Reading this chapter on listening to the groundswell has really helped me contextualize the different tools and tactics that can be used to energize a customer base because it all starts with listening. In this chapter, the author stresses that a company’s brand or product isn’t what the company says it is, but what the customer says it is. The best way for a company to figure out what customers are saying about its brand or product is by listening to them—online, in forums, or even surveys. However, this chapter stresses that this is different from market research, which strictly gathers information, because listening provides the company with insight to what the customer is doing and thinking. While gathering insight is important, it should be noted that using the groundswell to listen to customers is not an accurate representation of a company’s customer base because the groundswell only includes those talking about the company. Every company will have spectators and joiners who only use social media and the Internet to gather information, not to post their thoughts and opinions. This chapter also stresses that to profit from listening, a company has to act on what it learns. For example, in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Ellen Sonet, the vice president of marketing for New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, learned the various places where cancer patients went to obtain information on treatment options and that most patients trust their primary care physician the most with this information through listening. This helped the company strategize where to put their information in a place so patients will find it and read it. The chapter also mentions that while there hasn’t been any proof—yet— that listening to the groundswell increases sales, researchers are beginning to see a positive correlation between the two. For all these reasons, companies should listen to the groundswell because it can benefit them by: finding out what their brand stands for; understanding how buzz around their brand or product is shifting; saving money on research; finding the sources of influence in their market; managing crises; and generating new product and marketing ideas.   

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