Amplifinity is proud to announce that we won the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's WOMMY People's Choice Award for our American Laser Skincare Case Study. Take a few minutes to read about our successful referral program, and view our video. Thank you to all who voted for our case study!
If you would like to find out more about how Amplifinity's platform is helping our clients build their brand advocate base, drive brand awareness, and increase revenue, contact us for a quick demo.
Brad Allan; Sales Associate at Amplifinity
The Woodward Dream Cruise: the largest one-day automotive event in the world, just outside of Detroit. Participants include 1.5+ million attendees and 40,000+ cars. Today’s cell phone technology with built-in cameras and mobile apps makes the Dream Cruise an ideal environment for auto marketers in the performance segments to connect with brand advocates and generate customers.
If you are a car person, you are most likely aware of this event. My lovely wife and I like cars, admittedly me more than her. We decided we needed to go to the last night of the “pre-cruise.” The pre-cruise is generally defined as the Tuesday-Friday nights before the actual cruise on Saturday morning. The Friday night pre-cruise has maybe half the cars and a tenth of the crowd. Not a bad combination.
As we were walking through the Chrysler display at the corner of 13 Mile and Woodward, I watched the cars driving by on Woodward and I heard my wife say (with feeling),” I want this!” “What is it?” I tell her that the object of her affection is the new Viper. The 2013 Viper SRT is sitting under a little tent partially surrounded by admirers.
I have some connection to this car’s earliest ancestors as my uncle was one of the managers in Chrysler’s prototype shop when this beast was first developed. My favorite story concerned the design of an EPA legal side exhaust that didn’t vaporize the skin on your calf when you tried to get out of the car! That took a few attempts to perfect.
The pre-cruise was a missed opportunity for Chrysler to connect with potential customers and brand advocates. It would have been easy for a Chrysler event marketer to give people a chance to have their picture taken with the car or to gather reactions to the new re-design. There were many Chrysler staff people on site as the display took up most of the shopping center-sized parking lot. This was also just 4 months after the re-designed Vipers’ debut at the New York Auto Show. At that point, not many people had seen this car up close. Chrysler could have offered a free app to incent people to share pictures and comments with friends and encourage them to stop by the display to see it themselves. It would have been easy to track them through to the purchase of a Viper or any Chrysler vehicle.
One-and-a-half million gear heads, all in the same place, on the same day. Missed opportunity!
Brad Allen; Sales Associate at Amplifinity
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.
Did I get your attention? I hope so, because I loved this article in The Atlantic this month! Short and to the point, Frank Rose reports on a recent Harvard study that explores why people like to talk about themselves so damn much these days. Turns out, our brains really dig disclosing personal thoughts and opinions about, well, pretty much anything. We like it so much, in fact, that the act of sharing activates and engages our "mesolimbic dopamine system." Who knew?
Why does this matter to what we do at Amplifinity? Well, if people like to talk and share as much as this study suggests, (and as long as humans still get happy from eating and having sex), they're still going to be sharing thoughts about your brand and referring you business. And that means I have more job security than I thought.
Eric Jacobson; President and CFO at Amplifinity
There is a scene in Woody Allen’s classic film “Take The Money and Run” that always cracks me up. A prisoner working on a chain gang complains to the guards, and as punishment, he is locked up in the hole with an insurance salesman. The scene is funny because there was a time when the public perception of insurance agents was something painful -- that they maximize their revenue by telling clients all the awful things that might happen to them. Times have changed. I have referred a number of friends to my insurance agent, Matt, not because he feeds my paranoia, but because he offers excellent service and doesn’t sell me policies I don’t need. It’s all about trust.
Lately, we have been having more and more conversations here at Amplifinity with folks in the insurance industry. This is an exciting development for an industry that has been helping people to protect their assets and families for a long time. However, if you’ve seen any ads by insurance companies in the last decade, they seem to have a new problem on their hands. Ads are almost always about having the cheapest rates. This kind of price war erodes margins. And aggressive insurance agents, like Woody Allen’s cell mate, aren’t a good solution either.
But this is where word-of-mouth software can save the day. Software like the kind we sell here at Amplifinity lets happy customers at good companies create testimonials and referrals online. These good companies can now differentiate themselves by their service, not just their prices. Customer referral programs and testimonials, where customers share stories about agents who gave trustworthy service, or helped them with a claim amidst tragedy, aren’t just avoiding the industry’s price war… they are priceless.
Dan Pasick; Director of Corporate Sales at Amplifinity
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
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'.
Check out Dick Beedon's (Founder and CEO at Amplifinity) newest blog in All Things WOMM.
In Today's blog, Beedon digs a little deeper into just one of the ways a company can leverage their brand advocates to drive sales and marketing inititatives: Referrals.
Our Founder and CEO, Dick Beedon, writes (in All Things WOMM blog - click here) about the Social Enterprise today, and how companies can and should be leveraging their customers and employees to drive sales and marketing inititatives. Look for his next blog in All Things WOMM the week of September 3rd, when he discusses the finer points of referral marketing.
We would love to hear the ways in which your brand advocates have worked for your company.
President and CFO at Amplifinity
The story you are about to read was told to me by a stranger in a bar who swore on his life it is true. He heard it from his uncle who heard it from someone else. It comes from the frozen lakes of Northern Michigan. It’s the kind of tale that leaves the listener with nightmares, but I’m compelled to share it here nonetheless.
So, there’s this guy who goes ice fishing every day. He has a shack out on the ice off of one of the Great Lakes with a hole in the ice inside the shack. He always takes his small dog, a fluffy Pomeranian, with him. The only fish he ever catches are little perch.
So one day, the guy wakes up in the early darkness and takes his dog out to the shack. It’s a bad morning. He tries all types of lures and bait and worms, but he doesn’t get a single nibble. Then, just as he’s about to leave, his dog runs up to the edge of the hole and starts yipping at the water. Suddenly, fast as lighting, with a swoosh, a giant sturgeon, a hundred-or-so pounds, flies up out of the hole. The fish grabs the Pomeranian by the fur on its neck, and the two plunge back into the hole. The man races to the hole and looks down and sees nothing but black watery depths. The sturgeon and pomeranian are gone forever.
You may ask yourself why this story is important. I admit it’s really awful. Well, here it is: Aesop himself could not have crafted a better fable for two important rules of how to use partners in good B2B referral marketing. Here are the lessons:
1) Partnerships are critical. Good business referrals don’t just come from customers and employees. Partners often have synergies and value-added offerings that the usual referral channels (employees and customers) can’t deliver, or they are trusted experts in their fields. We’ve seen some awesome examples of partner programs work great for our customers here at Amplifinity. In our story, the dog was a partner to the fisherman. The fisherman couldn’t catch the fish no matter what bait he tried, but the partner could.
2) Keep your partner on a tight leash. Know what they say about you in social media. Know what they are saying to potential customers. Get involved with them. Make sure they are equipped with the right messaging to help you out. It’s hard to describe a product if you don’t work on it every day as an employee or if you don’t use it yourself as a customer. In our example, if the fisherman had a tight leash, he would have caught a big fish.
So that’s it. If it gives you strange dreams, I hope they’ll be about catching big customers.
Designer at Amplifinity
Lately, I’ve begun to view many aspects of life as a game – not in a casual, non-serious sense, but rather in a way that makes things more fun and less of a drag. For example, I used to loathe doing the laundry, a mindless, yet necessary task which was the bane of my existence in college. However, once I viewed it as a game, tackling the ever-growing mountain of clothing became less of a chore and more of a competition with myself. How fast could I get it done? How quickly could I fold everything? How efficiently could I bring order to chaos? (If you’re getting the sense that I led a pretty boring college life, you aren’t that far off.)
As adults in a capitalist/consumer culture, one of the biggest games we play is the money game. Paychecks become points, and bank accounts become scoreboards. An individual’s “worth,” or “value” in the eyes of Western society is often misunderstood as how much money one has. The individual plays the game of participating in commerce, attempting to make informed choices amidst a barrage of targeted advertising and marketing campaigns. For many, the game revolves around the notion of getting the most while spending the least.
The other side of this game is played by the corporate entity. Businesses are constantly
looking for ways to make more money while spending less, and are realizing that the value gained from traditional advertising versus the cost and effort it takes to set up and maintain these campaigns is diminishing in the wake of the social web. Naturally, companies are now turning to social technologies like Facebook and Twitter to directly engage their customers and promote their services or products to a vast network of people instantaenously.
The funny thing is, every business is different; every consumer has his or her own tastes, and there is no apparent way to “win” this game. Our culture likes to think that “winning” is the only option, and “losing” is a very, very bad thing. Often, we find ourselves locked in the unsolvable problem of winning without losing, over-thinking and over-strategizing instead of just doing and evaluating the results.
A consumer can be incentivized to refer friends online through social networks, but the messages that people share regarding products or services aren’t always positive, and a reward doesn’t necessarily change an individual’s negative perspective in most cases. In fact, many of the larger corporations’ Facebook pages that I’ve seen, act as a way for the disgruntled consumers to vent their unhappiness directly to a company’s social marketing group.
I’ve spoken with decision-makers at enterprise-level companies who have expressed hesitance in promoting incentive programs through social networking channels for this exact reason. There ends up being a sentiment of, “We will lose this game before we even start, because our page is full of complaints and unhappy customers.” This may appear to be the case, but the truth is that there really isn’t any such thing as “losing.”
What is gained by creating and promoting a program that under-performs, doesn’t go anywhere, or is ultimately a failure? Financally-speaking, money would be lost, but the true value comes from the knowledge and understaning of why the program did not work as expected. A company may learn that their customers are not who they thought they were, and that a particular incentive is meaningless to them. Or, a company may learn that their customers have not had a positive-enough experience to share it with friends and family. These are valuable things to learn, and can be used to significantly increase the quality of a business overall, as long as the entity and its decision-makers remain open to critique and change. This knowledge is, in the long-run, exponentially more valuable than money earned in the short term through a dissatisfied customer base that is just pursuing an empty cash-in.
Winning and losing, success and failure… these are all opposite sides of the same coin. Failure needs to exist in order for us to know what success is, but that doesn’t mean that something positive cannot be gained from a negative situation. After all, it’s only a game, and no one gets better at games from winning all the time! So, fear of failure should not be a barrier to learning more about your business or your customers. Put things out there, give things a try, and by all means, don’t let your laundry pile up. Do, and learn from experience.