Thank You to The Thank You Economy

December 19, 2011: Jen Joly, VP Marketing, Brand and Creative Direction

In the spirit of the holidays, I want to send a big thank you out to Gary Vaynerchuk. I just finished The Thank You Economy, Vaynerchuk's latest book (released earlier this year). I really enjoyed the read. Yet, the book surprised me because it wasn't really all about marketing (at least in a traditional sense), nor was it all about social media.

Surprise #1: It's not really about marketing.

I hesitate to say it's not about marketing ... actually, it's what marketing should have always been about. It's something that we lost somewhere along the way as companies grew larger and CEOs flying corporate jets replaced owners who knew their customers by name. It's about customer relationships. I wouldn't say this is a completely novel concept, but I think talking about putting all (or even most) of your marketing eggs in this basket is still pretty innovative.

"In the end, no matter what obstacles a company faces in the Thank You Economy, the solution will always be the same. Competitors are bigger? Outcare them. They're cheaper? Outcare them. They've got celebrity status and you don't? Outcare them. Social media gives you the tools to touch your consumer and create an emotion where before there might not have been one."

One of my favorite parts of the book was a story from Joie de Vivre Hotels. One way the California-based hotel chain builds incredible customer relationships is through their DreamMaker program. Each employee is encouraged to get information about each visitor when they make a reservation. The company then encourages employees to use that info to provide an amazing guest experience.

Vaynerchuk details the story of one employee at the Hotel Durant in Berkeley. The employee found out that one guest, Mrs. Z, was making regular trips to Berkeley to stay with her son. Her son was a 20-year-old UC Berkeley student trying to continue his studies while dying of cancer. During one stay, the employee bought Mrs. Z a ceramic mug with a built-in strainer and steeper, along with a tin of fresh chamomile tea and sunflowers to brighten up her room. With the gifts, she included a card that said "For a loving mother who deserves to relax. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers." Mrs. Z continued staying at Joie de Vivre until her son graduated. The story literally brought me to tears (I'm not a big crier either!).

Vaynerchuk is talking about a strategic shift, not just in marketing, but in the culture of a company as a whole. The "Thank You Economy" is about wowing your customers - by creating a 'culture of wow' from the top down.

Surprise #2: It's not all about social media.

As mentioned in the quote about 'outcaring' above, Vaynerchuk spends a lot of time talking about how social media plays a role in the "Thank You Economy". That said, Vaynerchuck admits that social media isn't the 'be all, end all' of marketing as some social media advocates have touted.

"There are some brands that might be able to get away with marketing themselves exclusively on social media, but there is not a single company out there that cannot benefit from adding social media to its marketing strategy."

I think that was surprising to me because Vaynerchuk has been extremely successful at promoting his own businesses through social platforms. I couldn't agree with Vaynerchuk more that every company can benefit from social media. The part I really love though is that he points out there are a limited number of companies who can 'get away with' relying on social media alone.

I believe many marketers in the financial services and healthcare industries will appreciate this perspective. After all, you need to communicate and market some of the most complex products and services available to consumers. You cannot easily ignore the other tactics available because they have value, too!

In the last quote I'll share with you, Vaynerchuk mentions a point he brings up throughout the book that I find especially insightful.

"If marketers commit to Thank You Economy principles, wholeheartedly, reallocate their marketing resources properly, and find ways not only to take advantage of the best that social media and traditional media have to offer but also to actually play them off each other, they will see and incredible return on any investment they make."

In 2012, we'll be giving away copies of The Thank You Economy at various industry conferences. We're hoping to compile some of the innovative changes that are made by people inspired by its principles ... stay tuned! In the meantime, feel free to share some of your best efforts in wowing your customers below.

This blog post was originally published on the Priority Blog at Priority Integrated Marketing is now BlueSpire Strategic Marketing.

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