials section, uShip Stories, to make it much more searchable for our customers, partners and search engines to find and navigate.
    uShip Stories:
    The example referenced in your post can be found at:
    Would love to hear other comments/ideas on how others have used customer testimonials to market their products.

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