Who, outside of his wife in the movie Jerry Maguire, knew Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character, Rod Tidwell, was so prophetic when he said, “some dudes may have the coin, but they’ll never have the quan.”

What is the “quan,” you ask?   It’s the highest level of love, respect and admiration from your peers.   Tidwell was suggesting that a lot of athletes obtain the “coin” (aka high paying contract) but very few combine ”coin” with “quan”.   To put in real world terms, Kevin Kolb just got the “coin,” but he doesn’t have Tom Brady’s “quan.”   Same with the next American idol champion, they’ll get paid, but it’s unlikely they’ll ascend to Beyonce “quan” territory.

Today’s business world is no different.  New and emerging companies can generate the “coin” with a solid business plan, valuable product/service offering, and quality customer service.   But it’s one thing, and one thing only, that can produce the “quan” and long-term sustainability –targeted social marketing programs that effectively engage their target customers.

Here are a few companies with “quan” that Rod Tidwell would envy:

1) Zappos: Their fans essentially run their social media campaigns for them.   They’ve created widgets for fans to share their experiences publically.   They inspire potential customers by treating them like current customers with their “like like relationship” Facebook effort.  They offer up unique and useful content to consumers who become fans, like fashion choices for their top selling products.   Quite simply, their fans/customers are the stars.

2) Ford Motor Company: They’ve done an excellent job combining their social and traditional marketing efforts.   Their new TV commercials spotlight customers who provide honest feedback in impromptu, mock interviews.   Their website features customer feedback on their blog as the primary content.   They pay attention to the videos and stories their customers submit and integrate common concerns/suggestions into future vehicles.  It works because they have truly given their customers an impactful voice.

3) Cranium (by Hasbro): They bring their game to players via social media.   They post captivating and thought-provoking factoids on Facebook to which their fans respond.  They’ve developed a quiz app that allows people to determine which Cranium character they’re most like.  They also use video to allow people to play the game online.   It’s working because they’re bringing the game’s value to their fans online.

Today’s companies don’t get the “quan” writing a massive check to a marketing agency and simply turning over the reins Mad-Men style.   They achieve “quan” status by knowing their fans and executing strategies that get them involved.   Make them stars, apply they’re good advice, get them in the game online…

All in all – Tidwell got it right.   Great companies with all-star leaders make the “coin.”   Effective marketing campaigns that create all-star fan bases generate the “quan” and, ultimately, long-term sustainability.

Does your company have the “quan?”   What will it take to get you there?