Testify!

I’ve become a regular subscriber to the RSS feed of a Marketing blog, Church of the Customer, because the authors consistently write great content and are generally fun to read. I’ve also started listening to their infrequent podcast, because the guests, production quality and subject matter are top-notch. At the end of their most recent podcast was a call to action for folks to be one of the first six emailers to mention the podcast in order to receive a free book compliments of the WOMMA summit.

I was not one of the first six. But Jackie Huba was nice enough to send me a copy of Testify! as a parting gift. This is my informal review.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m predisposed to liking this book since the blog and podcast are great. I may even evangelize on Ben & Jackie’s behalf because I got a hand-written note accompanying the book. The text of the note is below:

Seth,

Thanks for listening to our podcast! We’d love your feedback on the next one.

Jackie & Ben

It’s no fawning love letter, but I get the feeling that they honestly respect my opinion. Plus, the letterhead was nice. No Flickr photo for you; some things I’d like to cherish. Who am I kidding? I’m just that lazy. Deal with the blockquote.

Back to the task at hand: the review. Testify! is the “supplement to the hardcover book ‘Creating Customer Evangelists'” and as such is a glossy-covered paperback eerily reminiscent of my dog-eared copy of The Tao of Pooh. Perhaps I’ve said too much already.

Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell serve as editors, compiling the real-life stories of companies who are out there empowering their own customer evangelists. These companies all strive to follow six tenets of the customer evangelist manifesto:

  1. Customer plus-delta: Continuously gather customer feedback.
  2. Napsterize knowledge: Make it a point to share knowledge freely.
  3. Build the buzz: Expertly build word-of-mouth networks.
  4. Create community: Encourage communities of customers to meet and share.
  5. Make bite-size chunks: Devise specialized, smaller offerings to get customers to bite.
  6. Create a cause: Focus on making the world, or your industry, better.

Perhaps I’ve said too much again. Jackie and Ben believe in Napsterizing knowledge, but I don’t want to spoil the joy of reading this book or steal their (monetary) thunder. If you want to sample the wares yourself, you can get an abridged version online, direct from the source.

The 18 testimonials (Get it? Testify!) that comprise the bulk of the book range from the astounding to the ‘perhaps this was written by the marketing department in a thinly-veiled attempt to be in a book’ types. But what do I know? Perhaps even I’m jaded by word-of-mouth.

The good ones, though, are fabulous. If I lived near C&M Auto Service, I would take my car there. If I lived in Seattle, I think my entertainment budget would include season tickets to see the Sonics. If I have time to kill 5 minutes from now, I’m definitely checking out Brewtopia. These companies seem to me like they understand empowering their customers. They understand that we’re not there just to consume their product/service and fork over our cash.

In the words of Hugh, THE MARKET FOR SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN IS INFINITE. These companies, and hopefully others with the help of Jackie and Ben, make me believe in them.

Maybe the best compliment I can give Testify! is that it makes me want to buy Creating Customer Evangelists. Barring another free gift, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

As much as a website producer for a cable network (that’s me) can do to promote happy customers (viewers) spreading our gospel, I’m definitely on board. Maybe it’s time we sent thank-you emails to all our mailing-list subscribers or left comments on all the blogs that mention us, good or bad. Maybe we just need to have the best shows, the funniest shows, and the greatest website for community, buzz-building, bite-sized cause generation in all the internet.

Or maybe I need to lie down for a while.

Either way, the path to success in the 21st century is clear. “Continuous repetition of mass media ads is like adding water to the ocean” ergo, “business goes where it’s invited, but stays where it’s appreciated.”

So thank you, loyal TBS viewers. I’ll keep doing my best and trying to make things better so that you’ll keep watching. And Jackie and Ben, thanks for the book. You’ve made me feel appreciated. Now I want to give that feeling to all the people we reach in our business every day.

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