Old-school hip-hop and a pretty strange lesson in customer engagement

Old School Hip-Hop and Customer Engagement

I picked up my first celebrity Twitter followers this week.  Let me elaborate.  Eric B and Rakim are old school US hip hop artists.  Their 1987, album, Paid in Full, pretty much launched hip-hop’s modern era.  These days, Eric and Rakim are big on personal empowerment, Islam, phat beats and making money.  I’m a UK management consultant who’s big on strategy, service design, innovation and  … well … um, making money.

These guys started following me on Twitter after reading my post on why employees should be entrepreneurs.  My self-esteem went up several notches because of my new and notable Twitter following.  The iTunes store ran up a couple more purchases of Paid in Full (the Deluxe Edition) and I got busy posting stuff about the rappers on my Facebook page.

In short, I’m now thinking that Eric B and Rakim are better than Eminem, Elvis, Grandmaster Flash, the Beatles and potentially Jesus.

Eric B and Rakim are a big deal in hip-hop circles; you could say that they’re a brand.  Which made me think that the point of brand and engagement isn’t what customers think about our brand.  The point is what our brands think about our customers.

Customer respect

A few years ago I did some marketing strategy for a big UK insurer.  It had products for pretty much every socio-demographic and it called it’s poorest customer segment “bottom-feeders”.  Lumping customers into categories with disrespectful names is not good humanity.  There are three reasons why it’s also not good business.

  1. Internal language shapes employees’ attitude and attitudes inevitably leak out to customers.  Contemptuous language is a great platform for lousy customer service.
  2. Contempt blocks empathy. Customer empathy is the best tool known to man for coming up with new product and service ideas.
  3. Marketing is (at least) two-way these days.  If you’re reading this on social media, you know this already.  The days when a consumer brand could run in broadcast-mode only are long gone.

It’s interesting that companies think so much about how to build fans and followers and so little about following the people who buy their products and services.   There are lots of brands that I like.   I’d love them even more if they gave me back a little bit of social media love.

About Simon Kirby

Digital and Innovation Strategist.I offer an uncommon ability to refresh and renovate business models and customer propositions.With digital experience dating back to 1996 and senior roles at some of the world’s leading companies, I am well positioned to assemble, lead or collaborate with the strategic, creative, technical and commercial talent that creates breakthroughs.As a leading independent, freelance consultant, I help Executives, Senior Civil Servants, Digital entrepreneurs and the Agencies that serve them, to create transformation.

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