The new tool, known as Influencer E-Pulse, will enable Ketchum clients to gauge consumer reaction to new products and marketing initiatives and monitor consumer trends. It will also provide an early-warning system for potential product or brand problems; identify disgruntled and opinionated consumers; and discover and verify unchecked rumors.
“Consumers who are passionate about their opinion and are likely to vocalize it to others are seen as influencers,” says Barri Rafferty, director of Ketchum’s global brand marketing practice. “Whether they are experts, celebrities, or those who simply use their peer status to influence a wide range of others, influencers are playing an increasingly important role in shaping brand image and corporate reputation. Influencer E-Pulse is our way of enabling our clients to better understand how consumers feel about their brand, product or service and enhance their ability to initiate a dialogue and influence those perceptions.”
The new product will also offer valuable insight into the emotional side of consumer behavior by providing access to consumers’ verbatim accounts. Clients will be able to view actual customer letters to better understand why consumers have a positive or negative opinion of their brand or product. Armed with these insights, communicators and brand managers will be better equipped to create marketing and sales strategies that enhance corporate image and brand reputation while improving sales and increasing revenue.
Pete Blackshaw, CEO and founder of PlanetFeedback.com says companies need such intelligent and insightful tools to help them navigate and react to a constantly changing marketplace. “Today’s economic environment makes it more critical than ever for companies to have access to real-time consumer opinion and feedback¾and to understand how to make it work for them. This applies as much to positive news as negative news. With this tool, no company will ever again have to say, ‘If only we had known.’”
Blackshaw, who worked in marketing and public relations at Procter & Gamble before launching Planetfeedback 18 months ago, says the partnership with Ketchum is the first major strategic alliance for his company and that “we wanted to partner with a best in class public relations firm, especially one that was thinking about the influencer space.”
Vocal consumers have magnified their impact on the Internet, Blackshaw says. Planetfeedback handles 10,000 letters a week, almost evenly split between complaints and complements—a fact that surprises many companies. Says Blackshaw, “About 54 percent of the letters we receive are complaints, but in some industries the complement ratio is about 60 percent. Providing customer feedback to some companies is like liquid flowing through a corroded pipe—it’s so difficult that only the very worst stuff gets through, but there are a lot of consumers out there who want to provide positive feedback.”
Influencer E-pulse offers:
- Daily monitoring of thousands of consumer letters received by PlanetFeedback.com
- Benchmark reports on feedback patterns (complaints and compliments) gauged internally and against competitors and industry standards
- Early warning of consumer concern or dissatisfaction
- Quarterly trend reports by industry sector
- Surveys to better understand the consumer mindset behind both positive and negative feedback
- Message testing against select influencers
- Activation of peer marketing panels
- The ability to customize their own web sites for real-time tracking and analysis of consumer letters
“In most corporations, customer comments are handled through consumer affairs, which is seldom linked directly to a company’s overall communications strategy,” notes Rafferty. “Many organizations are sitting on a wealth of powerful consumer information. Our staff in London at Ketchum Life opened our eyes to the power of the peer-to-peer network and the importance of helping our clients harness the power of consumer opinion.”