Secrets to Success
Deborah Cole Micek
and John-Paul Micek

Sunday, June 12, 2005

How to use
consumer media

For many industries, consumer-generated media is fast becoming the most important factor in marketing effectiveness. For those industries where it's not yet a major determinant of marketing success, it's just a matter of time.

Consumer-generated media is the combination of comments, reviews, critiques and complaints wielded by consumers and devoured by prospective buyers in the world of blogs, forums, and online social networks.

CGM is nothing more than word of mouth. And word-of-mouth marketing -- which marketers have always desired -- is now on multimedia steroids. (To learn more specifics about CGM, visit www.intelliseek.com/cgm.asp.)

As your business coach, I'd be remiss if I didn't prepare you for the transformation taking place in the 21st-century marketplace. The consumer is in control with all the information, commentary and comparisons she could want at her fingertips.

In the automotive industry, the Internet is now inseparable from the purchase cycle. Nearly 75 percent of consumers cite word-of-mouth recommendations as the most influential factor in their car-buying decision. If you want to think of it another way, over $300 billion in global auto sales are influenced by the recommendations of others.

That's some pretty serious power behind word of mouth. And this is where CGM comes into the picture. Here's what big automakers have discovered that you can use to supercharge your small business growth:

In a recent article, "Who's Behind the Wheel Now?" (Available on www.clickz.com), Pete Blackshaw shares some data on how auto shoppers increasingly rely on the digital trail of high-impact CGM.

» CGM Impressions: The Web hosts more than 100 million auto-related comments from consumers. This barely factors in the explosive growth of experience-rich blog commentary. A growing percentage of these public comments are fortified with highly-persuasive multimedia imagery such as photos or videos

» CGM Reach: Comments act as de facto ad units. They're served in a highly targeted manner against nearly 1 billion auto-related searches every year.

» CGM Hot Spots: Millions of comments provide specifics on auto-related fraud, lawsuits, and safety problems.

» CGM Impact: A growing percentage of auto shoppers walk into showrooms with a stash of Internet commentary, blog reviews and Edmunds scorecards to increase negotiation leverage. Data equals power.

The small-business owner who makes it a top priority to stimulate a dialogue with consumers and monitor CGM will be the one to establish a firm leadership role in his or her chosen niche.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

John-Paul Micek is the lead business coach at RPM Success Group Inc. Reach him at JPM@RPMsuccess.com or toll-free at (888) 334-8151.

Deborah Cole Micek, chief executive officer of RPM Success Group, is a business success coach and life strategist. Reach her at DCM@RPMsuccess.com or toll-free at (888) 334-8151.

Read an expanded version of this article at www.GetCoachedforFree.com.

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