There has been a fair amount of buzz in the online world this year regarding the concept of being useful to your customers even if that usefulness extends beyond the usual domain of your brand. Whether on a social media platform or via a mobile app, companies are being told that they need to find ways to make themselves a valuable resource for customers, a source customers will go to for credible information that perhaps cannot be found elsewhere.
This all sounds nice, but how exactly can a company make this happen?
Last week we found a real-world, real-time example.
What happens when the Jobs Report goes unreported?
The jobs report at the start of each month is a key economic indicator. Not only is it an important source of data for the nation, but many publications also rely on the monthly report as source of editorial content. Industry Week is one such publication. As a magazine that tracks the health of America’s manufacturing, the jobs report is a key component of what they publish on a monthly basis.
On October 4th, however, there was no Jobs Report. It was one of the many victims of the government shut-down.
Industry Week could have published an article blasting the government or they could have found “filler” content knowing that every other publication was going to be in the same boat. Instead, to the publication’s credit, they did something rather creative instead.
In an article titled, “No Jobs Report, No Problem,” Industry Week noted: But for Americans still looking for steady work, the jobs report is more than a bump in the news cycle. These people sometimes get an iota of attention on a day like this, but not much else. And their stories deserve to be heard.” To that end, the publication decided to encourage their readers to talk to them on Facebook, on Twitter, or via email.
Why this is a good idea
This idea from Industry Week is not agenda-free. Part of their motivation is to hold President Obama accountable for his “million jobs” pledge, so one could argue there is a political motivation to encourage people to converse. Industry Week also can gain traffic to its Facebook page and its website by encouraging people to comment. However, these facts do not underly that the project also squarely places the spotlight on people who are currently looking for work. The concept also shows that the publication understands how important the jobs report is to Industry Week readers, and the offering of first-person accounts results in making the project a valuable source of information for people who are curious about how the jobless in the US are really faring.
In the end, Industry Week took on a very negative situation and ultimately created something that will probably have long-term positive ramifications for the publication and its readers.
The moral of the story is simple. Make sure you know your customers well enough to know when something in the world is impacting them. Be innovative enough and flexible enough to try to turn that negative for your customers into a positive. You’ll earn loyalty from new customers and will keep loyalty from customers who have been with you for awhile.
It’s a win-win for when the chips are down.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eaglelightphotos/10086130046/ via Creative Commons