Metaphors and stories are powerful things - far better than numbers at showing how powerful human interactions can be and how much they impact the world at large - or sometimes in the small.
When it comes to Social CRM, one thing that we've been saying over and over is that Gen Y drove the changes but they aren't exclusive to their effects or use. In fact, the generation that follows Gen Y is even more savvy than the echo boomers themselves. They are multitaskers who didn't know a day without the Internet or a computer - not a single day.
So, due to an extraordinary circumstance and Facebook, I'm going to let one of these younger-than-Yers tell you a story about something he did.
This is Rio Bowerman, folks. Rio is the son of Elissa Amoroso Bowerman who was a neighbor of mine when we grew up as kids in East Meadow NY. Due to Facebook and fortuitous circumstance, I had the opportunity to meet with Elissa and hang out with her for awhile when I was at the Gartner Summit in Scottsdale a few months ago. In the course of this lovely hour or so, I got the chance to meet her son Rio who has quite a history already though he's only 18. He was Chef Rio and on national TV from the ages of 11-13. You can see him on YouTube right here with his appearance on Bonnie Hunt's show when he was 16 to get an idea of how precociously bright he really is.
But aside from my personal affection for him, he is someone who not only gets what's going on out there and at 18 has applied it to business, but he reflects what all us pundit types have been saying for a long time now - this is something that the younger gens not only use, they live it.
Rio's story starts with DECA which stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America (Delta Epsilon Chi). He is the Chapter President for the State of Arizona and has had the chapter competing in marketing competitions for about 3 years on every level from state to international. Usually, his results are stellar - from 1st to 3rd in most of the competitions.
But all that competing takes funds and Arizona's DECA chapter seems to be consistent in trying to make their own $$$. So how do they do it? Listen to this story straight from Rio.
First, Let me introduce my self. My name is Rio Bowerman. I'm an 18 year old Senior attending Chaparral High School in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona and I have the challenge and thrill of being president of Chaparrals' DECA chapter.
What is DECA? That question is asked over and over. Technically DECA translates to Delta Epsilon Chi originally "Distributive educational Club Of America". DECA just happens to be the largest student organization which far exceeds the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the FFA. DECA is jam packed nationally and internationally, with highly motivated business and marketing students. Major competitions noted on our yearly calendar, and only the strong and brilliant survive to move on to the next level.
Now let me tell you about the real Meat and Potatoes... My school store (its something like a convenience store on campus). We were gifted the honor of having a $750,000 flagship student store, from the Scottsdale Unified School District. They were engaging on a huge High School campus renovation campaign, and our school was considered the perfect candidate. Keep in mind that prior to this Flagship opportunity, we were selling Arizona Iced Tea's and Energy drinks out of a literal "hole" (made) in the wall of our marketing classroom. But now we use our near 100k/Year business to bankroll all of our competitions, lodging, entry fee's, food, seminars, entertaining/schmoozing (other chapters and administrators) and all of the other fun endeavors we enjoy and have become ever so accustomed to.
Here's how we did it...and made it a success… We decided to try some form of social networking (A.K.A FaceBook). The time it took to set up a Chaparral DECA Fan Page on FaceBook, took no time at all and cost us not one single penny... The one and only investment was our time! FaceBook provides students with information on our store's menu, pricing, discount coupons, Chapter information, and the schedule for Chapter meetings… All actively and socially engaging our customers. Reaching members of the Chaparral network (approx.4,500 students ) we quickly adopted well over 200 followers subscribing on their own (from our school) with sales doubling within the first 3 days.…
No joke! (Talk about one hell of an ROI)!!
The second phase in conjunction with our FaceBook, based our promotional mix, was to execute a mass SMS blanket of the Chaparral students. We did this by taking all the marketing/business students and having them send out a mass TXT saying something like "25% off in the student store with tons of new products. Stop by today at lunch". From that point…(once the inaugural message was sent,) students came running in the store, holding there phones as if they contained some golden ticket... and for us...the mass SMS was our golden ticket...that simple TXT held the power for that "One Day Only" discount coupon. Between establishing a FaceBook, and getting the SMS campaign off the ground we had created a HUGE promotional campaign tailored directly to the student body.
Allow me to reiterate: The best part of this success is the fact that neither of these INCREDIBLE avenues of social networking cost us not one cent! Ever since then we've had more business then we can shake a stick at… our business increased by 52% from $250/Day to $450/day (not bad for a few kids selling snacks during two 40 minute long lunch's) Coincidence… I think not.
There you have it. Simple and straightforward. This is something that is part of the genetic code and the brain cells of generations coming up behind us. Granted, Rio is a bit on the exceptional side. But he's not the only one doing this. This is what the revolution in communications, the social revolution that led to the customer ecosystem, spawned. And we're the luckier for it. But pay attention Kids are already starting to conduct their businesses this way. Question is, are you?