josh bernoff

Think you need to incentivize your customers to recommend you? Think again!

By leveraging Zuberance...

  • Chili’s identified a brand army of nearly 1 million strong who published 50,000 reviews on Yelp and shared 320,000 offers on Facebook, Twitter, and email.
  • Each Advocate of Blurb (a print-on-demand publishing service) that recommend the company, brought in 1.6 new customers.
  • 30% of Intuit’s Advocates have written reviews and shared offers with their social networks.

When I tell people what Zuberance is all about and the results we’ve seen from companies energizing their Advocates, here's most common response I get (from marketers and non-marketers alike): “So how exactly do you incentivize people to make these recommendations?”

The answer is simple: We don’t! (As explained by Zuberance Founder/CEO, Rob Fuggetta, here)

The last time you went to an exceptional restaurant, you probably went to work on Monday and raved about the best steak you’d ever had to your colleagues. What did that restaurant give you for the recommendation? What about the smart phone you suggested to your cousin or the bottle of wine you recommended for your sister-in-law? How much did those companies pay you?

So what motivates a recommendation? Take a look:

Recommending brands and products is not a selfish action. However, if you encourage your customers to talk about you by leveraging a selfish motive (such as referral programs), it taints the recommendation. This makes your customer look bad because he’s trying to score some cash or reward points at their friend’s expense; and it makes you, as a brand, look bad because it’s basically telling your customers, “Look, since our product isn’t worth talking about genuinely, how about I give you some rewards points to do it and we’ll call it even.”

Keep recommendations for your brand authentic by going above and beyond to please your customers (becoming “customer-obsessed” as Josh Bernoff put it in a recent Forrester report.) Then, you won’t have to worry about paying or incentivizing your customers to talk about you. Because let's be real, that’s just lame anyway.

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

Top 5 Takeaways from “Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer”

Forrester Research Inc Analyst, Josh Bernoff, released a report recently entitled, “Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer.” The report discusses the only sustainable competitive advantage in the current customer-centric era: engagement. Below are some highlights from the report.

  • Key takeaway: Companies need to adjust their business strategy from being customer focused to customer obsessed. The proliferation of social media has disrupted every industry and created empowered consumers. They now have the tools to rave about your products, complain about your customer service, or follow your brand within the interconnected social web.  Customer obsession should be business’ #1 priority over any other strategic imperative.
  • Value versatility over lock-in. Focus your strategy, energy, and budget on processes that improve knowledge of and engagement with customers that take priority over maintaining traditional competitive barriers. Don’t back your “loyal” customers into a corner through contracts and proprietary technology. Instead, aim to create authentic advocacy by adjusting to customer needs. Enthusiastic repeat business is much more valuable than content customers (who might actually be detractors) that are stuck in a contract.
  • We are now in an empowered-customer-centric era. Shift your thoughts and budget accordingly. As Ian Wolfman of imc2 said, “Stop using ads to cover up a weak reputation and unhappy customers. Prioritize Word of Mouth over mouthing off.” Bernoff suggests cutting 10% of your traditional advertising budget and reallocating it to strategies that include a viral potential like social, devices, and content. Ads are far more effective when consumers are primed to believe them through the influence of their peers.
  • Find ways to sell more to current customers and get them to recommend your brand to their networks. New customers are more expensive to acquire than repeat customers; and repeat customers are much more accessible. Let your current customers, particularly you’re Advocates who are willing and ready to spread their enthusiasm, be your customer acquisition force by making it easy for them to recommend your brand.
  • Measurement is key. Prove your word of mouth marketing efforts are successful but measuring results. Appropriate metrics will vary across companies, but companies must measure campaigns that can tie back to business results such as leads, database sign-ups, inbound clicks, etc.

Brands- Stop thinking that all eyes and ears are on you. All eyes and ears are actually on your customers. Download “Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer” here.

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance