Posts Tagged ‘Brand Advocacy’

“In a world where all products are increasingly the same, marketers have to appeal not to consumers rational decision making processes, but to their emotional ones. No stronger emotion exists than the need to belong” Douglas Atkin The Culting of Brands

In late 2010 I ranked the UK’s leading brands by how effective they were at marshalling a brand movement. I did this by measuring how active their advocates were – how often their  advocates recommended them to others. We then studied the top performing brands and  found that they displayed four key characteristics that we concluded are necessary to create a vibrant brand movement.

1. A Cause.

At the heart of any brand movement is a cause. This is the belief system that an audience buy into and champion. These belief systems tend not to appeal to everyone, but for some they create an intense sense of belonging.

Lifebouy soap is a great example of a brand cause. How do you create a great sense of belonging, amongst mums, around a bar of soap? Unilever’s solution, noting that hygiene standards in the third world was the primary cause of child deaths, was to develop the cause of helping to halve these deaths in the world. What mum wouldn’t want to support a cause like this.

2. Communities

Around the cause, successful brand movements foster, build and support vibrant communities. On and offline they encourage regular contact between members, develop shared experiences, co-create agendas, build their own symbols and most importantly actively encourage peer to peer recruitment. Kelloggs do this well with Special K

There are four different community segments that influence brand movements – Personal (friends,family, work colleagues), Expert (doctors etc.), Social (Mumsnet, Woman Institute), Media (newspapers, magazines etc.). These can be easily measured for impact and influence to identify those who will deliver the greatest return.

3. Contagious Stories

Research has shown that stories stick better than facts and figures. If you were raising money for children in Africa, a real boys story would raise twice as much as the cold facts and figures behind any plight. Leaders of brand movements need to become expert storytellers, sugar coating their messages with stories that will get retold. Great stories have a structure and many blue chip organisations use this as a framework for their external communications.

4. Campaigning

Movements die if they are not constantly fuelled by new thinking and disruptive content. Our 24/7 world has increased the ‘wear out’ of brand ideas ten fold since the dawn of the internet. A great multi million pound advert today, can be viewed a million times on Youtube tomorrow and then forgotten by next week. Unless it starts a conversation,that is further fuelled and re-energised, the movement will wither and die. Brands today need to campaign for their Cause, taking the threads of conversations that appear  each day in Newspapers, on Facebook or around the Coffee machine and inject their point of view. As Seth Godin says, if you stand still you become invisible. It’s why many brands today are setting up campaign teams, editorial teams and newsrooms.

Movements are the future of brands. Bain & Associates have proven this conclusively with their Net promoter Score measure. The challenge for marketing and communication managers today is to mastermind the creation and maintenance of these movements. The 4C’s provides a framework to support this.

4C’s Copyright Richard Moss 2012


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Who cares if your customers say they will recommend your brand… if they never get round to doing so. Realising the potential of advocacy requires active advocates, but can you influence this? This was the question we set out to answer in our research project ‘Leading by recommendation’. We studied 120 brands in the UK and 4000 customers. We found significant differences in activation levels between brands in the same sectors. We also found striking similarities in the way these brands approached their marketing. We distilled these findings into a model, the 4C’s of advocacy activation. A model which can be applied to build advocacy, build activation and build the momentum of brands.
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If you don’t represent me and what I care about, then get lost! In the world where executive power has moved out of the boardroom and onto the street, where there are a 1000 choices in life when one will do, where the values and behaviours of a brand have become as important as their benefits -brands have a simple choice. Become an extension of their consumers lives – thinking and acting as they would, or die.

Research conducted by BritainThinks this month should therefore be especially interesting to brand marketeers. They asked consumers to think about which brands best represented them and their lives today. The top three answers – Apple, Sony and M&S.

The research is interesting, but the insight behind it is key. In marketing today, in my opinion, three questions rule.

1. Do I represent my  consumers – fight their cause?

2. Do I behave as they would wish?

3. Do they recommend my brand?

The research can be accessed by clicking on the link below:-

TimeCapsule Research – Most Defining Brands 2011

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Research by Harris recently showed that 45% of people claimed they are influenced by who they follow online, with almost a fifth saying they are more likely to buy products from companies they have “liked” on Facebook. Indeed Facebook itself demonstrated that the number of Facebook fans a candidate had in the US mid term elections was a good predictor of election night results.
Tweets have also been shown to correlate neatly to sales. Research by Hewlett Packard showed that tweet volume was a very good predicter of box office success in the film industry. Indiana University demonstrated that tweet sentiment on a given day could predict the direction of changes on the Dow Jones three days later with an accuracy of 86.7%.
Recent TNS data shows that 30% of peoples leisure time is now spent online. In volume terms it overtook email in 2009! 90% of mobile traffic is still however just voice….yet those who access social networks via mobile do so at twice the rate as their non mobile counterparts.
Who isn’t going to own a Smartphone or device in the next few years? Who isn’t going to put Facebook and Twitter at the centre of their marketing?

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I received an interesting offer this week. If I plugged a company’s Ugg boots on this blog, they would pay me $50. Product placement is about to become big business in the UK. As of tomorrow, companies will be able to place products in programming. ITV’s “This Morning” is leading the way with a coffee machine from Nestle. Look forward to a “P” appearing on your screen warning you that what follows is marketing managers dream rather than necessarily..reality. It will be interesting to see how ITV manage this editorially and how consumers receive it. It’s clearly not as powerful as earned editorial but it’s another useful addition to the marketing mix.


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There’s a fantastic article in the Economist this week talking about the revolution happening in the manufacturing sector. This revolution is being driven by the falling price of 3D printing – a technology that allows you to build a three dimensional object from something that can be no bigger than a laser printer.

The implications of this are potentially huge. Imagine a world where you can customise almost everything at a touch of a button and still produce it at the same price as mass production. Imagine a world without factories…a world where every town or village has one of these printers churning out everything from lampshades to spectacles…all from digital files supplied by you and me. This will takes co-creation to the next level…to an individual level. Amazing!

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I’m off to Venice for the weekend. It’s an important wedding anniversary and I thought I would get into the “good books” of you know who.

Have you used TripAdvisor recently? In a moment of boredom I’ve just checked out the hotel I’ve booked. Helpfully this is the review…

Don’t waste your money..try a 2 star hotel instead. Customer service equated to 0% the place lacks any soul and warmth and actually was exhausting to stay in, the breakfast was medocre for the rating and found all of the staff extremely unfriendly, our air con was not working requested 4 times for it to be looked at with no avail, was ignored when asking about the internet facility

Hmmm…..what to believe?

Social media advocacy was of course supposed to be the dawn of true power people, allowing us to cut through others agendas and get us directly to the facts. Unfortunately as this weeks Marketing magazine highlights it’s not yet quite as perfect as we had hoped.

Marketing reports that several hundred hoteliers have given strong indications that they are planning a group defamation action against TripAdvisor after less than flattering reviews. One included  “owners dog urinating on grotty carpet as we checked in’. Their point being that many of these reviews are malicious. Ebay of course have had the same problems.

Advocacy is clearly coming of age. Today most reviews are still filled in by honest good intentioned people who want to help others. There are clearly a few out there however who have other intentions. As with the traditional media environment these individuals have to be tackled, there must be the right of reply and wherever possible the true intentions of these individuals should be exposed.

The advice to anybody looking at customer reviews is to look at average scores rather than the extremes. The advice to companies or individuals that have been unfairly criticised is to answer this criticism and where possible tackle the intentions behind the reviews.

Thankfully my Venice hotel has a five star average rating …. but let me get back to you on the reality!

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