Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How I got the coolest book ever and the future of Personal Proactive Public Relations

Something cool has been happening the last couple of months, actually ever since I put Daemon on my wishlist in February 2008. You should have noticed I have written some about it recently, but besides being an extraordinary story, as many other will tell you, the story of how it came to be is also a special one, in my view obviously indicitative of the future.

You may or may not be aware that Daemon reached me roughly through these people:

Obviously this may work worse if you suck, but Suarez and his publisher obviously had the strategy from the start to treat well and be generous to the (prominent) people likely to spread good things about the book. Not pay them (as I was upsettingly solicited for by an indonesian furniture company the other day), just be generous with free copies and attention.

I don't think I'm the only one easily flattered by even a little attention from someone I look up to, and I was very happy to receive this email the other day (republished without permission):

Hi Carl,
As we reach the January 8th hard cover release date for the Dutton edition of Daemon, I wanted to pass along a quick note expressing my thanks. It was grassroots support from early adopters like you that proved to New York publishing houses that there was an audience for Daemon. Without that critical support, my little self-published book might have quietly disappeared.

Instead, it will be front-of-store in every Barnes & Nobel and Borders in the U.S. and is being translated into ten languages. I’ve also signed a deal with DreamWorks for the film rights.

As my sincere thanks, I’d like to send you a copy of the new hard cover edition of Daemon. I hope that setting this alongside the self-published edition will always serve as a reminder that, with a little help, anything is possible on the Web.

Just shoot me an email with your preferred mailing address, and I’ll send the book along (and I won’t put you on a mailing list, either).

Carl, I cannot thank you enough for lending your support for my book when it was needed most. Have a great 2009, and I wish you every happiness life can bring.

Warm Regards,

Daniel Suarez (aka Leinad Zeraus)

That's so nice, isn't it? Actually, I didn't have the time to reply to it, before I received an even more personal comment on a tag and a link in a picture of my bookshelf! By then I was very impressed, asked to be called CJ instead (which Daniel since has adhered to), said that I'd be even more honored to have my personal copy signed, and pleaded for copies to three more people I described colourfully. I got a reply that I will get the books.

That's so cool! But how did he find my picture, does he follow my flickr photostream? Probably not, most likely he used the power of Google, more precisely Google Alerts. Below I have set it up to capture, among other things, anyone mentioning my full name or linking to either of my blogs anywhere on the public Web:

Sure, this is nothing new, Meltwaternews (previously Magenta) have done it for years, but I imagine it is becoming common like Suarez and his publisher must have done - to pipe these data straight into huge customer relationship management or issue tracking systems! Tag some nicknames or domains per customer, automatically determine who a post is from and keep contact info and correspondence, and you have the opportunity to make the customers think you really care about them.

It doesn't even have to be that large or comprehensive, several times it has happened to me that I mentioned (actually, I whined about) something on twitter, be it Firefox crashing or animoto creating too short clips, within five minutes someone supporting it had picked it up and directed me towards a solution (the clips are still too short though), thus hopefully preventing a grumpy customer complaining to all his or her friends about the crappy product, and instead possibly created a raving fan who will do more than his share to promote the product.

Actually, why wait until someone has a complaint, determine what someone could say who needs your product, monitor those search terms and be ready to step in with a friendly suggestion of your product when someone most needs it. Unless you suck, your conversion ratios should be nothing short of amazing! Actually, anyone can do these things, and possibly definitely should, both through Google Alerts for the web and TweetDeck for twitter. Don't be too distracted by monitoring other cool phrases though, such as listening in to everyone in the world twittering "I want a hard XXX" (did you click that link?).

Do note that this is not big brother, and it's barely distinguishable as spam even, this is just managing the flow of information the senders have already decided to make public. And it's really cool. Of course, only a fraction of all communication is today happening through twitter and only somewhat more in blogs, but it is growing and it is a fascinating opportunity for proactive customer relations or even marketing. Anders Edholm of Electrolux made a fascinating presentation (in Swedish) at Disruptive Media Conference a while back about much of this topic, check it out:

As may be obvious, my insight into this stuff is still limited, so I'd love some suggestion to for example improve my Google Alerts terms. See my other blog posts about viral marketing or Daemon.

1 comment:

Stefan Tell said...

Compared to marketing in general, this is something that I hope to see more of in the future. I wouldn't mind if companies that wants to promote products I might like to contact me if they do their research right.

Who knows, they might get a new friend (almost for free) that wants to promote their stuff, as you did.