In the article, Bill Pfleging, co-author of Geek Gap (Promethius Books 2006) and a speaker on the topic of business and technology cited the Seymour Duncan Forum as his favorite example, “of a business that has created a ‘community’ using its online forum…Since launching its forum in 1996, Seymour Duncan’s Forum members have been instructing one another in new ways of wiring pickups to change how they sound, and they also give advice on topics ranging from simple to complex. This not only relieves the company’s support centers by having customers answer questions for other customers, it also gives their client base a real sense of ownership, cementing their relationship to the company and its products.
According to Evan Skopp, who has managed the Seymour Duncan Forum from its launch to present day, “We weren’t the first forum. But we were one of the first company-sponsored forums where members were free to talk positively about our competitors’ products or talk critically about our products without those posts being censored. In the early days of web forums, that was unusual. We knew our products stood on their own against the competition; and if we were too afraid to let people talk about them honestly and publicly, then we had bigger problems on our hands.”
The Seymour Duncan Forum has grown to become one of the most active guitar gear forums with over 22,000 members. It’s moderated by six administrators in various time zones worldwide and it offers 24 hour, real-time tech support including advice on which pickup models to purchase and how to wire them into guitars. The Forum activity is largely responsible for seymourduncan.com’s extremely positive Alexa ranking, which lists it as the most trafficked website for guitar accessories.
Skopp continues, “The funny thing is nowadays, if a customer purchases one of our competitors’ pickups and they’re having problems installing it, the quickest answer to their tech questions is likely to be the Seymour Duncan Forum. So, in a way, we’ve helped our competition. However, when that same customer is about to purchase their next pickup, they’re going to think about who helped them in the past and they’re going to remember Seymour Duncan.”
In the last year, the Forum has hosted live Q&A sessions with guitar legends Dave Mustaine and Yngwie Malmsteen, and luthiers like Jol Dantzig, Fender’s Mike Eldred, Rick Turner and many others. In 2005, Seymour Duncan hosted a “User Group Day” in which 60 Forum members descended on the company’s Santa Barbara headquarters for a day of factory tours, winding pickups, camaraderie, food and, of course, music. According to CEO Cathy Carter Duncan, “We’re going to plan something similar in the near future for the company’s 35th anniversary.”
Santa Barbara-based Seymour Duncan is the world’s leading manufacturer of pickups for musical instruments. The company recently launched a line of stompboxes. For more information about Seymour Duncan and its Forum, visit www.seymourduncan.com. For more information about the Inc. magazine article, visit www.inc.com/guides/2010/04/using-online-forums.html.
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