Energizing the Groundswell

Energizing can be referred to the power that word of mouth has on your customers and their contacts who may also become future customers to your company. This spread of brand benefits has no cost to your company, word of mouth is a powerful amplifier of brand marketing that achieves results no media campaign can achieve. It succeeds because:

  • It’s believable – Testimonials and comments are more credible than any media source. I frequently read customer reviews when purchasing products online that I haven’t tried before which helps me determine if it is worth the purchase.
  • It’s self-reinforcing – Hearing it from one person is intriguing, but hearing it from many people must make it true. Many good reviews help me make the decision to purchase and try the product myself.
  • It’s self-spreading – If a product is worth using, its word of mouth generates more word of mouth that is exponential. If good reviews lead me to purchase and I enjoy the product and its benefits, I will recommend it to friends and family, thereby sharing my experience.

Word of mouth is the most honest form of marketing, building upon people’s natural desire to share their experiences with family, friends, and colleagues (Li & Bernoff, 2011). As mentioned in my previous posts, listening to the groundswell generates insights and talking to the groundswell is effective, but marketers must not end there. Energizing the groundswell means tapping into the power of word of mouth by connecting with, and turning on, your most committed customers.

Referring back to the Social Technographics Profile of your potential customers and participants of the groundswell, creators are only part of the story. Critics and spectators commenting on blogs or post ratings and reviews, as well as read the blogs, and watch the videos. If you could encourage the creators to write about your brand or product, the people lower down on the ladder will start hearing it and could result in a lot of impact, people believe other people more than media.

The value of an energized customer depends on how much of your business comes from word of mouth, and is based on which customers come to your based on your reputation and referrals, and how much comes from advertising. Another measure of the value of word of mouth is that you can actually buy it by paying a company to hire volunteers to evaluate your product. Generally, customers self-select because they like your products and they keep talking about those products for years which is why it’s worth to energize them. According to the groundswell, there are three basic techniques for connecting with your brand’s enthusiasts:

  1. Tap into customers’ enthusiasm with ratings and reviews
  2. Create a community to energize your customers
  3. Participate in and energize online communities of your brand enthusiasts

There are many benefits to ratings and reviews, which are both highly measurable. Reviews increase the buy rate, as most customers including myself use online reviews to help them make purchases. Research shows that about 80% of reviews are positive, but negative reviews are also essential to the credibility of the site as only positive reviews just don’t seem believable. Ratings and reviews can also help suppliers, it provides a report telling them not only what is selling but what people think of those products.

Depending on what your customer base is like and how you hope to change your relationship with those customers, there are many good ways to energize. You must consider the propensities of your customer base first, then design strategies and choose technologies that match the relationships they already have and provide ways for customers to extend those relationships. Doing this with skill results in your customers to sell to each other. Energizing is both more powerful and riskier than listening and talking because now you’re dealing with people who are going to talk about your brand. There are five steps for applying the techniques of energizing your own organization:

  1. Figure out if you want to energize the groundswell
  2. Check the social technographics profile of your customers
  3. Ask yourself, “what is my customers problem?”
  4. Pick a strategy that fits your customers’ social technographics profile and problems
  5. Don’t start unless you can stick around for the long haul

In energizing the groundswell, you’ll find out that not all your customers are equal. To summarize this chapter, we talked about energizing the base which includes your most enthusiastic customers. The message for any company is to listen and whenever possible, to give customers what they desire most. Energizing the most enthusiastic customers often ends up embracing them, turning those customers into an integral part of the company’s product and processes.


Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review.


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