In today’s highly-social uber-connected world, success of a brand is heavily dependent on the credible social conversations that the top 20% of their consumers are having about their product.
With too much marketing interference, a staggering 60% consumers feel more negatively about advertising than they did a year ago. This means, nobody cares about what the brand says about their product. What they care about, instead, is what their network, friends and peers have to say about it.
For instance, here is a conversation I overheard when picking up my daughter from school.
Mother A – “My daughter Alia is sick again. She just doesn’t eat. How do I improve her immunity?”
Mother B – “I was facing the same issue with my son Advait. A couple of months ago my friend Shruti told me about Immuno Boosters. It has all the nutrients and stuff a child needs to build immunity.
The best part being, it is available in chocolate flavor. He is more than happy to eat it.
And surprisingly, he doesn’t fall as sick as he used to. Touch wood.”
Having been a marketer for the last 13 years I was acutely aware that this was ‘drops of pure gold’ to the marketing managers at Cipla. They would’ve loved to know their product was being recommended so passionately.
After all, there is enough research that shows people trust friends and family far more than they trust brand advertising. In fact, people trust online reviews from absolute strangers more than they trust brand-sponsored messages. But then you might wonder, can a brand really control and drive consumer recommendations at scale?
Here Is What You Need To Do
#1. Have a strong product that lives up to (or exceeds) consumer expectations
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#2. Make “structured word of mouth marketing” an integral part of your amplification plans, and not leave it to chance.
I’ve always believed the real fruit never lies in chasing the answers, but in asking the right questions.
Here are the 7 burning questions that help determine the success or failure of a structured word of mouth marketing campaign.
Do your consumers know you really well?
The insight is quite a simple one. “The more I know you, the more I talk about you”. What if I told you, a pint of Guinness beer has fewer calories than a glass of orange juice? Chances are the next time there is a discussion around alcohol and diets, you may bring this up.
When your consumers “KNOW MORE” about you, they will fuel the right conversations in
the right context. These could be fun things, little pieces of trivia, what makes your brand special, what they can tell their friends when recommending you, your founding story… all of it. It is impossible for all this to happen on a 30- second TV ad, or a fleeting digital ad. Incorporate touch-points in your marketing mix that allow for truly DEEPER engagement.
A great way to do this is by including consumer-centric gamification solutions, which increase the amount of time your consumers spend engaging with your brand in a fun, interactive way. Get your consumers to know you better, and it will lead to more meaningful recommendations.
Is Spending Time with your brand FUN?
So, why would a consumer spend more time with your brand? That too in a world where every other brand is vying for their attention?
Make it fun for your consumers to ENGAGE deeper with your brand in a bite-sized and interactive way that allows them to consume information around your
category and brand at their own pace. Try consumer-advocacy platforms that create
programs of genuine value for both the consumer as well as your brand.
On average, a consumer that’s having fun spending time with your brand would spend AT LEAST 5 minutes (if not more) engaging with your brand in one interaction. And there would be a strong enough reason to inspire multiple interactions.
Are you asking your consumers to talk about you?
Many brands shy away from asking to be recommended because they presume that if the consumer really wanted to, they would.
Reality is that people often need to be nudged to talk about something, even if it’s something they are happy to talk about anyway.
So ask for advocacy, and let your consumers know exactly HOW they can share their love for you.
- Do you want them to leave their experiences as a review on Amazon?
- Do you want them to write a recommendation on their Facebook timeline?
- Do you want them to shoot a video testimonial telling their friends about your brand or product?
- Do you want them to shoot pictures while using your product and show the world how it’s done?
- Maybe you just want them to create a funny meme around the category to spread some buzz?
- Or do you simply want them to refer their friends to your store or your website?
Is Talking about your brand, EASY?
Let’s face it. People are inherently lazy. Since the beginning of time, man is physiologically wired to “conserve energy”. So if you want someone to do something for you, it’s really important you make it as EASY as possible.
How can you make advocacy easy?
- By making it available at their fingertips – at the click of a button
- By ALSO offering ready-content that they think is shareable. Numerous platforms help you do this. Tap into a platform which understands not only how to make advocating easy, but also understands that people will ONLY share brand content that they believe will make them look good to their peers.
Do you know who your top advocates are?
It’s important to have a clear definition of who is an advocate and how they will be identified. You can’t run an effective advocacy program without this. Don’t just rely on research data of people ‘claiming’ they will recommend your brand to their Friends. There is naturally a huge gap between the number of people whoclaim to recommend, and those that genuinely do.A good consumer advocacy platform can help you identify your REAL consumer advocates. Select the ones that have already proven to be recommending your brand to their friends. Actions, always speak louder than words.
Do your advocates feel SPECIAL?
When advocates recommend your brand, it’s important to show some gratitude.
So once you’ve identified your top cream of advocates, make sure you have a good plan on how you intend to make them feel valued and Special. And by special I don’t mean hand out cash vouchers. By special I mean give them access to information others don’t have, let them see behind the scenes, visit a factory, meet a TOP leader of your organization or a celebrity you have on board. There are many ways to truly WOW your consumer advocates and make them feel Appreciated.
In fact, it’s these WOW moments that make relationships with consumer advocates special. They help your brand stand out. They make more people want to be your Advocates.
Are they part of something more MEANINGFUL?
People often underestimate the power of cause-marketing. More than 72% of people are likely to recommend a brand that supports a good cause, (reports an Edelman goodpurpose study)
People inherently want to do good and be part of something much larger and
meaningful. Give them the chance. I’m not just talking about having a CSR wing in your company or a social program that runs in isolation. I’m talking about a way to help your consumer advocates actively participate in ‘doing good for society’, and know that your brand helped make that happen. Give your advocates another reason to love you and love recommending you.
Choose or design consumer advocacy programs that don’t just empower your consumer and your brand, but ALSO empower the society at large. This Triple-win value exchange will give your advocacy program a long-term, sustainable boost like nothing else.