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Employee Advocacy: Marketing Engine of the Future?

You need to purchase new software on behalf of your company – how do you decide which product/company to choose? You probably go and check out some vendor websites and ask the opinion of people you know and trust, but would you ask a vendor’s employees what they think about their company?

Fact is that employees’ social posts generate 8X more engagement than posts from their employer. Wow! This has the potential to radically alter the marketing landscape by changing the way we discover and buy goods and services.

What is employee advocacy?

As traditional marketing practises like advertising lose effect in this noisy, ‘always-on’ world, new methods – like employee advocacy – are stepping in to take to take their place (for more on this topic see my blog, “Inbound Marketing: What Comes After the Tipping Point?”).

 Employee advocacy is empowering a company’s employees to support the goals of the brand using company content cascaded via employee-owned social channels. Said another way: it’s word-of-mouth marketing for the digital age. Through employee advocacy we can increase share of voice by encouraging employees across the company to be more active on social media.

Why is it good for marketing?

Giving employees a voice on social media accomplishes two key goals for marketers:

1. Brand awareness/reach

According to Dynamic Signal, with employee advocacy, “You can increase brand awareness by 14x. Your employees are already on social all the time. The average social employee has 10x more followers than your corporate network and 90% of their social audience is new to the brand.”

This is significant because increased brand awareness drives customer loyalty, which drives revenue.

In fact, having 135 employee advocates is more powerful than having 1,000,000 Facebook fans. Why? As the graphic below demonstrates, employees’ social networks amplify reach in a big way.

EE Graphic

2. Trust

Now more than ever, people want to buy from people, not faceless companies. In fact, according to WeRSM, only 15% of people trust recommendations from brands, while a whopping 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know.

This stat is backed by compelling research from the 2014 Edleman’s Trust Barometer. As the chart below indicates, not only do customers trust their peers and regular company employees, their trust in these sources is on a dramatic rise.

Edelman Trust Barometer

Why is it good for business?

Employee advocacy programs have the power to deliver results beyond marketing value and can have a huge impact on the business.

Social selling: According to a recent Social Media and Sales Quota Survey, more than 40% of salespeople say they have closed between two and five deals as a result of social media.

Customer insight: In the Globe and Mail, Peter Aceto, the CEO of Tangerine Bank, says, “I would rather engage in a Twitter conversation with a single customer than see our company attempt to attract the attention of millions in a coveted Superbowl commercial.”

His sentiments are echoed in a Harvard Business article,  “The 7 attributes of CEOs who get social media,” which explains that savvy CEOs “don’t want to hear input from customers filtered through 13 layers of management. They want their input raw and without any manipulation.”

Attracting  talent: Enabling your employees to post about job openings and talk about why they like their job is an incredible competitive advantage. A Fast Company article, “How to Make Your ‘Employer Brand’ Shine and Attract The Best Tech Talent,” mentions this success story from Apple: “Apple, coming in at number three on the employer brand index, features photos and quotes from current employees on its job website. In other words, the company has effectively turned its employees into brand advocates.”

Marketing Engine of the Future?

Employee advocacy is a new source of trust for today’s consumer. It has the power to fuel brand awareness, increase customer loyalty, and drive new revenue. So is it a Marketing Engine of the future? As “word of mouth” marketing for the digital age, I think the answer is YES!  Do you agree?


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Seven Important Takeaways from the 2011 MarketingSherpa B2B Summit

Last week, I attended  the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit in Boston. The line-up of speakers was fabulous including Jay Baer, Kristin Zhivago and numerous experts from MECLABS; all of them providing fascinating information on how to optimize the B2B lead generation funnel.  Here are a few things that resonated with me:

The biggest challenges for B2B marketers are 1) generating high-quality sales leads, 2) providing a sufficient volume of leads to sales, and 3) accommodating lengthening sales cycles. No real surprise there. I’m sure all of us experience these challenges.

What is surprising is that B2B marketers don’t appear to be adapting new marketing practices that can help to address these challenges. According to research from MarketingSherpa, 61% of marketers send all leads directly to sales but only 27% of these leads are actually qualified.  68% of marketers have not identified a sales funnel, 79% are not scoring their leads and 65% have no nurturing campaigns in place.  Clearly, there is an opportunity for us to address  the premature handoff of leads to sales,  identify and articulate a lead funnel  that we can support with marketing , and begin to develop lead scoring and nurturing processes. 

The value proposition is the essence of marketing.  Your value proposition should address two key questions: What does your company do? and Why should a buyer that meets your ideal customer profile buy from you and not one of your competitors?  It’s important to include at least one key differentiator in your value proposition that identifies what makes your solution or service unique and better than your competition.

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Cisco London 2012 Sponsorship – More Than Choirboy Hair

There was a period in our house when Roger Black could do no wrong.  The young, tall, handsome runner with the choirboy hairstyle from Portsmouth had won medals at both the 1992 and 1996 Olympics and in my wife and her friend’s eyes had an effect akin to that which Achilles must have had on all the Greek women while they waited to hear of his success at Troy. So it was with some curiosity that I met Roger for the first time in his capacity as one of our London 2012 Olympic Ambassadors. Would he still have the athlete’s demeanour, a taught spring ready to tear out of the starting blocks or pounce on an  unsuspecting Trojan? Would the choirboy hair deny his 45 years?

I joined the Cisco UK & Ireland team fairly late into our London 2012 journey in August 2011 following four years in Cisco’s Services business in California and Europe.  I had been lucky enough in my earlier career while working for a consumer brand to sponsor the British Bobsleigh team across a period of two winter Olympics, culminating in a medal at Nagano. I knew the excitement that comes from involvement in world-class sport and while I had not been involved in the early decisions around Cisco’s sponsorship, I was very much looking forward to being involved in probably the only Olympics and Paralympics that will take place during my lifetime in Britain.

For Cisco, London 2012 is all about leveraging network technology to create a better Britain, a brilliant future as we see it. London 2012 is the starting gun for us, not the finishing tape as so many other sponsors see it. The legacy is what it’s all about, not just 5 weeks of incredible sporting challenge. So when we look at our 2012 marketing strategy, we always keep the end goal in mind. It is a tall order; we want to focus on the future beyond 2012 and at the same time benefit from the excitement and opportunity before and during the Games.

So how have we approached our marketing strategy for London 2012?

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