Marketing Buzz 06/04

Building a fan base, inexpensive market research and more
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This story appears in the June 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Fan Affair

Famous rock bands have always had fan clubs to sing their praises. Roger Blackwell and Tina Stephan's book Brands That Rock: What Business Leaders Can Learn From the World of Rock and Roll explains how any company can cultivate a powerful fan base.

Blackwell advises that not-so-glam companies study Elton John's transformation from a "dowdy, poorly dressed guy with little personality to an international superstar."

A professor of marketing at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Blackwell says companies, like successful rock bands, should communicate with clients, treat them well, and make them feel they're important to the company.

Game company Looney Labs is winning customers against giants like Hasbro Games with the help of the Mad Lab Rabbits-500-plus fans who volunteer to work their tails off at trade shows, conventions and local appearances.

They're not paid, explains Kristin Looney, 38, who co-founded the College Park, Maryland, company with her husband, Andrew, 40. Many enjoy the camaraderie and the games. "A Rabbit might spend the weekend at a convention hanging out and promoting our games and only earn 20 [product credits]-worth roughly $20," she says. "It's the fun that brings them back, not the [credits]."

Quick Pick
If you need fast feedback but don't have the bucks to hire a market research firm, may be the answer. This inexpensive tool lets you work through a Web-based interface to construct questionnaires to get feedback from customers, employees, vendors or virtually any audience you wish to reach. Once your survey is completed, the service sends you a link to forward to your list or post on your Web site. You can also use the company's list management tool to send out the survey link. At $19.95 per month, which includes 1,000 survey responses per month, this back-talk won't break the bank. And you can add the peace of mind that comes with 128-bit Secure Socket Layer encryption of your survey for $9.95 per month. Discounts are available for annual subscriptions.

of online consumers won't provide information to Web sites that lack a privacy policy.
SOURCE: The Customer Respect Group

is a consultant and writer specializing in marketing.

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