Brand advocacy and my lawnmower

Most have what I refer to as a favorite “toy” (cars, boats, power tools, those lucky few with airplanes, motorcycles, etc.). This toy is the one thing you had to have, love to show off, and must talk about. For me, I love my lawn mower.  This is a man/machine love all the way.  Many of you get what I’m saying without explanation (all you John Deere fans), but for those that don’t, I’ll provide a little more detail.

My mower came to me from a friend, who I would describe as a car guy, who replaced the mower with a newer model. I referred to my old mower as the “Ferrari of Lawn Mowers,” although my sons did not agree. After consistent, tender loving care it would soldier on for 23 years. I witnessed its demise, and since there was no hope in repairing it due to the age and hours on the motor, it was time to go shopping.

I consulted many trusted sources like Consumer Reports, read online reviews, and talked to friends and family.  After weeding through all my options, I finally found want I wanted! Less than $200 later, I was the proud owner of my new mower.

Of course, I had to try it out immediately. It started on the first pull.  It weighed seemingly half of my old mower.  The wheels easily adjusted. It was everything the brand promised and more. I was totally happy with my new “Ferrari.”

As a new brand advocate, I wanted to let all those out there know about this amazing lawnmower. Unfortunately, the manufacturer did not have any way for a customer to provide a customer review on their web site.  Companies, just like this one, can create greater brand awareness by simply asking customers to write reviews and testimonials, and refer friends (who knows once someone sees your new toy they may want one of their own). A recent study from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, found that online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising.

Why wouldn’t every company ask their customers to write reviews? It just makes sense.  It’s also free marketing and advertising of the most trusted kind. 

 

Brand advocates: 3 profiles

If most companies today took a sample of 200 of their customers, it’s probable that at least 10-20% percent of those customers would already be considered brand advocates. BUT, this pool of people has a lot of different swimmers in it, and it’s important that companies know who they are.

Let me give you an overview.  These people probably sound pretty familiar to you already…

Advocate Type #1 : Jack Spendal.

Jack is what we would call an uber-connecter.  As a child, Jack was one of those kids who you really wanted to be friends with regardless of your gender, race, ethnicity or personality.  Everyone knows a “Jack” (and probably knows him through some sort of ‘6 degrees of Jack Spendal separation’). It takes twice as long to get to your destination when accompanied by Jack because he is constantly running into people he knows, and he loves to talk about anything with them (work, clothes, sports etc).  One of Jack’s favorite topics is great deals…especially when there are incentives involved for both him and his friends.  Jack doesn’t just limit his interactions to run-ins on the street; he likes to connect with friends via social media, text, email and any other form of communication.  Even though Jack might be annoying to some, but he makes a pretty awesome brand advocate.

Advocate #2 : Kara Kowalski

Now, Kara is what we call a rave reviewer.  As a child, Kara was that classmate who took 2 hours to fill out the teacher evaluation at the end of the year.  Unlike Jack, Kara doesn’t like to refer deals to her friends, especially if she happens to be getting something out of it.  Kara is the first person to write a thorough review about all the good and bad experiences she has had on sites such as Yelp, Consumer Reports, Twitter, and even a company’s Facebook fan page.  For example, Kara recently went to a new restaurant that opened up in her home town.  She had heard positive and negative things about this place but wanted to check it out on her own; she even brought her iPad along to take some notes.  At first, the menu seemed a lot different than what she was used to, but she tried to keep an open mind.  By the end of the meal Kara was raving about this restaurant.  The food was unique but tasty, and the service was impeccable.  As soon as she got home, she started writing reviews on her favorite social media sites.  Since a lot of people were used to seeing and following Kara’s reviews, which were often more negative than positive, they were very interested in checking out the new restaurant that Kara actually
liked!

Advocate #3: James Jandeliker

James, on the other hand, is what we call a rapid re-poster.  As a child, James was that kid who would let you play with his new toy before he’d even had a turn.  As James grew older and technology was advancing, he began to realize all the different ways he could share cool things with his network.  As an intern for GQ Magazine, James came across a lot of new styles of clothing and technology.  His 2,000 Facebook friends and 10,000 Twitter followers were the (sometimes unwilling) recipients of every worthy re-post of an article, video, song or link James found interesting.

While every one of these types can give your brand a brand advocacy boost, the point is that you need to know them.  You need to integrate a technology that makes it possible for you to know who your brand advocates are, where they talk about you, and what will make them talk even more.  And then you need to nurture your relationship with them by thanking them for what they do and providing motivation for them to do more.  They’re as unique as your products, and they can make or break your brand, so take the time to get to know all your Jacks, Karas and James’.

Amplifinity’s Infographic: Brand advocacy marketing

Amplifinity’s new infographic shows that brand advocacy marketing is more powerful than ever.  The numbers alone are proof that there is word of mouth happening in the social world that, when harnessed and amplified, quickly becomes a force to reckon with.  Amplifinity would be interested in hearing how your company’s brand advocates work for you.  How are they better than any “paid” advertising you can buy?

Infographic 7 5 12

 

Our WOMM-U takeways

Three people from our Amplifinity team attended last week’s WOMM-U conference.  Here, Marketing Director Molly McFarland highlights some of the key takeaways.

WOMMA

Last week at the WOMM-U conference in Chicago, hundreds of marketers from across the country converged to teach, learn and discuss what is happening in the world in Word of Mouth marketing. The conference was full of case studies, insights, and forecasts of what’s to come.  Here are some themes that caught my attention:

Disrupting Schemas
Steve Knox, Boston Consulting Group, presented the opening keynote. He emphasized that the way to spark word of mouth is to disrupt previously accepted schemas. Basically, people talk when their expectations are disrupted, positively or negatively.  When marketers can disrupt schemas in a positive or exciting way around their brand, they can get people talking.

The Funnel Purchasing Funnel Should End in Advocacy, Not Purchase
This one is from Steve Knox, too (who gave a great presentation). The traditional sales funnel has been flipped. Progressive companies have started realizing that their marketing efforts should be focused on building relationships with the advocates amongst their customers instead of trying to reach new constomers. In this model, marketers kill two birds with one stone.  By building relationships with advocates, they generate authentic Word of Mouth activity, which is highly effective for bringing in new customers.

Face to Face is Not Dead
Ed Keller and Brad Fay of The Keller Fay Group focused on a theme that was present across the entire conference: Despite the amazing popularity and user adoption of all these digital and social networks, most Word of Mouth occurs during a face to face interaction. As marketers, we must remember this from strategy to measurement.

What do People Share?
Paul Adams of Facebook discussed the psychology behind what people share on Facebook, and he shed light on why people share differently than some marketers like to think. Most marketers dream about how their campaigns are going to spark a flurry of social media activity around their brand – that their campaign will get consumers to say things like “Brand XYZ is the best brand I have ever tried. It’s A, B and C features are so much better than its competitors’ and I recommend it to everyone”. But that’s quite simply not how people share. People talk about feelings, not facts, when sharing with their friends and get to know each other through “many light-weight interactions over time.”

Measurement is Everything
Throughout the conference, brands and agencies alike discussed the importance of measuring and tracking Word of Mouth. Without the ability to track and measure Word of Mouth, organizations will not be able to translate an ROI, which is a vital number.