Extreme Brand Advocate Story: MINI Advocate’s MAXImum Advocacy #Energize

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book, “Energize! How to Turn Fans, Followers, and Loyal Customers into Social Media Marketing Machines,” by Rob Fuggetta, Founder & CEO, Zuberance.

George Hamma is an owner of a BMW MINI. But there’s nothing small about his passion for his beloved car.

Hamma, a youthful-looking 65, enthusiastically recommends MINI to hundreds of his friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers.

The Sunnyvale, CA resident is an active member of the Northern California chapter of the MINI owner’s club. He also shares his passion for MINI on his Facebook page, Twitter @ghamma, and on his personal website, where Hamma – an avid photographer – posts photos of MINI owners’ rallies.

Hamma is an active participant at NorthAmericanMotoring.com, a site where MINI owners meet to talk about their cars and motoring (about 16,500 members). Hamma has engaged in hundreds of conversations with current and (possibly) future MINI owners.

That’s George in the photo standing proudly next to his MINI, a 2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4, which he named “Fenton” in honor of a local ice cream parlor where his favorite flavor is also black and tan like his MINI.

MINI’s Super Salesperson

As a direct result of his advocacy, six friends have bought MINI’s. At about $35,000 per MINI, Hamma has generated about $200,000 in revenues for BMW, making Hamma one of MINI’s best – and certainly one of its most cost-effective  – sales people.

MINI hasn’t given Hamma anything – not even a MINI t-shirt or key chain – in exchange for his advocacy. “I recommend MINI because it’s fun to drive. It’s a great product,” says Hamma. “Every time I drive my MINI, I get a big smile on my face,” he adds.

Hamma says he’s such an effective Advocate of MINI that his local MINI dealership has suggested he join their sales team.

“My local MINI dealership wants me to come in and sell MINIs for them,” laughs Hamma. “Hmmm...wonder how much that pays?” he chuckles.

Singing MINI’s Praises

A while back, Hamma enthusiastically recommended MINI to a fellow member of a professional chorus.

“I’m not kidding. The very next week she shows up at chorus practice in her new MINI. Same model as mine,” Hamma says.

Mad about Motoring

Hamma is a car enthusiast who drove BMW cars in the 1960s and 70s on the rally circuit. He occasionally takes lunch breaks from his job as a senior product tester at a Silicon Valley tech company by driving his MINI “quickly around twisty little roads” near the company.

“The other day I went over there and thrashed it pretty good. I came back to the office with a big smile on my face,” he says.

MAXImum Word of Mouth

MINI is one of those passion brands with millions of Advocates and enthusiasts like Hamma. MINI stokes this passion with the MINI Owner’s Lounge, a private, online community for MINI owners; MINI owner rallies and special events; online reviews and more. Plus, MINI gets plenty of organic positive Word of Mouth from user-created online communities, forums, events, and more.

MINI Hazard

One of the few drawbacks of owning a MINI, Hamma says, is that it has caused him to have a sore right shoulder.

“Every now and then, my wife will remind me if I’m driving a little too fast,” chuckles Hamma.

An occasional sore shoulder is a small price to pay for the fun of driving his black and tan MINI, says Hamma. “I tell all my friends and colleagues: If you want to have fun driving, go get yourself a MINI. You will not regret it,” he says.

Read more: “Energize! How to Turn Fans, Followers, and Loyal Customers into Social Media Marketing Machines”

Read more: Extreme Brand Advocate Stories

-Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance

Extreme Brand Advocate Story: "Starbucks Melody" Goes La La for Lattes #Energize

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book, “Energize! How to Turn Fans, Followers, and Loyal Customers into Social Media Marketing Machines,” by Rob Fuggetta, Founder & CEO, Zuberance. Melody Overton of Seattle is such a passionate Starbucks Advocate that her moniker is “Starbucks Melody.”

“I’ve been called Starbucks Melody even when I’m in the courtroom,” laughs Overton, an attorney who works in downtown Seattle, not far from where Starbucks was founded at Pike Place Market in March 1971.

Starbucks has more than 24 million fans on Facebook and 1.6 million Twitter followers, as of August 2011. But it’s hard to imagine any Starbucks customer more knowledgeable or passionate about Starbucks than Starbucks Melody.

Overton probably knows more about Starbucks than most Starbucks employees including their baristas (not unusual for Advocates of Starbucks and other brands.) When Overton talks about Starbucks, you can hear the excitement in her voice, like she’s had a few too many lattes.

Overton is the author of a popular blog all about Starbucks entitled “StarbucksMelody.com.” She also tweets about Starbucks (@SbuxMel), where she has about 4,000 followers. Overton is not a Starbucks employee or paid consultant. “I’m not on Starbucks’ payroll. They’ve never even given me a gift card,” she points out. Instead, like millions of other Advocates of other brands, Overton recommends Starbucks because she wants to share her authentic enthusiasm for Starbucks with others.

A Passion for Coffee

“I have a passion for coffee,” says Overton, who visits her local Starbucks “ritualistically twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.” Her favorite Starbucks coffees are the reserve blends prepared in Starbucks Clover® brewing system, found in some Starbucks stores. On those rare warm summer afternoons in Seattle – for Seattle, that means anything over 70 degrees – Overton likes drinking Starbucks iced passion tea or iced green tea.

“I like the way it (coffee) really has the ability to bring people together,” writes Overton in her blog. “I like the conversations around it. I like being able to have a common ground to connect with people about. Most of all, I fall in love with those moments when you can see some deep joy in a person’s eyes over discovering a new coffee, learning about coffee, or just hanging around the coffee – even if not drinking it.”

Her favorite Starbucks store? “Oooh, that’s a tough question. But like I’ve said on my blog, very high up there would be the store at First & Pike in Seattle, at the entrance to the Pike Place Market. It has beautiful design. The customer service is good. And it was the first Starbucks store to get two Clovers,” Overton says.

Melody Gets “Totally Sucked In”

Overton’s love affair with Starbucks began when she moved to Seattle in 1989 from nearby Tacoma, Washington, where she was in the air force. Overton’s attraction to Starbucks was as strong as Starbuck’s Italian roast.

Overton’s passion for Starbucks kicked into high gear in 2008, when Howard Shultz came out of retirement to the revive the faltering company, which he said had lost some of its “romance” and “soul” as it became a global behemoth. In a highly unusual move, Starbucks actually closed down all of its stores on February 26, 2008 for one evening to train its baristas.

“2008 just rattled me. What an insane year that was for me, as a Starbucks lover. I said to myself: ‘Wow, this is really cool.’ I just got totally sucked in. I became so excited about Starbucks,” says Overton. She was particularly impressed by the launch in April 2008 of MyStarbucksidea.com, Starbucks’s first online community. “I loved it! I felt like I really had a voice; that I could connect with Starbucks and with other people like me and make a difference,” she says.

Melody’s Most Memorable Starbucks Moment

Overton’s most memorable Starbucks moment occurred three years later in January 2011, when she attended the official unveiling of Starbucks’s updated logo. “That was amazing,” says Overton, one of only three consumers Starbucks invited to the event, held at the company’s headquarters in Seattle. “Oh my God, I even got my picture taken with (Starbucks CEO) Howard Shultz. When I walked out of there I was on cloud nine. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven,” she gushes.

Rampant Starbucks Advocacy

Overton continues advocating Starbucks today to readers of her blog, Twitter followers, family, friends, colleagues, and just about anyone who’ll listen. “I’ve been known to randomly bring up Starbucks in all sorts of places, even when I’m sitting in a hair salon,” laughs Overton.

“The hardest people to sell Starbucks to aren’t in Seattle,” says Overton. “People here are hugely over-caffeinated,” she states. “My biggest accomplishment was when I got my sister-in-law, who lives in southern California, to drink a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte,” says Overton.

Exactly how many people has Overton converted to the Starbucks religion as a result of her rampant advocacy? “Hmmm, I’m not sure. It’s probably in the hundreds, or more.”

“I’ll have to ponder that over a French press,” she chuckles.

Read more: “Energize! How to Turn Fans, Followers, and Loyal Customers into Social Media Marketing Machines”

Read more: Extreme Brand Advocate Stories

-Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance

Energize! New Book Coming Soon from Zuberance Founder #Energize

My biggest inspiration at Zuberance has always been our customers like Intuit, Rubio’s, and CDW and their fanatical Brand Advocates. Now, I’m putting their stories in a book, entitled Energize! How to Turn Fans, Followers, and Enthusiastic Customers into Social Media Marketing Machines.”

In the coming weeks, you’ll get sneak previews of the book here on the ZuberRants blog.


There are lots of books about social media.

(My friend Michael Brito has a new book called “Smart Business, Social Business.” I highly recommend it.)

But until now, there hasn’t been a book on how to turn Advocates into a marketing force.

Energize! fills that gap.


Energize! isn’t a social media marketing book, per se.

It’s about passionate Brand Advocates like George Hamma, an avid BMW Mini Advocate whose enthusiastic recommendations have inspired five friends to buy their own Mini’s, worth about $200,000 to BMW; Melody Overton (AKA “Starbucks Melody”), a Seattle attorney who is a walking Starbucks encyclopedia and who knows more about Starbucks than its baristas; and Justin Dorfman, a CDW Champion, whose enthusiastic recommendations have driven several hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales for the online IT retailer. (Read: Extreme Brand Advocate Stories.)

And it’s about innovative marketers and visionary business leaders that are transforming their companies and delivering ground-breaking marketing results by activating their Brand Armies. People like Lauren McCadney, who is championing advocacy at CDW; Porter Gale, a social media rock-star and former CMO at Virgin America; and Eric Ryan, the CEO of Method Products, whose avid customers (“People Against Dirty”) have turned household cleaners into a social movement.


Today, as the power has shifted from marketers to social-media powered consumers, getting more “social recommendations” (recommendations on the social web) has become the Holy Grail. Seventy-one percent of marketers say advocacy is now a top priority.

Energize! will show you how.

You’ll learn how to energize your Brand Army by getting them to recommend your brand and products via reviews, stories, answers to prospects’ questions, sharing promotional offers and content, and more.

Energize! will feature more than 100 real-world case studies, profiles of Brand Advocates and marketers, plus tips and tricks on how to build and activate your Brand Army.

I hope you have as much fun reading Energize! as I’m having writing it.

Stay tuned.

-Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance