How can brand advocates guide businesses through the new media maze?

Reading Time: 2 minutes While word-of-mouth is (and always has been) considered influential, the mainstream adoption of social media means corporations need new marketing models to manage their way through the new media marketing maze.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

New media is providing corporations the opportunity to reassess commonly accepted marketing practices.  At the top of my list is the marketing/purchase funnel.According to Wikipedia, the marketing/purchase funnel was developed in 1898.  The marketing/purchase funnel suggests to marketers that a customer gets pushed along a purchase path that starts at ‘awareness’ and ends at ‘purchase’.

An article by David Edelman (McKinsey & Company) in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) suggests the ‘Customer Decision Journey’ (listed below) is a more relevant approach to marketing in a new media environment.

Brands need to pay greater attention to post purchase experiences that influence whether or not a customer enters ‘the loyalty loop’ as shown below.

Using the model listed above, brands need to increase the importance they place on ‘brand advocates’. Something the marketing/purchase funnel doesn’t address.

Research conducted by Dr Kathleen R. Ferris-Costa (University of Rhode Island, College of Business Administration) shows brand advocates are motivated by being perceived as thought leaders and to be seen as a good resource by the brand.

The stat that jumped out at me was most brand advocates are three times more likely to relax by sharing product information versus general web users surveyed.

While word-of-mouth is (and always has been) considered influential, the mainstream adoption of social media means corporations need new marketing models to manage their way through the new media marketing maze.

In a social media driven marketplace, servicing the customer needs to go beyond sales, billing and returns.  Servicing the customer needs to be about enhancing the pursuit of passions and interests the product/service enables.

Larry Kramer wrote an article for HBR titled “How French Innovators Are Putting the “Social” Back In Social Networking.  Krammer tells the story how Arnaud Deschamps, president of Nespresso France (Nestle coffee) increased his investment in call centres even though call centre sales dropped by 70%.

Instead of reducing costs and eliminating the call centres, Deschamps turned his call centres into information centres that employ ‘coffee specialists’.

“Nespresso’s customers love the product and love learning more about it, Deschamps says. It makes them feel smart, in much the same way wine drinkers do when they are knowledgeable about what they are drinking.”

To socialise the corporation, brands need to learn how to brand from the ‘inside out’. Branding from the ‘inside out’ requires brands to:

  1. Step out from behind their print/TV ads and seek out brand advocates.  Socially enabled brand advocates have likely already self identified themselves on your social media properties.
  2. Understand (empathise) how their products/services tickle the pleasure centres of their brand advocates.
  3. Celebrate and nurture how their products and services enable customers to enjoy their passions and interests.  Brands need to seek deeper relationships using online and offline events.

What would you add or subtract from the list above?  

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1 thought on “How can brand advocates guide businesses through the new media maze?

  1. FYI – this was a comment left on my Google+ page in response to the post.  Great comment about the need for ‘brand depth.  Mike

    Walter Adamson – You ask “What would you add or subtract from the list above?”The emphasis in your post is on the outward effort to engage with advocates and influencers. I think what is missing is that without intense “inward” engagement across a firm, probably from the top down, then the outward effort is very likely to come unstuck. I would call this aspect “brand depth”. Things can run well for a while without this being sorted. But when real issues occur things quickly fall apart for customers and advocates if brand depth has not been operationalised.This is probably the hardest part of transforming into a social enterprise, and so far from the oft heard “oh we have someone helping us with a social media strategy” that it’s not funny. The former is a complex business issue and the latter usually a marketing campaign. Knowing what constitutes brand depth and setting out to operationalise it ensures that investments in advocates are not wasted.

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