Some time ago I wrote about how I’d managed to free myself of unwanted junk marketing calls from Toucan Telecom. Interestingly, that post shows up (as I write) as the fifth hit in a Google search for the company. The sixth hit is another blog post on the same subject, and as I mention in comments there, anyone researching Toucan online before signing up with them is thus likely to read negative views.
Customers have always had voices, but now those voices can not only be heard, they can be found. For example, I’ll be running frequent Google searches for ‘Smart Glasgow’ to see whether my last post crops up there. I’m already the fifth hit for ‘Smart Roadster Glasgow’.
I’m no marketing guru, but I can’t help thinking this is a big deal. Now we’re all ‘mystery shoppers’, with the twist that our reports are public. This is, of course, exactly what Hugh Macleod is trying to twist to advantage with Stormhoek wine. The idea there is to – quite literally – give the product away to bloggers in the hope that we’ll talk about it, and thus promote the brand as a secondary effect. Which is either cripplingly silly or unbelievably clever, depending on your point of view. And, indeed, the outcome.
Hugh’s blog is worth reading on all this, and the core ideas are expounded in The Cluetrain. Which, by the way, I’ve always found rather hard reading, but I tend to think I should persevere.
[update 21/9/2005: my Toucan post is now the third Google hit for ‘Toucan Telecom.’ One place above Toucan’s own site. Remarkable.]