Contact Maverick Mom F.A.Q. About Maverick Mom Home Media Room Tribe

Building A More Social Experience [Day 7 – 28 Days to BFL]


This is Day 7 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Yesterday, the uber-fab Shelley Kramer took us out on the limb of being human. Today, one of my oldest, dearest and most business savvy Twitter friends, Jeffrey Summers, takes our conversation in a new and challenging direction. Be prepared to think. 🙂

Building A More Social Experience

By: Jeffrey Summers| @JeffreySummers

Just as a great photograph isn’t simply taken, it’s created, so does the story you tell about your business and the experience you offer those who have or have yet to, choose to do business with you. Consumer’s mindsets have gone through a recalibration in terms of how they perceive, establish and value – value, trust and loyalty, as well as how they now define their overall relationships with brands. Gone are the days of endless push marketing tactics. Today’s successful marketers understand “social pull”. Therefore, understanding how to create a compelling story and then communicate that story to those who would feel compelled to participate in it, is extremely critical in successfully defining effective marketing and a successful social business. The most effective means of communicating these values, now happens within communities.

So when considering the question of how to build deeper (real, organic) loyalty and trust (not the frequency scheme kind) with your customers through the creation or participation in a community, you have to consider the strategic nature of four critical issues.

Listening Or Know Your Customers

Sorry, but the Golden Rule no longer applies. Because it’s not about you. It’s about your customers (and employees!). You don’t treat others how you want to be treated, you treat them how they want to be treated. Huge difference. Obviously, the key is in knowing how they want to be treated.

Secondly, how can you add the right value to your customer’s experience with your brand if you don’t understand what drives their interest in the first place? Too many rely on anecdotal evidence and internal likes and dislikes.

It’s also, despite previous posts on this theme, not about simply being human, but about what kind of human? What values, traits and characteristics does your business identify with, that reflect your core target market? What about your experience is calibrated or engineered to reflect, support and facilitate those very attributes?

So it’s critical that you do some fundamental work toward understanding better, the who, what, when, where, how and why of what makes your customers, be customers as well as what makes them continue to be your customers.

Just who are they? Where do they get their information about products and services? Whom do they trust and why? What are their communication preferences? How do they establish trust? Who influences them? Whom do they influence? Why? What values do they subscribe to and how do they differentiate among them?


Whatever you think about how abused this word is, it still has powerful meaning.

The adage, “If you build it they will come” is a prescription for mediocrity and failure. You must go where your customers are and engage them on their territory and on their terms. Which is why it is important to have listened to the point of knowing and understanding where your customers (and others like them) hang out, what interested them, what they talk about, who the influencers are, etc…

Then you can formulate a plan for inserting your experience into the conversation, where doing so adds enough value that it creates customers – which we know to be the only goal of any business.


Provide the focus and platform for your own conversations (and their direction). Don’t try to control the conversations – because you simply can’t (there’s more of them than there are of you!) and you will come off as simply another ‘push’ marketer. Ask questions. Dig down into what your guests value and what values they consider most important when choosing whether or not to do business with you. Ask for feedback. Ask for references and testimonials that celebrate those common values that bind your community and allows your business to thrive in their presence. Nothing is more valuable than someone who influences others (trust) giving their community a sincere testimonial on your behalf.

What if you don’t have any communities around your brand or products & services? Simply create them. Whether through a forum on your existing website or even a completely separate one which allows for and encourages interaction, open and honest comments about your experience, etc…  And don’t forget the offline events and activities that can leverage and support real loyalty.


This is a powerful point. Not many brands today are as open and honest about the value they provide – most because they don’t understand it from their customers perspective. Mediocre brands focus internally, not externally.  They are not “community-centric.” And heaven forbid they encourage participation from their customers in refining and supporting their products and services.  So the first one to do so will win every time.

Say what you mean and do what you say. Communicate to a power of 10. Add “meaningfully differentiated value” at each and every touchpoint in your experience. Map out your entire customer experience from start to finish (is there a finish?) and look at each and every touchpoint and ask yourself how you can maximize the meaningfully differentiated value you offer.  You should also identify real opportunities to creatively add personalized value at the point(s) of engagement with each customer. Coach every employee on this every day.

Final Thoughts

Social Business is simple, it’s just not easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it right? It takes coordinated effort and strategic thinking to make it work seamlessly. Consumers reward businesses that create more social brands with both their heart and their wallet. So the question you need to ask yourself, is how are you creating a more social business? Now it’s my turn to listen to your thoughts. Leave a comment and further the discussion. It really is too important to ignore.


Jeffrey is a 30 year veteran of creating, operating, Coaching and consulting with successful restaurant & hotel concepts that include national, international, franchised and independent brands. He is also the president and founder of the Summers Hospitality Group a full-service, national and international, Restaurant & Hospitality Coaching and consulting firm based in Fort Worth, Texas.


P.S. If you aren’t already signed up and don’t want to miss out on  28 Days to Building Fierce Loyalty, please sign up here.

Digg This Save to Share on Facebook Tweet This Stumble This
  • Lizbeth Hamlin

    Ok, I especially am tuned into the engagement part of my psychotherapy practice. It is so important to truly be there for each person, not just be behind a mask or remote, but truly there. And in my marketing effort, I speak from experience and authenticlly. Reaching the tribe is always the work at hand and an ongoing process. Thanks for the insights!

    • Anonymous

      How can you use the kind of engagement you have with your clients in your marketing? (Don’t mind me – I’m always asking questions like that. 🙂 )

    • My pleasure. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  • I was thinking, “this is all about hospitality!” then I got to your by-line. Bravo, Jeffrey. …now if only simple were easy… ;o)

    • Anonymous

      When you figure out how to make simple easy, you will be a bajillionaire. 

      • Once you begin the process, like everything else in life, it gets a heckuva lot easier. Like a really necessary diet, it’s tough at first but once you see the results, it is definitely worth the effort.

        I think every business can use a lot more hospitality in it. How would it be to walk into JC Penney’s now and be greeted by a host, given a cold or hot beverage and told to make yourself at home??? Hmmmm.

        • Anonymous

          There is a mall I heard about in the upper midwest that has sort of a mancave hangout. Guys get free refreshments, watch tv and personal shoppers from all the stores come in the help them make purchases from their lazyboys. 🙂

          • There’s your model. Be available when and where people may need/want you – that’s a combination of virtual and bricks and mortar.

  • I’ve always thought the “Golden Rule” was short sighted. People want to be treated like THEY want to be treated which is not necessarily how I want to be treated. GAAH! Thanks for saying it so well! 🙂

    I think this: “So the question you need to ask yourself, is how are you creating a more social business? ” is a very tough question. 

    As an author, there’s a give and take. I must ask, listen, and receive, but I must also create. Sometimes, I feel like I err on one side or the other. Any ideas on how to walk edge of that knife?

    • Anonymous

      Claudia – do you have a place online where you readers can gather and talk not just to you but also to each other?

      • As a writer, having a forum where your readers can gather, share their stories and discuss ideas is extremely important. It helps to create a culture of engagement within your informal community. Once they get in the habit of talking to you and to each other, it’s just a matter of nurturing after that. Kinda like having friends in real life.  = )

        Don’t think of it as a knife’s edge, think of it as walking over a pool of chocolate. Even if you slip, it can be very good for you. Remember, we’re not talking about perfection, only success.

        • Anonymous

          Mmmmmm…chocolate makes everything sound better……

  • Hi Jeffrey,

    The line in your post that reaches out and touches me in a hospitable way would be:

    “You must go where your customers are and engage them on their territory and on their terms.”

    I take this a step to the side. I go where I love to go and there I meet folks that share a common love. I call it organic marketing and have talked/written about it to clients. We’re all there because this thing we have rallied around speaks to  us.

    I like to think of the client-customer relationship as being mutually beneficial – each of us being true to our organic nature. Otherwise, it’s going to feel phony to someone.

    Great thought piece. Thanks, G.

    • Couldn’t agree more with you! And you are more than welcome.

  • Blancolin

    I don’t run a business, but I often advise nonprofit arts groups. What do you consider the best ways to ask all those questions, find out about community values, acquire feedback? Survey Monkey? Paper surveys post performance? Informal chats at intermission might include targeted questions by the artists and producers?

    • Could be all of the above or none of the above or a combination of them. 

      The best ways are those that your audience tells you are best for them. It’s part of the listening stage. Simply ask them, “What’s the best way to get your feedback on some of the issues we face as a group?” Our experience for over 30 years has been that you get much better responses and much more insightful information when you take this first step. Our work with not-for-profits has provided the best insight of all since we find them more engaged in the work and more dedicated to the issues.

  • Thanks for the post Jeffrey! This definitely took me awhile to get through as I actually had to digest what I was reading. It’s so true that it’s important to go where your audience is and to have actual insight and interest in the area they are interested in. It’s nearly impossible to connect at any depth if all you have in common is exclusively your product. In my (limited) experience, digging deeper into their interest areas has also helped personal development in addition to community development. I love learning so it’s a win-win, really.

    • You are quite welcome. Glad to hear you didn’t experience any indigestion. = ) 

      You touched on a very important point. Not only is it important to connect for intellectual interests but emotional ones as well. Emotion is the glue in loyalty. Knowing how your experience makes people feel is critically important.

      “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

      Thanks for the comments! Super stuff.

      • Anonymous

        Knowing how your experience makes people feel is critically important. ***

  • Jeffrey:  This is a very thorough and interesting post. I’m not really sure what to contribute today but I feel it is quite relevant to where we are here at work as we continue to write blogs and wrestle with the question, “where is it exactly we are going in this social world?”  At least that’s what I see as challenges right now. 

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Appreciate the comments and kind words. I think it’s more tactical than that as I don’t believe in a social destination. I believe in the process of building better and deeper relationships, which  leads to greater insights and greater insights lead to better decisions, thereby helping us achieve the goal of better experiences.  This is the ongoing opportunity for both brands and people.

      • Anonymous

        Totally agree Jeffrey. Community is community whether online or off – and in fact I think offline communities are being sadly neglected these days to the peril of many businesses.

        • Agreed 1,000%. Virtual communities give you virtual trust and virtual loyalty. Real people give you real trust and real loyalty. The question(s) for your brand is what balance is necessary for success.

          • Thanks so much for the feedback. We do have real customers who are really very loyal.  I don’t believe we are neglecting them as we reach out into the virtual world to include them in our community. But it is good of you to point out that we have to pay full attention to both until we truly define the successful balance.

  • Niraj Popat

    Hey Jeffrey apologies but couldn’t agree with your statement, “You don’t treat others how you want to be treated, you treat them how they want to be treated.” I believe tht in order to serve our guests we need to experience the service being the guest..that is where we feel the difference between the likes & dislikes from the customers part.. other than that I enjoyed the blog thoroughly where the moral for me becomes.. “Become the fan follower of your Customer & u gain a desired respect.” & last but not the least its was too special for  me getting an oppurtunity today as I am a Hotelier too where Simplicity is just a complexity..I am overwhelmed with the learning today..

    • You’re in the same place, you just haven’t worked through the nuances yet.  = )

      Great to hear from someone in the biz! Thanks for commenting.

      • Niraj Popat

        Accepted..its an practical aspect of understanding the business..Thanks Jeffrey

  • Anonymous

    I’m loving how almost all of Jeffrey’s comments involve some sort of food reference. 🙂

    • The largest community of people is the one where everyone eats.  = )

      Good food is common ground for everyone.

      • Niraj Popat

        yes fore sure..even a recession can’t help growing food business..haha

  • This makes solid sense, thank you. I, too, have always been a fan of finding out how others would like to be treated before rushing into treating them as I might like. Talking up the ways you’re like someone else without acknowledging the differences as well turns people off, I think- they don’t feel fully seen, and they may even feel that they’ll be cut off from the camaraderie and belonging once it turns out that they really are different.

    What steps do you recommend in making a new forum feel like a place for community? There’s a big difference, emotionally, between “this is so-and-so’s blog, and sure, you can comment, but it’s mostly a broadcast medium” and “this is so-and-so’s blog, sure, but it’s great to talk with the whole community of folks here”. Any tips, especially for folks just getting things set up?

    • Couldn’t agree more. We tell people in our restaurants and hotels that we’ll treat them so many ways they’ll have to like some of them. = )

      Don’t just utilize the comment section from your blog but add a more interactive group forum that allows your community to develop, grow and engage on multiple levels by asking questions of the group, posting stories, video, pictures, etc…  that support the issues (and engagement) your group deals with.

      ..and your are very welcome.

      • For a very small business, it seems like hosting a separate forum (in addition to a blog and participating in other blogs and forums) might be overkill. What do you think- does it depend on scale?

        This blog, for instance, seems to do quite well at holding a community! One thing I notice that might be related is that guest posts seem fairly common in blogs which host an active community. My thought is that guest posts might make it feel less like one person’s private soapbox, and thus make it more comfortable for readers to throw in their own two cents.

        • It’s not overkill, it’s too much work. One thing about building your own community, you can’t spend that much time building someone else’s. Blog’s are great – I’m a fan of blogs. But a very lively forum is fun, hard work, rewarding, challenging – you know, just like having real friends. You also get the spontaneity you need to dig deeper into issues and questions. Plus, it’s a physical place to work from which is needed.

          If a blog and a forum is too much, I’d consider just utilizing the forum, which can house thought leadership articles and has all the functionality of a blog and then some.

  • Ava Diamond (@feistywoman)

    Thanks for this post, Jeffrey.  I love your perspective.  As a professional speaker and speaking mentor/coach, as I was reading your post, I was thinking that so much of this is true when you are on stage in front of an audience as well.  I see so many speakers that have their “canned” presentation, and do not get inside the minds and hearts of their audiences to craft something that would be of high value for them.

    What you have me pondering now is how I can engage members of my tribe in interacting with each other.  Sarah does this so masterfully.  I’m thinking about how I might approach that in my own business.

    • Thank you Ava!

      When I’m asked to speak to any business, depending on the size & scope of the organization, I will call or visit with as many stakeholders as possible – managers, staff, guests, vendors, even competing brands – in order to get the full story.  This not only amazes the group, that I was so familiar with their specific issues and their business, but it draws them in and gives me a vantage point from which to really deliver value that’s both accepted and acted upon. 

      There really is no better trust builder than, “Tell me about you!”

  • Kathryn Corey

    Great article.  You point out the essential importance of listening and responding genuinely – not just saying you’re going to do something, but actually doing it well and even going beyond espectation!

    • Thank you Kathryn!

      Ahhh…”exceeding expectations” That’s a whole big ball of wax. = )

      One of my favorite Henry Ford quotes is, “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”

  • I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and agreed with all the points you made so clearly.
    What I am not sure of, is how to relate them to persuade people to firstly purchase a fiction book (as yet unfinished), which will give them an insight to an illness they probably know little about. And then to encourage them to get others to buy the book because a percentage of the proceeds will be donated towards funds to help cure the disease.
    I think I may have set myself a rather tough challenge, but should have time to build some online connections while I finish the book. Any suggestions that might help would be appreciated.

    • Thank you Caro!

      Does the disease have a formal or informal community already that you can begin to “drip” the book to and engage with?

      Can you partner up with the/a charity for the disease and enlist them to help you “spread the word” about the book and it’s donation of sales aspect.

      Do you have a platform (Website, splash page, forum, etc…) to capture and engage those who seek out more information about your book with shared resources about the disease and it’s community?

      Lots to be done here.

      The only challenges worth pursing are the tough ones.

      • Thanks for the suggestions, was already thinking along those lines. It’s Cystic Fibrosis, so ties in with that and with organ transplants, so have two potential existing communities that could help.
        I haven’t got a platform yet, but am starting  to create one, but each day I discover there is yet another option available, you just threw in splash page, guess I’ll have to discover what they are.
        And there I was thinking that writing the book was the difficult bit!

        • Get some expert help. Doing all of this on your own is like trying to be the only cook in the kitchen of a very busy restaurant.

          I’m sure the local CF chapter’s (and others) have access to web help that you could probably tap into.

  • rmsorg

     Love it Jeffrey, from start to finish!  What a great way to help us understand that it truly is about them (our customers/followers/brand advocates) and when we are not customer-centric, we are truly just being a mediocre brand/company.. Great points and I love the “Say what you mean and do what you say” adage, great words to chew on for a while..


    • Thank you Rosemary!

      Just make sure you have your favorite beverage to wash it all down with. = )

      • rmsorg

         LOL.. Yes, definitely with my favorite beverage, which is water at this moment..

        Thanks for your response.

  • Colleenhannegan

    As a brick & mortar biz owner of 21+ yrs and now learning well, the art of social media/marketing/virtual friends….I am doing just as you say…reaching out and finding new clients where they are and sharing what we offer, in person, not on line. It’s weird to say at the least, getting used to how the buyer finds their fave places to purchase these days. I compete with on line eyewear purchases but my clients continue to buy and refer back to us because the in person experience of “hand holding” and an energetic postive exchange is still highly valued in my clients. But I am once again, meeting up with local biz owners sharing the ‘glow’ of social media nd how to care for MORE in store clients through this new way of BEING in here still ( a B&M retailer). Did that make sense?? 🙂
    Thanks for your article today.

    • Appreciate that Colleen!

      It’s not weird – it’s just not your momma’s marketing anymore. One of the points I made earlier involved trying to find a balance between the offline-online worlds in order to create success. Seems you have struck the right balance for you at this time. Just don’t forget that this isn’t a static endeavor. It’s fluid and will change with new technologies and new perspectives and quite probably, new success.

  • Anonymous

    The first thing that jumped out at me is how you’re asking us to ask questions & then ask more questions & then again ask some more.  And the 1st question isn’t going to be- do you want to work with me?

    I guess we take it for granted sometimes how intelligent our target markets, potential clients & employees are so much so that we forget to ask them what they want & what they need.  This is really another eye-opener for me, amongst many others.  Do I ask enough questions? Do I really attempt to delve deeper into what is really needed or wanted?  But then again, is there ever really an end to the questions that I should be asking?

    The second thing that jumped out at me is the building of a community.  This is where I’m a little fuzzy & partly the reason why this 28 days to Building Fierce Loyalty struck such a strong nerve in me.  How do I create that community?  

    I’ll be simmering on these thoughts but what is really sticking with me is building a customer experience.  I can see & feel that 100%.  My customers & potential customers want to feel a certain way, my job is to create an experience for them that recreates that feeling & helps them to go there over & over again in the most real & lovely way.

    • Great points Annette and thank you.

      I’m always asking questions. How did you do that? How did you get that to work like that? What are you doing?  Why? Why? Why?, etc… It’s the foundation of all learning – and drives my wife crazy.  Mediocre people stop asking questions when they feel they have achieved a sufficient level of success. The renegade (think Steve Jobs, Alexander Graham Bell, You and me! ) never stops. As long as there’s another reaction, there is another question.

      I don’t think markets are intelligent per se, after all, you should be the expert in your business, of your business.  In fact, most of the time, markets usually only know what they don’t want. The market never wanted an automobile, they just wanted to get from one place to another a lot easier and quicker. Markets didn’t demand the iPhone but they did want to be able to communicate and enjoy the multimedia elements of modern technology in a casual, hip and less bulky way. On and on and on…

      We have to remember that people buy everything on emotion. Tapping into those emotions (values) through designing and engineering their experience is crucial.

      One of the biggest questions is always, ” should you create a community or join an existing one?” That depends on what’s available and how much value you have to offer – or want to create.

      The easiest way to think about building a community is to remember that if you have an existing business, your current customers are your informal community. The priority would be to organize them into a more formal group that derives value from being a part of it.  If you have a brand new business, you should engineer your experience toward adding them as you gain them as customers  – using your community to deepen their loyalty and support their doing business with you over the long term.

      Super comment.

  • Sharon E. Greene

    Well, I must say, I was a little taken aback by Jeffrey’s observation that “the Golden Rule no longer applies!” but I appreciate the logic behind it. If we can’t identify where our clients are and what they need and how we can meet that need, it doesn’t matter what needs WE have that we think others need. If we are to be of service, in the deepest sense, we must listen and find THEIR core desire – and work from where they are to where they want/need to be. And to be realistic about their and our own capacities to get them from Point A to Point B. I laughed when Jeffrey quoted, “If you build it, they will come” and noted that this leads to mediocrity and failure.” I couldn’t agree more strongly! As a proposal writer and editor, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had conversations with faculty, department chairpeople, and – god forbid – college presidents who believe that if XWZ Foundation will only give them the money for a new program, they’ll be successful! Nothing could be further from the truth, unless they’ve invested the time, intellect and money to do basic research about the community’s needs and know that they have a solid core of people/students who need their proposed program. Which circles back to what Jeffrey and others have said here: we can’t assume that we know what our client base wants from us until we engage them on a personal level – and find out. Thanks for a great post. As you can see, this struck me on several levels.

    • Amen Sister Sharon! Well said. Thank you.

      Love the passion!

  • So true about mediocre business who think if they build it customers will come. Brand association is key and is built externally not internally as some many organisations believe.

    • One need look no further than the restaurant industry to see the prime example of this. 24% of restaurants go out of business in their 1st year – which climbs to nearly 77% by year three. When a client calls to ask my help in opening yet another restaurant, I always ask why? Because the world really doesn’t need another burger joint. “What’s makes you so special that people will break down doors and drive by 24 other places which are cheaper and more refined, to get one of yours?”

      Appreciate the comment Catherine!

  • Sarah Trevor

    “Look at each and every touchpoint and ask yourself how you can maximize
    the meaningfully differentiated value you offer.  You should also
    identify real opportunities to creatively add personalized value at the
    point(s) of engagement with each customer. Coach every employee on this
    every day.”

    How important this is.  How these words apply to marketing artwork  from an internet site I’m going to have to mull…  Accuracy of reproduction on the website; packaging; speed of delivery; artist info – perhaps a personal letter accompanying the artwork.

    • I like it…keep going! It helps to put this on paper or a white board and play with it. Can you add services that you wouldn’t normally offer? Insurance? Maintenance? Sales assistance if they should want to part with it? Ongoing contact & information sharing?

      Now what happens before the sale?

  • Hello Jeffrey, thank you for the wonderful insights. You’re correct…the focus needs to be all about the “entire customer experience.” Sadly, so many the companies I interact with miss that point completely. They talk like they understand it, but their execution is flawed. Some have a very well defined marketing proposition (logic) but fail to deliver on the human interaction aspect (emotional). For example, locally I have a choice between Home Depot and Lowe’s for my home improvement products. Usually I will give my business to Lowe’s. Why? Because the rest rooms at my local Home Depot are always filthy! Quite often I am shopping with my young daughters, and Lowe’s gets the thousands of dollars I spend each year on home improvement purchases primarily because their rest room is cleaner for my family. Home Depot spends millions on marketing strategies and implementation, yet no one every cleans the bathroom!

    Everything needs to focus first on the customer, the life blood of any business, organization, or tribe. A radical shift for many of the well established “brand arrogant” companies living off of their unaided brand awareness statistical data. The real opportunity resides in seeing things the way the consumer sees things and working backwards from there, building systems and infrastructure that revolve around the enhancing their entire customer experience.

    I greatly appreciate your contribution to this series!  

    • I hear you Peter!

      “Those who live by the transaction, shall perish by the transaction.”

      Appreciate the comment and the illuminating story!

  • Wow! The horror stores I could tell about this topic with companies I have worked with and for in the past. So true about the “Golden Rule” now days. While it is still a good moral concept, in todays market and social climate it really can come across as self-centered and egotistical. It’s ALL about the consumer/listener/buyer.

    Very, VERY few companies are able to come out with a product/service and TELL the population they need their product and we listen (AKA Apple… as I write this on my MacBook, with my iPhone at myside).Thanks for putting it out there is this format Jeffery!

    • That’s because most companies are not creating products/services good enough for us to pay attention to. Commodity products & services get commodity attention.

      You are very welcome Doug. Thanks for sharing your comments!

  • Anonymous

    Very Good comments.  I have seen the shift in the hospitality industry myself over the years  working directly in the industry and now with the industry.  It has been small shifts that I think most people are missing and that You don’t treat others how you want to be treated, you treat them how they want to be treated.  It is I agree a Huge difference, that most of miss.  Coming from that industry I also know how expensive it is to attract a new as compared to keep an existing customer coming back.  Some really great insights or should I say great “Food for Thought”.

  • Hello Jeffrey and thank you for this post. Definitely gave me some things to think about…