Not just playground gossip
If you’re launching a new product, nothing brings customers quicker into your doors than the power of advocacy-marketing. Think it sounds like a fancy marketing technique? Hardly – its just taking the art of mothers gossiping at the playground to a whole new level.
Used by branding giants such as Microsoft, American Express, P&G and Walt Disney, it is a way to cut through endless marketing messages from the mass media. Research by the BCG shows that most consumers “trust recommendations from friends, colleagues, and people they know, as well as online consumer opinions, more than corporate marketing messages”.
However, to best leverage this marketing tool, companies must “find the right people and get them talking about the right things in the right places”, the report recommends. BCG suggests a three prong approach: customer insight, message creation, and an integrated program of online and offline outreach.
In order to identify the right advocates, companies should not just think celebrities; but rather, talking to consumers and identifying individuals who are respected and credible.
Its also vital that a significant conversation is start, or as BCG puts it, to have a message “that runs counter to a mental model”. The key is to surprise consumers with a novel and unexpected message, but one that remain aligned with the brand image and message.
Finally, the message must be able to be disseminated across all forms of communication – both online and offline. BCG advises that brand messages must be available as and when consumers them seek out.
To maintain an effective advocacy marketing plan, brands must be willing to provide interaction tools with consumers, be ready to listen to feedback and criticism, and most importantly, to respond to these messages.