Eric Jacobson: President & CFO, Amplifinity
The moment I realized I had hit rock bottom was in Las Vegas in 1994. It was at the software industry’s giant COMDEX trade show there. I was working for a company that made computer games for kids, and the star of our games was an animated otter. To get attention at the trade show, we hired a college mascot seamstress to fabricate a heavy otter costume out of fake fur and foam. A young woman employed at our company agreed to wear the costume, but it was warm in Vegas that November, especially in the middle of the packed convention center. You can predict what happened. Within hours, we were handing the otter cold water to try to stabilize its internal temperature. The trade show was critical for us. We were launching new products. We verbally pressured the otter to keep going, to keep waddling and hugging trade show attendees. But by the second day, we had reached the breaking point. I found our otter, in full costume, passed out from heat exhaustion on the floor behind our trade show booth.
But it wasn’t just us. In the years that preceded ’94 and the years that followed it, COMDEX became a ridiculous scene, ballooning to become the largest trade show in the world. Exhibitors attracted customers by any means necessary, often with tactics far more provocative than otter costumes. Eventually, the situation could not sustain itself. A backlash erupted from exhibitors, the press and attendees. Everyone bailed at once. And ten years later, things totally imploded. The largest trade show in the history of the world was cancelled in 2004.
And it wasn’t just COMDEX. Tradeshow attendance worldwide has tumbled in recent years. People point to virtual online tradeshows as the reason for this, but I don’t agree. I have never participated in an online tradeshow, and I don't know anyone who has.
What really killed tradeshows is word-of-mouth marketing. Companies have found it exponentially easier to find new customers through their existing networks of customers, partners and employees. Email and social media have fueled this explosion, making connections easy and innocuous. Marketing managers no longer have to pay otters, magicians or porn stars to make their connections for them in a crowded room. Sales people don’t have to spend days walking hard convention center floors, searching for an old contact in hopes he’ll introduce you to someone else. With word-of-mouth, fueled by social media, the connections we make are easy; they can happen any time, and they seem to last forever.
This is especially true in business-to-business relationships. A solid, ongoing word-of-mouth program, where incentives are used to motivate customers to introduce new ones, is like a trade show that never ends. At Amplifinity, our customers for our B2B word-of-mouth social media applications are finding this is exactly the case.
And I’d rather reward a customer than shove an employee into an otter costume any day of the week.
Eric Jacobson, President and CFO at Amplifinity
I am a grumpy CFO. And I’ve had just about enough of marketing managers who don’t like to do math. I’m not saying that all marketers avoid math, but business is about numbers and making money. A couple years ago, I was forced to speak at a marketing event on a panel about marketing ROI. One of the panelists had the audacity to say something like, “Marketing ROI is equal to brand awareness.” Later that afternoon, as I spotted the marketer leaving the conference in the parking lot, I was tempted to run him over with my car. The world might have been a better place. Do I sound cold? Good, because I am here to share two cold truths. The first is that there is only one definition of marketing ROI. It is…
ROI = (Net Present Lifetime Value of Customer) / (Marketing Cost to Acquire Customer)
This brutal metric is the only way to know if a marketing initiative is working. If the cost to acquire a customer exceeds the profits you make over the life of that customer, factoring in attrition and the cost of capital, things are not working. You’d be better off throwing the money in the trash. It would take less of your time. The second cold truth is that almost nothing works. I won’t shoot the long list of marketing vehicles that typically have negative ROIs in this blog, but the list is staggering. The amount of money wasted on bad advertising in pursuit of brand awareness should give us all pause.
And this is exactly why I joined Amplifinity. The act of current customers recruiting new customers circumvents the entire qualitative universe. It’s about friends telling friends (Word of Mouth) which products they like and why. It is transparent. The costs and returns are easy to track, manage and control. The marketing ROI is clear and obvious. And there is no creative message required to connect a brand to a primal human need. All you need is your good product, our software, and the truth. Your customers will do the rest. There's nothing cold about that.
Steve Rozanski, Director of Business Development at Amplifinity
Ever hear this one, "We understand the concept but we're only interested in a pilot, not something long-term." If you are in sales you hear this a lot. It's part of the game. It's important to understand what long-term means to that prospect. As a business, you have to decide whether you want to work on one project with a client or if you want a relationship. Sometimes one project turns into a relationship. I feel privileged to say it has happened multiple times with my team here but when we prospect for clients or partners, we want long term relationships and this is why:
Advocacy is a Long Term Commitment
Watching this whole world of social media, customer advocacy, influencer ranking, etc. evolve over the last 4+ years, we are finally at a point where every company knows it's something they HAVE to pay some attention to. The clients that Amplifinity is working with have also bought into a long term vision of what they want to do with their advocates. Some of this takes place on our platform, and other aspects are managed by vendors who offer a complementary service. In the end though, the business is better informed about their network.
So if Advocacy is a long term play, why would you want to do one-off campaigns to try something out, but lose access to the data you uncover? If you continue to run other programs in the future, why not have those all managed on the same platform? Our clients want this and that is what we have built and continue to add to daily.
Advocacy Will Evolve
Just as every marketing trend from direct mail to SEO has evolved, so will advocacy. If you are in it for the long term, you need to evolve with it and partner with an organization/platform that is ahead of the curve in the space. Simply educating you on what's coming next in this world is not enough; you need the technology on which you are basing your advocate outreach programs to be ahead of the curve too.
The worst thing that can happen to a business is it becomes stagnant in the eyes of its customers. Who wants to talk about something that isn't cool? How do you keep a brand cool? Give people cool stuff to talk about! I don't even need to explain how great a job Apple has done at this (amongst a million other things).
Chasm has been Crossed
No matter what I was brought up being told, sometimes it feels better to follow since you can watch others' mistakes and learn from them. In the world of advocacy the leaders are already carrying the torch. Brands like Pepsi, DIRECTV, Sony, and Ford have chosen to be early adopters, or leaders in this field. Learn from them. Find a partner who can tell you about what works for your business and what does not. Test and measure everything.
So that's it. Simple huh? In some ways it is. Find a good platform, find a strategy you believe in and invest in the future of your Advocates.
If you have questions email me directly srozanski@amplifinity . I like to talk about this world of advocacy... maybe a little too much.
By Steve Rozanski, Director of Business Development
Our awesome marketing team here at Amplifinity has been asking me to write a blog post for some time now. It’s something that I struggle with for one main reason: I want to write something people will read and share. That’s the goal of effective marketing right? It's also something that feeds a certain part of a person’s ego. If I create piece of content and it gets shared/viewed by hundreds or even thousands of people, I feel pretty good about myself. Okay, I'll be honest. If fifty people saw what I wrote it would be satisfying. So where the heck am I going with this? I'll tell you. If you create things you are passionate about, people will respond. People will share. People will buy in. Are you going to occasionally attract "haters"? Absolutely. Learn from them. Take what they say, no matter how crass or off-topic it may be, and use it going forward. Engage with those people and learn why they are not happy with your opinion, product or service.
I heard a great interview this morning on my drive into work on the Mixergy Podcast (Go to 21:45). The co-founder of Twitch.tv, Emmett Shear, explained that their business really started to take off when they interacted with their users through an eight-question survey. The survey wasn’t your typical, "What do you like/hate about our product?" They went further. Shear said the question that really got people talking was, "What would you do if you were the CEO of Twitch.tv?"
The point of this rant is to drive home one thing: If you want people to talk about your products/services, share their experiences with their friends and become loyal advocates for your business, you need to interact with them. Learn why they love you, and then motivate them to share – be creative! People love to talk. A widely accepted fact of becoming a good leader is having the ability to come up with ideas and then getting your team to buy into them, making the ideas their own and allowing them to take the credit for that idea. Being a brand leader in your market has the same principals as being a leader within your company. Get people to engage with you, get them to buy into what you are selling and give them the credit when that story is sold to others. Advocacy 101.(BTW, if you haven't checked out Mixergy.com you should. It is the perfect example of what I wrote about here. They have a great product that I tell people about daily and get nothing in return, until that person thanks me for letting them know about it. I am bought in).
Steve Rozanski is the Director of Business Development at Amplifinity and works with its partners and clients to strategically build an advocate base. You can connect with him through email or on Twitter (@SteveRozanski).
You’ve heard the saying, “It is all about who you know.”
This statement couldn’t be more true for businesses when it comes to knowing who your brand advocates are. Think of it this way, there is a mass of people out there promoting, sustaining or in some cases even negatively impacting your brand. Now imagine if you were able to find out who these people are, what they are talking about, and to whom they are talking…. just think of the competitive edge you would have. According to a recent study conducted by North America and European B2B Social Technographics , 84% of people say that peers and colleagues alone impact their decision-making. This probably means you should be out there engaging your brand advocates and giving them the tools they need to actively promote your brand.
Amplifinity never said this was going to be easy, it can be done. First, we suggest knowing as much as you can about your brand advocates in order to properly engage them. For example, a recent study showed that 61% of people will recommend a product solely based on a positive experience they had. So why wouldn’t you want to give them the tools needed to recommend products to friends and family? Next, you need to be able to track and manage your brand advocates. Knowing who they are, what they are saying, and who they are talking to is a lot of the battle, but being able to continually give your brand advocates something to chat about is another piece of the puzzle. This is where Amplifnity can help! Our Advocate Management Platform (AMP) helps enterprise companies generate, measure and manage brand advocacy. Our infrastructure creates programs that generate high value forms of advocacy, deploy them at every customer touchpoint, integrate with key enterprise systems, and measure the results.
Contact us today for more information.
Amplifinity's technology, which creates far-reaching word-of-mouth and brand advocacy solutions for their clients, partners with Brierley+Partners. Brierley creates some of the world's most successful loyalty and CRM programs for globally recognized companies. Read our press release:
I do not think we can stress it anymore; Brand Advocates are a vital part of every company. A Recent blog we came across on Social Media Examiner, 9 Reasons Your Company Should Use Brand Advocates: New Research, touches on 9 key brand advocate attributes that illustrate the immediate impact they can have on your company. Take a moment to read this blog and you will understand why Amplifinity has been working with companies to promote brand advocacy and provide them with an infrastructure that helps their brand advocates do what they do best!
Source: Social Media Examiner
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?
American Laser Skincare and Amplifinity have created a very successful customer referral program, helping to mobilize American Laser Skincare's existing social brand advocates, and creating new ones.
Take a look and see how we did it - sign up to download our 2-minute video that outlines the program, the technology and the outcome.
Want to find out how Amplifinity can help your company? Click here to request a demo or talk to a sales associate.
Guest Post BY: Matt Chittle, Vice President of Strategy and Client Success, Amplifinity
When I was seven-years-old, my grandmother was an "Avon lady". She sold Avon products door-to-door. Sometimes when I stayed with her, she took me along on deliveries. I can remember visiting one particular customer (I don’t remember her name, but we'll call her Agnes), who had recently moved into a new neighborhood. Before we left Agnes’ house, my grandmother handed Agnes several samples of skin cream.
“What’s this?” Agnes asked.
“It’s a new skin cream,” my grandmother replied. “Try it out, and if any of your new neighbors are interested in younger looking skin, share it with them!”
When we got in the car, my grandmother smiled knowingly and said, “Agnes is a social butterfly; half of this neighborhood will soon be my clients.” The next time we went to Agnes’ neighborhood, we made eight deliveries.
Many years later when I was studying marketing - learning about CPM, GRPs, TRPs and how many of them it took to cram enough customers through the funnel - I thought of my grandmother’s methods as quaint. At that time, I was taught that mass media held unassailable power over consumers. Not the case anymore.
I wish I could tell my grandmother that she had it right all along. Her methods didn’t scale, but they do now, and then some. Mobile and social technologies have given the Agnes’ of the world the ability to reach out to 500 friends instead of just 8 neighbors.
My grandmother understood how to grow a business by identifying and mobilizing advocates because she grew up before mass media, at a time when advocacy and word-of-mouth were the only option. As mass media grew we all forgot (or were never taught) the power of consumers communicating with one another.
If my grandmother were still selling today, I’m sure she would be tracking thousands of Agnes’. She would never miss an opportunity to ask them to tell a friend about her products and they would all be talking about their smoother, younger looking skin and their great "Avon lady."