Posts tagged ‘brand evangelists’
During the 90’s I was running around Asia listening to business executives about their needs for IT systems and support services. There were two main methodologies that I used, focus groups and one-on-one interviews. In the first, I sat behind one-way mirrors and observed executives, in the other I would engage them in a one-on-one conversation. Both were valuable, but the latter approach would always yield far greater insight.
The reason was simple. By being able to engage an executive in a conversational experience allowed me to adjust the questions based on their needs and their aspirations. As such, I could delve into both to understand what the pains were behind their needs and what the passions were behind their aspirations.
This is strategic insight.
It is very difficult to gain this strategic insight in a group setting because it is hard to have the laser-like focus you need to delve deep below the surface and people feel far more guarded when they are talking amongst their peers. On-on-one interviews are most effective.
But insight is what is critical for shaping effective strategies. If you can begin to find the commonalities of the needs and the commonalities of the aspirations and align your brand around those, a tremendous amount of focused, innovative energy has the potential of being released.
If this is all true, then we need to develop new ways of listening powered by new, web-enabled, tools.
In my previous post, I wrote about how the Portland software community was engaged through successive surveys, each smarter and more focused than the last. Okay, now they’re on board. But can you really measure the likelihood that an industry will succeed? Sure.
We use NPS for customer satisfaction analysis when we work for companies. It occurred to me – why not use it for entire industries? If people are passionate about their cluster, whether it’s the South Bend Tourism board or the California semiconductor industry, they’ll thrive, and NPS can measure that passion.
For our survey of the Portland software cluster, we asked if people would recommend Portland to an industry colleague as a place to do business. When we started, we had as many detractors as promoters – an NPS of 0%. That meant that if you talked to someone about the city, there was a good chance they would trash it. No wonder the software sector wasn’t going anywhere.
Six months later, the NPS is 23%. Our goal is to bring that to 40% over next 2 years, and we’ll make it. When we reach the goal, people will be fighting to put out their shingle here. Portland already has the talented people. Once they’re all brand evangelists for the city, it’s a done deal.
I really liked this infographic from Flowtown. It tells a valuable story.
Often, when clients talk to me about marketing activities, they’re talking about acquiring new customers. I’ll ask them how good they are at upselling and cross-selling, how loyal their customers are, and how many brand evangelists they have. Usually a blank stare follows.
The reason is that marketing executives are measured – or feel they’re measured – by acquisition. Cross-selling doesn’t have the same glamor. It’s not the same feather in their cap.
I always recommend that, before you reach out to the market at large, you do what I call inside-out marketing:
- Understand what’s happening inside your existing customer relationships
- Find the profile of your best, most loyal customers. Who are they, what do they look like?
- Only then, turn outside and find more people that fit their profile.
Inside-out marketing offers a couple of advantages:
- It helps you uncover unexpected sources of revenue
- It helps you better understand your value proposition before you take it on the road
So when you reach out to external market, you’ll have a better sense of which value proposition resonates with which type of customer. Your aim will be that much sharper.
Talk to your friendlies first, the ones who want you to succeed. It’s not only gives you a higher marketing ROI, it ultimately makes you smarter and more effective. So what’s not to like?
A few days ago Chris Koch’s blog mentioned some comments by a senior marketing exec at the ITSMA Marketing Leadership Forum. The unnamed marketer’s thesis, in brief:
- Marketers are being forced to overemphasize lead gen activities, which they’re not particularly good at
- Marketers are good at the “mysterious arts of reputation, idea marketing, segmentation, and value propositions”
- Marketers should do “what we really do well—the creative, right-brained stuff.”
His prescription in brief: define and track leads, don’t expect too many leads from marketing, and take a long view in judging marketing efforts.
Underneath, what I hear is that, because they’re being graded on a part of the job they don’t like or do well, marketers are worried that the grownups aren’t taking them seriously. So what to do? Go back to the days when brand management was their main bailiwick.
What’s wrong with that? Everything.
First: to say that lead generation is an unpleasant duty, and that we really need to be understood for the parts of the job we do better (and which, coincidentally, are difficult to measure) is to discount the reason that marketing was pushed into lead generation to start with: survival.
These are very difficult times, and the recession has been very disruptive. All decisions are being made in survival mode, and leads are an essential component of survival. When you’re engaged in a death struggle, long-term benefits of brand management don’t look so important.
Which is not to say that lead generation isn’t a distraction from the main goal of marketing – it is. But not because marketing is lousy at it.
Which brings me to the second, and more important point: this view of marketing doesn’t take into account the potential of marketing, and where it needs to go.
Marketing is not chiefly about brands – it’s about the customer conversation. Your survival depends on the passion of your customers – how far they’re willing to go to buy your stuff and recommend it to others.
The brand is part of that, but it’s a means to a successful customer conversation, not the end.
Here’s the core issue: as a marketer, your real job is not to generate leads or manage the brand – it’s to listen strategically to customers. You need to recognize that your survival is measured by the depth of your relationships with customers.
Marketing’s role is to define strategic listening within the organization, listening that will allow you to deepen the relationship, generate better leads and guide the innovation process.
Your essential function as a marketer is to be the vehicle by which your customer’s voice is articulated in your company. You can do that better than everyone else. And when you do, and when your customers know you’re listening, you can turn them into brand evangelists.
Do that job well – really well – and you won’t have to worry about being taken seriously anymore.
Seth Godin has a good point when he says:
The people who work the hardest to get referrals, it seems to me, are the people who least deserve them.
If you need tips on how to get referrals, there are plenty around. But they’re of no use if people aren’t impressed with what you have to offer, or if they don’t trust you. As Godin states, people give referrals when they like what they’ve experienced.
So why are people buying the books and going to the seminars on referrals? It’s the old mistake of confusing looking good and doing good. Tactics like offering incentives and carefully timing your referral request get adopted so the ones who adopt them can look good – they can report that they’re following the latest techniques for getting referrals. Their arsenal is up to date.
Except people tend to care more about their friends and colleagues than they do about your product or service. If you’re selling a dud, why should they refer you, and ruin their credibility? Because you asked nicely? Because of your timing?
Building a relationship and creating trust is what leads to a referral. Don’t worry about looking good. Do good, and you’ll get plenty of referrals down the road.
Have you gone down that road yet?
Just a reminder to non-marketing geeks: you get the Net Promoter Score by taking the percentage of people who are highly likely to recommend a company (Promoters), and subtracting those who are unlikely to (Detractors). Examples of companies with high NPS are Jet Blue, Verizon, and (surprise!) Apple. All did well in a market that hasn’t been easy on most companies and sectors. The Church asks:
Could it be that the customers of these NPS stars are recommending them at higher rates resulting in increased revenues? Seems reasonable enough.
It’s more than reasonable – it’s a reinforcement of what we’ve known for a long time: the long-term strategic impact of brand evangelism (brand evangelists are another term for promoters). When you understand the impact of your promoters, you start to move away from short-term quarter-to-quarter performance thinking to the long view: building an army of brand evangelists who do your marketing work for you.
Today I have a guest spot on The 1to1 Blog. Here’s your hall pass: