Book Review: 'The Thank You Economy'
“The Thank You Economy” is a marketing and business book by Gary Vaynerchuk. Vaynerchuk’s intent is not digital marketing but building customer engagement online and in the real world. What are the pros and cons of this book? What does it cover and where is it lacking?
Pros of the Book “The Thank You Economy”
The underlying principle of this marketing book is that social media - and the internet in general - allow us to create the same personal relationships one has as a shop owner with the “regulars” but on a massive scale. You have to engage your customers in the same rewards for loyalty and give periodically delightful service in order to keep them in this highly competitive economy. But how do you do this? Vaynerchuk answers this in his book. Note – coupons aren’t enough but are a start.
The book discusses how technology has changed but human nature hasn’t. The shift is that our “tribes” and communities are on shared interest and sense of loyalty, no longer geographic. Technology does have an impact. For example, word of mouth marketing continues to exist and influence people. However, the impact of social media is that negative or positive word of mouth can go viral, literally seen by millions. Vaynerchuk suggests treating the online customer community as one would your neighbors who shop at your store. The benefit of this approach is that you build gratitude and emotional ties to your brand; the challenge is the work it can create due to the sheer size of the online community in the best case scenario.
While “The Thank You Economy” focuses on social media and one’s online presence, the book does address the customer-centric focus that brick and mortar companies need to have. In fact, excellent customer service as company policy and ingrained into the corporate culture has the side benefit of generating positive word of mouth whether in person or online. This book tells you how to do that beyond a sentence in your mission statement.
This book discusses the importance of the first-mover advantage, since it puts you in the lead of trends instead of the “me-too” response that rarely helps your online image. Its value and uses are talked about in the book.
Cons of “The Thank You Economy”
This book discusses the reasons why people have ignored social media to date, such as the lack of clear ROI and metrics that don’t necessarily translate to the financial metrics business owners prioritize. One of the downsides of this book is its use of relatively dated data to answer these questions. The statement that “social media will pass” is obviously not true, but customer base shifts from one platform to another are certainly an issue. There was a time when social media marketing consisted of posting links on Digg unless you were a musical act, at which point you put an update on Myspace. Twitter is likely facing the same shift to new sites like Gab because of its purging of conservative users and many of its most popular contributors, conservative and libertarian alike.
“The Thank You Economy” doesn’t discuss the degrees to which a company can utilize the internet for marketing. You don’t have to apply SEO to your website and have a massive, coordinated social media marketing campaign. Steps as simple as claiming your business directories and standardizing them after making sure the information is correct give your company a high ranking local SEO presence while ensuring potential local customers can find you. This act doesn’t require monitoring review sites and social media platforms to respond to anything negative.
Giving coupon codes and freebies to customers for positive reviews can result in more positive mentions of your business on social media and positive reviews by others. Giving freebies or vouchers to those unhappy with service and sharing that information on social media can offset the negative reviews they gave; in some cases, the reviewer may be able to alter the review from negative to positive, while on some sites, it can simply result in a new, improved review to offset the old bad one. You cannot neglect this aspect of the “thank you economy”, since most customers check reviews before buying a product or paying for a service. And these reviews increasingly impact your SEO, from their local search engine optimization value to search engines prioritizing businesses with good reviews over those that don’t.
The book does a decent job with the Old Spice case study that “buzz” and views are not the same thing as a positive image and unlikely to result in loyal customers who will buy from you again and again. There are several other case studies in this book, as well.
“The Thank You Economy” contains a number of good sections from why you need to be engaged on social media with your customers to actionable advice on how to create good online feedback. It gives suggestions on how to recover from negative feedback from customers and turn it into positive word of mouth marketing. It is somewhat weak in advice on how to translate real world relationships into positive world of mouth marketing online, but that is covered by a number of other books. Overall, I give this marketing and customer relationship management book four stars.