Advocate Recommendations: Much Stickier than Olympic Sponsorships

Do you know who's sponsoring the 2012 Summer Olympics in London? According to, it's statistically understandable if you don't. A survey by Toluna Global Omnibus found that many consumers are unable to correctly state who sponsors The Olympics.

Out of the 1,034 U.S. Consumers surveyed...

  • 19% incorrectly identified Burger King as an Olympic sponsor vs. the 40% who correctly identified McDonald's as a sponsor.
  • 28% incorrectly identified Pepsi as an Olympic sponsor vs. the 47% who correctly identified Coca-Cola as a sponsor.
  • 37% incorrectly identified Nike as an Olympic sponsor vs. the 24% who correctly identified Adidas as a sponsor.

In the eyes of an Ad Man (I've been watching MadMen recently) this data is not impressive. Not only do brand advertisements fail to stick in consumers' heads, many consumers think that brand competitors are in fact sponsoring The Olympics. Adidas must be pissed.

Attaching your name to The Olympics is expensive. AdAge reports that Adidas spent £100 million ($156,570,000) on its Olympic Marketing in the last four years, part of which gave Adidas exclusive marketing rights within the United Kingdom. Why should Adidas waste their money if when asked who sponsors The Olympics, more consumers say Nike?

Marketers are spending money in all the wrong places. Instead, brands should invest in finding and activating their most effective salespeople- their Brand Advocates. In an earlier ZuberRants postRob Fuggetta breaks down what a brand could achieve through an advocacy program instead of investing $3 Million in a 30-sec Super Bowl ad. We're talking 2 million energized Advocates, 10 million authentic recommendations, and a 10X ROA (Return on Advocacy).

Adidas, I encourage you to put more eggs in the Advocacy basket. Because let's face it, consumers don't trust brands, they trust their friends.

-Beau Cowan, Marketing Coordinator, Zuberance

To Build Consumer Trust, Brand Advocates Are the Key

These days, the consumer decision journey is more fragmented than ever. Shoppers have an abundant amount of online resources to help them decide which product to purchase and where. With so much information at their fingertips, trust and authenticity are key factors of influencing purchases. recently conducted a study (featured in eMarketer) that found that there are 10 primary trust “elements,” or cues, that brands must establish in order to engender trust, including accuracy, expertise and transparency. 84% of respondents felt that brands needed to prove themselves trustworthy before they would interact with them.

In a social media context, the #1 way (at 41%) that brands can build trust with customers/prospects is allowing them to see reviews from people in their social networks.

Now, I know what you're thinking...How can I get more positive reviews on social networks?

By finding and activating your best customers- your Brand Advocates! Your Advocates won't just write any review. They'll write reviews that are oozing with enthusiasm and excitement. Parallels, a desktop virtualization software company, has energized its Advocates to create and publish reviews on Amazon. The average of star rating was 4.7/5 stars which boosted Parallels' star rating on Amazon from 3.5 to 4.5.

But wait! Advocates' advocacy doesn't stop at just reviews. As Lauren McCadney, head of social media for CDW and a Top 2012 Digital Marketer would say, “A review created by an Advocate is only one manifestation of advocacy. This is just the start of a relationship with Advocates, not the end.”

Brand Advocates are eager to be part of your brand. The question is, how do you want your Advocates to support you? Click here to read 7 ways (beyond reviews) to turn your Advocates into a marketing force.

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

Coke CMO: Advocacy Has Overtaken Loyalty as the Holy Grail For Brands

Since GM pulled their investment in Facebook Advertising (and are apparently considering returning), the effectiveness of Facebook ads has become a hot topic. At this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Coca-Cola CMO Joseph Tripodi defended Facebook against naysayers. According to MarketingWeek, Tripodi believes that Facebook is still in infancy and we should be more focused on what it stands for (building relationships) rather than the platform itself.

“[Facebook] is at the early stages and we’re still learning how we engage and leverage it, but this hysteria that I’ve seen lately [about Facebook], I think it’s very short-termist and not thinking about the long term implications and the implications of engaging with people on that kind of platform.”

The real value in Facebook is that it's a channel to develop and energize Brand Advocates which, according to Tripodi, "has overtaken loyalty as the holy grail for brands.”

“I used to think that loyalty was at the top of the pyramid of classic marketing awareness model, but now it’s advocates. If you can turn people that love your brand from passive loyalists to advocates you create a type of network advantage that means your brand will stay relevant. We all know that losing relevance is the worst thing that can happen to your brand.”

How do you get these passive loyalists to become active Advocates?

Three words: Make it easy! Give Advocates online tools to share their enthusiasm whether it's writing reviews, creating testimonials, sharing offers and other content with their friends, answering prospects' questions, and more.

Here's how three top brands are staying relevant by turning loyalists into raving Brand Advocates:

Beyond loyalty, Advocacy has become the ultimate goal for marketers. Gaining repeat customers is incredibly valuable, but that only really gets you to third base. In order to hit a grand slam, brands must mobilize their best customers to become a virtual marketing force (whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, third party review sites, etc) that will drive leads, sales, and positive Word of Mouth.

-Beau Cowan, Marketing Coordinator, Zuberance

An Attribution Model for Word of Mouth

Attribution models are used by search marketers to give equal credit to all ads the user clicks on in the purchase path, not just the final ad. Word of Mouth (WOM) also needs an attribution model.

The example below shows how WOM plays a highly influential role in a consumer’s restaurant dining choice: (Note that I’ve simplified the purchase decision process to illustrate the point about the value of WOM.)

  • Awareness: Customer learns about restaurant via WOM recommendation from friend.
  • Consideration: Customer reads positive reviews about restaurant on Yelp. Again, WOM plays a key role.
  • Purchase: Customer goes to OpenTable and makes restaurant reservation.
  • Advocacy: Customer recommends restaurant to his friends, which leads to additional purchases.

In the example above, OpenTable would get credit for the purchase because it was the final click in the purchase path. However, WOM deserves credit for heavily influencing the purchase decision. In fact, without the initial WOM recommendation and the positive reviews of the restaurant on Yelp, the consumer probably would never have chosen the restaurant. This means that WOM should actually get more credit than the click or last action immediately before the purchase.

Since WOM plays a highly influential role in the two steps leading up to the purchase, the restaurant should give credit to WOM for at least two-thirds of the value that it currently gives to OpenTable. If the restaurant is paying $2 to OpenTable for each reservation, WOM deserves $1.32 of the credit for this reservation. (OpenTable charges a pay-for-performance fee of $1 per seated diner booked on OpenTable.)

By the way, this doesn’t take into consideration the value of the fourth stage in the decision process - advocacy - where the customer recommends the restaurant to his or her friends.

To sum up, then, here’s a simple way to assign value to WOM:

  1. Model the customer decision process.
  2. Analyze what role WOM plays at each step in the customer’s purchase decision process.
  3. Assign value to the role of WOM based on what you currently pay for the last click or action before the purchase occurs.

This attribution model isn’t perfect (very few are.) But at least it can help you analyze the value of WOM in the purchase decision process.

-Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance

One Negative Review Leads to a Lawsuit

One man, posting anonymously under the username “JT”, shared his thoughts of his rented apartment’s property management company on Yelp.  The result: the company is suing JT for defamation.  Needless to say, this raises numerous questions about what we can and cannot, or should and should not be writing online.  Do your online reviews and recommendations fall under your First Amendment rights to freedom of speech?  JT maintains that what he wrote was “not pretty, but it was true.”  The property management company claims his opinion is welcome but they merely wanted to clear up inaccuracies. For business, making the hasty decision to file a lawsuit over a detracting comment, post, or review may be the worst idea…ever.  It just continues a stream of bad press.  Instead, see this detractor as a huge opportunity to flex your customer service skills.  Acknowledge, respond in a timely manner, and try to solve the problem to the benefit of both parties.

I recently had a somewhat similar situation happen on the Facebook page of my family’s business, a small dairy company in New Jersey. One of our customers had a displeasing trip to one of our stores where an employee treated him rudely.  He was so miffed that he felt the need to write a lengthy and disapproving post on our wall.  I wrote him back privately and told him that we were extremely surprised and saddened to hear about his experience, guaranteed we would speak to the employees working on the offending night, and offered him coupons to come back to the store.  He wrote me back and said he “appreciated my response” and was “glad to feel welcomed again”.  Did I need to incentivize him?  Probably not.  But, what’s important is that instead of deleting the post from Facebook and ignoring it – I took 5 minutes to address his concern and make sure we didn’t lose a customer.  Any company should (and can) use social media to its fullest advantage – creating ample amounts of Advocates willing to recommend you.  Oh, and JT’s lawsuit has since been withdrawn.  Seems the property management company found a better way to handle the situation.

-Lucy Arnold, Marketing Intern, Zuberance