Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Brands: Advocacy

Marketing magazine recently featured an article on advocacy of brands. "The only question you need to ask, it reads: would you recommend our product or service to a friend or colleague?"

The question is used as a key indicator by a range of companies like Allianz, T-Mobile, General Electric and American Express. They have adopted it as a key part of their customer-loyalty programmes. Allianz and General Electric are even linking the system to excutives' pay.

The concept is this: find out how likely a brand is to be recommended, and it will provide a good indicator of how well it will grow. It is a recognition of the power of word of mouth in an age where blogs and easily accessible online customer reviews have arguably made recommendations more important than ever.

The idea was first suggested by Frederick Reichheld, director emeritus at management consultancy Bain & Company in the US, in a Harvard Business Review article three years ago.

However, there are some critical remarks on the system: the indicator can identify that a brand has got an issue (or not), but it sais nothing about cause and remedy. Therefore other research is required. And translating the promotor score into strategy will prove the most difficult exercise.

There is also the temptation to rush into heavy ad campaigns and marketing programmes, when confronted with a low promotor score. But since the promotor indicator measures performance against expectations, it is crucial to not raise expectations prematurely and too high.

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