Black Star Beer’s Commitment to Conversation

In my colleague, Joseph Jaffe’s, second book is titled Join the Conversation, he talks about he importance of a concept called, “commitment to conversation.” You can probably guess what this means but just in case your like me and need things spelled out for you, the concept is directed toward businesses and strongly encourages them to not just join a conversation but to maintain and follow up on conversations with key stakeholders.

Glenn Banton touched on this concept of commitment to conversation in a recent post on practical uses for geolocation services. One of the examples he cited was a missed a local coffee shop’s missed opportunity when I checked into a Starbucks across the street. Upon being invited to try their coffee instead, I  responded that if they could promise me a great tasting Americano (my drink of choice) and a 10% discount (the same discount Starbucks provided via their gold card at the time). Instead of continuing the conversation with me and potentially winning me and maybe a few of my 14,000 Twitter followers, they went dark. Why? We’ll never know. But it was a bad move on their part.

So what does this all have to do with Black Star Beer? I’ll tell you. To start with, they are the polar opposite of the aforementioned local coffee shop. The conversation started a couple of months ago when they invited me to head on over to their Facebook page to participate in a very cool, experiential contest they were running. While I didn’t win the contest, I was impressed enough with their contest (and follow through) to mention them in a follow up post on the value of a Facebook fan. In the post, I used Black Star Beer as an example of a company that engaged their customers and prospects through a thoughtful and clever contest.

Following my write up, I got an nice “thank you” e-mail that was accompanied by an offer to send along a press kit. Intrigued by what a press kit from a beer company might entail, I bit. What arrived was a nicely designed box with a can and bottle of a new beer they were launching in LA, the double-hopped golden larger, a CD with several videos (I included one of them which shows their new brewery in action below) and a dozen beautiful product shots. There was also a press release but most importantly, a hand-written post it note.

Rumor has it that the beer was good but the moral of the story here is that through Black Star’s commitment to conversation with me, they’ve received several mentions in my blog, on Facebook and on Twitter… an most importantly, a dedicated blog post patting them on the back for their good deeds. You know how much this cost them? $10-15 in shipping costs and then whatever amount of time their PR/social media person, Charlotte Robertson, invested in listening and responding. While I’m sure Charlotte doesn’t come cheap, I’m equally convinced that I’m not the only blogger/journalist that she’s reaching out to. And the result is not only earned media which does have a value attached to it but hopefully hundreds if not thousands of new customers (or more satisfied existing customers) thanks to others like me.

Is your company making a commitment to conversation? If it isn’t, maybe it’s time you take a closer look at what Black Star Beer is doing. Or give my company a call. We’ll be happy to share everything we know.