Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Mobilizing Advocates Online to Drive Dramatic Growth"

Copyright, Zuberance, Inc., 2007

Nearly every company has a cadre of "Advocates" -- highly influential customers and other VIPs who are very willing to freely and pro-actively evangelize your company, product, service, brand, or even an idea or cause to family members, friends, colleagues, and millions online. Advocates are your most valuable constituency and a "Volunteer Salesforce" that -- properly orchestrated -- will:

  • Generate thousands of highly qualified sales leads (customer evangelists generate more than 85% of qualified sales leads, Bain & Co. says)
  • Grow your revenues up to 4X faster than competitors, according to the London School of Economics
  • Defend you from your detractors, proven to detract from growth

Goal of All Marketing: Advocacy

Authentic advocacy is the goal for all marketing. Not awareness. Not customer satisfaction. Not even loyalty, if that term even exists any longer in a world of disposable brands and relationships.

If you can create a thriving community of people who are willing to freely and pro-actively advocate you, your product, your company to receptive audiences, you will be very successful.

Of course, advocacy is easier to create when you have a cool product like an iPod that people naturally want to tell others about. But you don't need to have a sexy new MP3 player to benefit from advocacy. In fact, nearly every company including B2B firms and yes, even small unknown software companies, can benefit from advocacy. Put simply, there are two keys to advocacy:

  1. Create an experience that your customers, partners, and others want to evangelize (We call this "organic advocacy.") This is the foundation for advocacy.
  2. Enable your advocates to share their enthusiasm for your company or product by making it easy for them to tell others. This requires a systematic approach to advocacy. And, please, do not even think about paying your advocates. Real advocacy cannot be manufactured or faked. It can only be earned.

Needed: A Systematic Approach

For years, marketers have been aware of the value of activating their word of mouth (WOM) advocates. What's been missing is a systematic approach to mobilizing advocates that enables marketers to find advocates, mobilize them, and reliably track the business results of advoacy. This is exactly the breakthrough marketing and idea that Zuberance provides. We've created a methodology and set of on-demand software services that enable marketers to:

  1. Identify and qualify your advocates
  2. Mobilize your advocates
  3. Track the business results of advocacy

1. Identify and Qualify Your Advocates

Net Promoter (R) surveys are a way to start identifying and qualifying your advocates. Co-created by our business partner Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and loyalty guru Fred Reichheld, Net Promoter asks the "ultimate customer loyalty question": On a scale of 0-10, how likely would you be to be recommend our (company, product, service, brand) to others? "Promoters" rate themselves 9 or 10 (extremely likely to recommend) while "Detractors" rate themselves 0-6. The percentage difference between Promoters and Detractors is your Net Promoter Score (P-D=NPS.) Visit www.netpromoter.com for more info. While Net Promoter is a simple and powerful metric, not all Promoters are equal. Some Promoters have greater influence than others over purchase decisions and perceptions and are more willing to pro-actively influence others. So you need to go beyond a Net Promoter survey to identify and qualify your advocates. The Zuberance software product identifies and qualifies your advocates for you, integrating survey techniques, web analytics, and data analysis.

2. Mobilize Your Advocates

By now, everyone is familiar with "Tell A Friend" forms and referral programs that pay or provide perks for referring prospects. As my teenage daughter would say (now say this with a teenage smerk on your face:) "Dad, that is soooo lame." If you are a high tech or B2B marketer, you also know how difficult it is to get customers to approve case studies. (I was reminded of this when I watched a marketing manager break down in tears of frustration on a recent Friday afternoon. After we talked her back in from the ledge, we assured her it wasn't her fault that she couldn't get a case study approved. ) Many B2B customers are simply unwilling or unable to participate in these testimonials. It's time for a more creative approach: link your pre-qualified advocates with prospects and others online in opt-in, permission-based dialogues that occur where, when, and how advocates and prospects want to have these conversations. The Zuberance system does this automatically and matches relevant advocates with audiences. ("We call this Match.Com meets WOM Marketing.")

3. Track Business Results

2-4-6-8, what do we advocate? Metrics! Metrics! Metrics! (We just love to crunch that data.) Word of Mouth metrics. That's the "Holy Grail of Marketing," isn't it? Or is the Holy Grail finding a hotel room in Manhattan with hot water and no carpet stains for under $600 a night? Anyway, here's how we track the business results of advocacy. When someone registers as an advocate on the Zuberance system, we track their advocacy activities (number of posts, number of interactions, number of leads generated, number of leads closed.) We also give you loads of community metrics (size, number, activities, influence, advocacy scores, etc.) all in a customizable dashboard with widgets. It's kind of like strapping an EKG to your advocates. Spooky, eh? No, it's metrics. And we love metrics.

If you're not mobilizing your advocates, you're not taking advantage of the world's most effective and inexpensive form of marketing. Creating and implemented a systematic approach to advocacy will fuel your growth and enhance your competitive advantage. So what are you waiting for?


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