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WORK[etc] Insiders: rewarding our true champions

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Affiliate or Advocate?

By far the best marketing we’ve ever done, is the marketing we never actually did.

That is to say the best marketing has been the marketing our customers have done for us. The casual mention of WORK[etc] at an industry conference or the spontaneous tweet in reaction to a big WORK[etc] “aha!” moment.

This type of genuine, honest and real conversation is really what has driven our growth. All the sales blurbs, industry reviews and feature articles, whilst they have their place for sure, seem to always be met with a degree of inherent cynicism – at least that is how I personally view most marketing materials.

Everyday we’re sprayed by sales messages and marketing promises. According to research firm Yankelovich we can expect to be exposed to over 5000 marketing messages every day. Read a gushing online review and you start to wonder if it is real or not, hell these people will write you a 5-star review for 5 dollars.

But get a genuine, honest and real recommendation from a friend or colleague you trust and all that doubt vanishes.

This is where we have always done well.

McKinsey has found that word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions; and 50% to 80% of word-of-mouth comes directly as a result of personal experience with a positive or service.

So, the big question then, is how does a business encourage more of this advocacy, more often, from more people yet stay on message and on brand, without compromising independence?

One strategy we tried last year was with an affiliate program that rewarded ‘introducers’ a commission for promoting and recommending WORK[etc]. It was an abysmal failure.

All we ended up with were a thousand ‘spammy’ reviews and tweets with affiliate links. Any hint of objectiveness or impartiality was lost in a hearbeat. And ultimately the people that were genuinely passionate about WORK[etc], our true brand advocates , got lost in all the affiliate noise. We gave it six months to run, but in the end we pulled the plug.

Taking what we learnt from that I started to research this emerging field of advocate or influencer marketing.

The key difference between this approach and say an affiliate program is the focus is all about sharing real sentiment, from real champions of a product.

Advocate marketing means taking all that energy and exuberance around your brand and gently pointing it in the right direction. It means tipping your hat in acknowledgement to your true supporters, giving them public recognition throughout your community.

Affiliate

Advocate

“Show me the MONEY!”

“WORK[etc] has really helped my business grow. I’ll get a kick out of showing my client how it might work well for them”

“WORK[etc] is the world’s number 1 CRM, guaranteed to save you time, money, help you lose weight and make you irresistible to the opposite sex”

“We found that the social CRM tool in WORK[etc] was great for quickly catching up on our customer’s news, but needed some deeper insight into our business reporting”

What we are launching today is an integration to an advocate management platform developed by Influitive, a market leader in this space, lead by serial entrepreneur and Eloqua founder, Mark Organ.

What Influitive does is help direct our much-loved and most vocal customers through suggesting simple challenges. Once a challenge has been successfully completed, points are awarded. Points can then be exchanged for rewards.

So what do these challenges look like?

Our challenges are all about sharing knowledge and insight about WORK[etc]. They might be as simple as responding to a tweet for a CRM recommendation, or more demanding activities such as putting your hand up for a case study.

And the rewards?

Rewards are only ever about recognition and never about financial incentive. Brand advocacy loses all credibility once you start throwing around cash, it just becomes another affiliate program.

Rather, our rewards are all about helping you get more out of WORK[etc]. Whilst we do have some fun time rewards like car washes at your office or a Friday lunch on us, our rewards are mostly designed around opportunities such as dedicated trainings, free upgrades, exclusive VIP beta invitations and perhaps most valuable, access to a new WORK[etc] Insiders Forum with an Ask Me Anything (AMA) thread with our CEO (ie myself) and dedicated feature suggestion forum.

Interested in becoming a WORK[etc] Insider? Or even how advocate marketing might work for your business? Sign up here

  • I’ve never thought of affiliates vs. advocates from that perspective, but I have to say after joining affiliation programs it was too easy to go down the path you describe.

    From what I can read of your experience, there are some good examples of both challenges and rewards to engage the WORK[etc] advocates. Glad you’ve found the advocate program that truly matches your network of Insiders. 🙂

  • Jeffrey Linton

    Daniel like Marius stated you make a clear distinction here and for many I’m not sure they look at it this way. Nice job sharing the differences (advocate vs. affiliate) and how an advocate can truly help your business grow. Advocates not only help with adding revenue but they also give you the “real” feedback on your service and your product, making your company even better . I hope others will soon follow!

    • Thanks Jeffrey – our thoughts exactly. We want to be hearing product ideas and feedback from Advocates (WORK[etc] Insiders) because we know these people are heavily vested in working with us to make the product better. Versus an affiliate who really just wants us to provide flashier banners and a bigger commission!

  • Great post that nicely articulates the value of advocate marketing.

  • LizAtBomgar

    Nice blog post, Daniel. Good luck with the launch. We are just now launching an advocate program ourselves and already seeing the power of giving the customers who already love our brand the opportunity to share the benefits they have found using our solution with others.

    • Thanks Liz and good luck with your program. If its not too late, you could switch to the Influitive platform – if there is enough interest we might actually release the integration with WORK[etc].

      • LizAtBomgar

        We actually are using Influitive, Daniel. 😉 Going well so far.

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