Tuesday at Shop.org; the session was led by Kelly Moore from www.resourceinteractive.com.  I am using the ‘*’ to denote what could work for SuperCheapSigns.com. I have included examples throughout and I encourage you to explore these on your own.  The same goes for any terms you don’t recognize…

Kelly from Resource Interactive wrote a book called ‘OPEN BRAND’.  It will be available in December 2007.  Her presentation was very well thought out and detailed.  I’ll just note areas that stood out for me, and include what I’m thinking www.supercheapsigns.com can utilize and how.

It’s all about being ‘OPEN’ vs closed.  The ‘Social Web’ and birth of the iCitizen is the theme, with the moral of the story being this: you need to not only allow, but encourage your customers to talk about your products/services with each other in a way that is easy.  This interaction will not only increase profits, it will move your brand in the way your customers want it to move.

‘Closed’ is a monologue that targets customers. ‘Open’ fosters communication and dialogue, allowing customer to create, edit, and share what’s already out there.  George Lucas was called ‘letigious Lucas’ because he wanted to lock up his brand from being used in any way outside of his intent.  He now has opened up star wars clips for editing by users online to share with others. OPEN is an acronym you can use in any order; On demand, Personal, Engaging, and Networked.  I see this as feeding the child instincts; I want it now, It’s just for me, its interesting, and everybody else can see what I have done.  On one hand we are recognizing and encouraging individual ego, while at the same time realizing that we live in a global world and no one person has all the answers (but together we have a lot of them)! For those of you who know what ‘open source’ coding refers to, this is credited to have influenced ‘open branding’.  Now the brand is being created by the consumer.  Truly, this is bottom up managing.

It starts with people having fun with delicious and flickr because its easy and anyone who tries it feels competent to use it regularly.  Bringing everyone and anyone into the mix makes it interesting (i.e. mugglenet, geriatrick1927, & Emmerson Sparcs).  Ebay & Amazon take it to the consumer level.  Beautydish.com shows what bad can happen when Marykay doesn’t support the social web that encourages more sales.  ZeFrank is a now celeb because of some youtube videos he launched (and now he has paid sponsors). Starts out as one person with a passion for sharing a message, then  people like it and keep tuning in for more.

*How can Super Cheap Signs use this stuff? Internally, first: Training videos put into youtube.  Communication with blogs.  Allowing Customer Service Rep’s to share experiences online, and if customers want to chime in, all the better (careful, this would not be for venting be it employee or customer).

*We now offer a brief survey in exchange for a $10 coupon on the next order.  Survey is sent few days after customer gets their order.  The customer needs to be able to offer input a multiple points along the buying path.  Each template could have a customer rating system, “I give this template the highest rating of 5 signs because I got 1 call for every sign I put out”.  Build in an email reply that encourages feedback about customer’s template selection; must be easy and give consumer reason to do it (examples of reasons are celebrity, competence, collectivism, maybe a coupon).

The Funnel is the web page path a consumer is suppose to follow through to the sale.  The social web funnel is different; Listen & learn by monitoring the buzz around your products, build awareness with consumers who want to contribute, facilitate participation with a follow up email or call out etc, support the purchase (this is the part we are use to), and then re-engage by using what has been created by other consumers to bring them back.

JayRuns from Nike is a great example of a segment oriented community site.  *supercheapsigns.com can do this with REI’s & our Partners like an affiliate site.  It can be separate like a “yousigns.com” or can be part of the main site.  You gotta have some cool tools to make the sites.  According to Kelly, 10% of consumers contribute the majority of all social media.  Those 10% have to be actively engaged to facilitate participation.  Netflix includes customer reviews and recommendations that other users can interact with.

Lot’s of great opportunities for consumer involvement that has to be encouraged!