Amplifinity's Marketing Director, Theresa Trevor, blogs about the facts and fiction of Brand Advocacy.
Originally published on Wired.com Innovation Insights January 16, 2014
No marketer, brand manager, marketing automation professional or even an advocacy marketing exec would look you in the eye and tell you that they’ve got a no-fail brand advocacy marketing strategy. The development of brand advocacy marketing is still in its infancy, though there is a set of variables generally agreed upon as necessary for success. If marketing was foolproof, Coca Cola would never have spent millions to market New Coke back in the 80s. Walgreens would have immediately rejected the offer to carry Barack Obama Chia Pets on its shelves.
That doesn’t mean that brand advocacy is a precarious use of your time and budget. Far from it. In fact, brand advocacy programs are generating huge ROI and delivering measurable results that far exceed results from traditional marketing initiatives. More importantly, the data that results from running a skillfully developed and implemented advocacy program can shape future marketing efforts in a targeted way that wasn’t possible until now.
So what do we know about brand advocacy?
Brand Advocacy: True or False?
1) A brand should know who their brand advocates are, and to what degree they will advocate on a brand’s behalf before running a brand advocacy program.
Surveys and scores based on a set of variable criteria determined prior to implementing a brand advocacy program are not the best indicators of program success.
Even formulas developed with scientific precision that purportedly reveal who among a brand’s customers will more than likely advocate on its behalf? There are quite simply too many deviations and factors to consider that make such formulaic approaches highly effective at the onset of a program.
The truth is, a brand will miss out on major opportunities to activate hundreds, even thousands of customers who happened to tell you that on a scale of 1-5, they’d recommend your brand only “sometimes.”
Further, it is often the initially uninspired customer who will turn around and become your most passionate advocate when properly motivated or nurtured.
2) Incentives are an effective and profitable way for a brand to nurture its brand advocates and encourage future advocacy.
Whether you’re a lab rat or a consumer, rewards drive fairly predictable behaviors. The truth? If they like, love or are loyal to a brand, consumers will advocate on its behalf, and will appreciate the brand’s token of gratitude when they take time out of their busy schedule to do it.
Have you ever recommended your hair stylist to a friend and, in return, received a reward for a free trim for yourself and your friend next time you both set up an appointment? Did you feel it was a gratuitous reward for what you’d have done regardless of the free haircut? Probably not.
Ever been asked to refer a friend to the same bank you left a few months ago because of its horrible customer service? Did you refer your friends anyways, just for the $100 reward the bank was offering? Your enemies maybe, but probably not your friends. No reward can motivate most customers to refer a friend to a brand that the customer doesn’t actually like.
3) When running a referral program for the first time, if a customer does not respond to your initial request for a referral, the customer should be eliminated from the second wave of the program.
People are busy. And when they’re really busy, they probably won’t respond to your brand’s referral request. But, as life typically goes, those same busy people eventually become less busy at some point. Sometimes the very people who seemingly snub you the first go-round, become passionate and proactive advocates the next go-round. Happens all the time.
The truth is, if your customers or employees or partners really like what you do, they will happily help out your brand. You’ve just got to ask them at the right time and place – and sometimes it takes asking more than once.
Theresa Trevor is the Marketing Director at Amplifinity.
A Guest Post from Amplifinity Intern, Logan Risser
“Would I retweet that?” This simple question should be the driving force behind your influence in the social media market. Ensure your social media content is worth sharing and not just another product ad or shameless plug. As a society we are inundated with advertisements throughout most of our waking hours. According to the BBC, 72% of Americans find banner ads on their phones to be annoying. Instead of adding to that pile, give people something they will appreciate. Create content that is informative and valuable, such as insight from inside your industry or tips and tricks you have learned throughout your work life. You have a platform; use that to provide something useful and not to boast about your products. Show what your business brings to the table in a unique and engaging way that will encourage conversation. Engage in productive conversations with industry leaders in your field. Twitter and other social media sites are the perfect way to connect with not only customers but also industry leaders and specialists.
According to Altimeter Group, 78% of businesses have a dedicated social media team. Do not let those figures intimidate, but rather encourage you. Social media is a powerful tool and it’s rapidly growing.
Amplifinity's CEO and Founder, Richard Beedon, blogs about the evolution of sales best practices for large brands.
Originally published in iMedia Connection, April 2, 2014
There seems to be a consensus that referrals are the best form of leads. They close faster, buy more and stay longer. Exceptional sales people have been generating referrals for what seems like forever.
Until recently, large corporations have struggled to figure out how to scale the success of individual sales reps to systematically and proactively drive large volumes of referrals. But that is all changing as technology is now coming to market that can help large brands automate the best practices of sales reps and institutionalize the process of generating referrals from customers, employees and other people who influence the buying decision.
Good technology systems typically are designed to automate manual best practices. Let’s take a look at key functions that great sales people all tend to have in common:
They build referral channels. The majority of salespeople are excellent networkers. Whether meeting people via the local rotary club, the area chamber of commerce or at the local pub, great salespeople can be very good at telling everyone about what they do – their friends, family, customers, other employees and even strangers. Great salespeople also know that the more people who know what they do, the better the chance of that specific network spreading the word.
They ask their channel for referrals. Most great reps never leave a meeting, business or personal, without asking for a referral – and they are skilled at handling it with a gentle approach. One of the most staggering statistics that I have recently heard is that between 70 percent and 80 percent of all people are willing to refer leads if asked, yet less than 15 percent of individuals and companies ask for them. The great ones ask, and they ask often.
They motivate the channel. Compensation is a great motivator (just ask the majority of the 17 million commissioned sales reps in the U.S.) and many of the great ones build professional referrals networks where they compensate people and companies for leads referred to them that can eventually lead to business. There are both monetary and non-monetary ways to incent people to do things that actually work.
They nurture the channel. They always thank their network for referrals, they compensate their network in a timely fashion for referrals and they keep them in the loop.
The good technology solutions should help replicate and facilitate those processes to “institutionalize” and scale the process of driving referrals. These solutions must:
Make it easy to enroll customers, employees and influencers into the referral program. The idea is to build a referral community.
Provide them with the tools to make it easy to refer.
Track and manage all the workflows so you can measure results.
Automate the process of thanking and nurturing these channels for their contributions so they continue to perform.
While the marketplace is changing at a pace that is liable to cause even the top salespeople to question their sales strategy, there is one thing that will not change. Networking will always be #1 for driving quality leads that must be nurtured, thanked and motivated.
The only real difference today, is that these steps can be completed at a faster, more efficient pace, generating exponentially more leads and closed deals – and enabling the best salespeople to be even better.
CEO Richard Beedon extoles benefits of crowdsourcing leads in today's Yahoo, Small Business Advisor. Some of these benefits?
Beedon writes, "Reaching out to the crowds of people that know and trust you makes good business sense. They are very connected, have a loud and trusted voice, and they can reach their friends easily and often on your behalf."
By utilizing the latest in social marketing software and technology, business leaders can mobilize this channel by creating and leveraging their social relationships to generate great leads and drive new business.
Amplifinity, creators of the Advocacy Management Platform, is growing quickly. We've got several job openings, and we are on the hunt for people who have what it takes to be a part of a team that is driven, undeterred at the idea of venturing out on their own to get things done, and super enthusiastic about being part of a fast moving, energetic tech startup culture.
Amplifinity is located on North Main Street in Ann Arbor, MI, on the Huron River (Do you kayak? Like to trail run? Enjoy sitting by the water to catch a break during the day? That's all available steps outside our front door!). We are a vibrant, eclectic group of people who enjoy what we do, and don't mind taking time to have some fun while we work.
If you want to gain unparalleled professional experience with a company that values everyone's voice, opinions and new ideas, Amplifinity is definitely the place.
Click here for details, or send an email with questions or to request more information!
- The Team at Amplifinity
Amplifinity has been talking a lot lately - for good reasons. We are turning our enterprise clients' brand advocates - their customers, employees and influencers - into powerful sales and marketing channels. Read more about how we are doing it!
"Four Reasons Marketers Should Focus on Brand Advocacy" By CEO, Richard Beedon
"Employees: A New Sales and Marketing Channel"By CEO, Richard Beedon
"Brand Advocacy: Fact or Fiction?" By Director of Marketing, Theresa Trevor
Amplifinity's CEO, Dick Beedon, is the author of a new article on iMedia Connection.
In the article, Beedon discusses ways how the evolving social landscape has affected sales and marketing, and how companies can take advantage of the rapidly changing environment by leveraging social channels.
Find the full article here.
At Amplifinity we work hard. We stay late. We come in early. We eat lunch at our desks. We laugh a lot. Who doesn't appreciate the occasional proof that it's all worth it? This year, Amplifinity got our proof. The Amplifinity team is on a collective mission to create the most powerful brand advocacy software platform on the market - one that gives our clients the power to acquire highly qualified customers by soliciting referrals, testimonials and endorsements from their customers, employees and influencers.
I recently started reading the biography of Steve Jobs, written by I admire Jobs and find his work ethic inspiring (a little daunting, ok, but inspiring nonetheless). Jobs was incomprehensibly successful as an entrepreneur and inventor because of some basic principles to which he held fast. Three of these principles resonated with me as the same that keeps Amplifinity growing and becoming better every day:
1) Do what you love
This may seem trite, but if you truly enjoy what you do, chances are good you're going to succeed. If you are passionate about your work and the work you do for those who use and buy your products, it's almost impossible to fail.
2) Get your message down and make sure you deliver on that message.
It's possible that Steve Jobs did this better than any other brand leader out there. Your message can sell an "experience" or come across as lofty or too good to be true, and that's ok if your product is as good as the experience you're selling.
We've all been sold on products and been disappointed when the real-deal is far from what we were "promised." Make your message cool, creative, clever; but make sure your product delivers.
3) Be indefatigable.
There's not one brand out there that hasn't looked defeat in the eye and wanted to cower in a corner. But the good ones don't cower or relent. They don't listen to naysayers. Jobs had plenty of people who doubted him. The technology arena is a crowded space with lots of really smart people trying to come out on top. If you adhere to #1 and #2 above, tireless representation of your cause will come easy - well, easier at least. But you've got to have a pretty impressive constitution to make that happen.
Jobs stands as a true pioneer - even despite the fact that he was often maligned or criticized for his insatiable quest for perfection.
At Amplifinity, the energy and dedication not only to perfecting our product but to our clients' success has resulted in significant growth of our staff, our client roster, our clients' revenue and the AMP Platform.
So, in the words of Steve Jobs, the team at Amplifinity has "the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future."
Read more about Amplifinity's 2013 growth here.
Amplifinity's CEO, Dick Beedon, is the author of a new article for WIRED Innovation.
Beedon writes about the ways in which brands can transform their customers, employees and 3rd party influencers into high performing sales and marketing channels by putting technology in place that allows them to generate, track, and manage brand advocacy.
"Today’s truly successful companies understand the importance of transforming their customers into life-long brand advocates," Beedon writes.
Click here to view the full article.
TXU Energy has launched a new customer referral program powered by Amplifinity.
The program allows TXU customers to easily refer their friends and family through email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or cards that can be printed and handed out. Both the existing customer and the new customer receive a $50 prepaid card for each qualified friend who signs up.
"There's nothing more powerful than a friend recommending a company's service," said Michael Grasso, Chief Marketing Officer for TXU.
For more information and the full press release, click here.