Advocacy and Customer Experience are key components of my research agenda on go-to-market strategies. Prior to joining Gartner, I shared a blog post (that you can find here) on the CustomerThink community asking if we are under-investing in advocacy, particularly in the technology sector. I’ve shared a shortened version of that post below as a reference.
Do you agree or disagree with some of the ideas below? If you are a technology provider doing interesting things to encourage and support the customers that are acting as advocates for your brand, I’d love to hear about it to help expand our body of research in this area. I look forward to speaking with you.
Do You Under-Invest in Advocacy?
Often when people talk about the social media phenomenum, they seem to be focused on the risk of brand damage. People bring up stories like “United Breaks Guitars” (purposely not linked here due to the focus of the article) and cite how much more likely people are to share bad experiences than good ones. As a result, there is a tendency to focus on social “listening” activities to making sure that brand damage is not occurring.
While I am a fan of “listening”, I think focusing primarily on ”brand protection” is a mistake and a missed opportunity. An associate of mine, Steven Webster (who is now with Microsoft) pointed out an interesting quote from Bill Bernbach, one of advertising’s greatest thinkers and the father of the “Think Small” campaign for Volkswagen, and the AVIS “We are number 2, so we try harder” campaign.
“We are so busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mold it. We are so busy listening to statistics we forget that we can create them.”
The idea of “creating statistics” is reinforced by some information I’ve cited before that I found in a blog post at MackCollier.com and will quote it here again:
“Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have concluded that it only takes 10 percent of a population holding an unshakable belief in order to convince the majority to adopt that same belief. In fact, the scientists found that this will always be the case.”
These ideas make me think we may be spending money in the wrong places. I’ve yet to see anyone make the focus of their marketing program the development of a strong (10% or greater) base of advocates. Do you ever here businesses talk about the number of strong brand advocates they have? Rarely, but they will talk about the number of people that “like” them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter–regardless of the level of engagement in these broad audiences. Putting advocacy development at the core of your social business strategy should be a priority. Remember it only takes a passionate 10% to sway the majority, but your brand needs to find the right targets for the number of advocates it wants to develop and nurture. Establishing and tracking these goals is key to social success. It would be great to hear companies spend more time talking about the size of their advocate community more often than their broad follower numbers.
And imagine the power of a passionate 10% coming to your defense when something bad happens. It is worth more proactive consideration and investment.
Just to recap, if you are a technology provider with some interesting advocacy programs, please reach out to me. I’d love to hear about your programs and results.