Advocates: This Savvy CMO’s Secret Weapon For Brand Transformation

Many company rebrands put too much focus on the logo. (Just think about Gap’s major logo redesign fail, which is estimated to have cost the company $100 million.)

However, a rebrand is more than your visuals and advertising.

Today’s B2B buyers aren’t influenced by advertising. Instead, they want to know what their peers and colleagues think about you. Getting a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” from a peer can make or break a sale. According to McKinsey, word of mouth is the primary factor in 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. CustomerThink also found that advocates who sing your praises can help you grow 2.5X faster than your competitors.

Savvy CMOs realize this and are putting advocates at the center of their brands. One of these smart CMOs is Martyn Etherington, who has 25+ years of product, channel and corporate marketing experience in the technology sector. Most recently, he was the Chief Marketing Officer and Chief of Staff for Mitel.

Martyn’s vision for a brand powered by advocates

Martyn-Etherington_avatar-313x313“When I joined Mitel in 2012, it was a 40-year old company with very low brand awareness,” said Martyn. “The market perceived us as an old, telephone-oriented PBX company. However, we had shifted to a customer-centric software company positioned in the cloud and contact-center markets. Although the market and our strategy had changed over time, our brand perception had not.”

In early 2014, Mitel acquired four companies and embarked on a major rebrand. Martyn realized that advocates could play a huge part the new brand’s success — or failure. His team launched an advocate marketing program – the Mitel Champions – to turn passive employees, channel partners and customers into active advocates.

“Our brand is not a logo, a product or what we say about ourselves,” said Martyn. “Rather, it’s the promise we make to our customers and how we deliver on the promise through every interaction.” In other words, it’s what their customers say about the experience they’ve had with your company.

Mitel launched its new brand on October 1, 2014. Over 1,700 employees, partners and customers promoted the launch through tweets, shares and conversations.

“The advocacy program helped us successfully rebrand,” said Martyn. “Our advocates were on board from day one to promote the launch and transform our brand perception. In the three months after the launch, our stock price increased by 25%.”

3 ways to build a brand on advocacy, according to Martyn

1. Start your advocacy efforts from the inside out

Many B2B companies start their advocate marketing programs with customers. However, Martyn believes you can’t ask your customers to serve as brand advocates until your employees deliver on your brand promise first. Start your advocacy efforts from the inside out, eventually bringing channel partners and customers into the fold as well.

2. Train, equip and motivate employees to deliver on your brand promise

Martyn’s team trained employees and motivated them to serve as brand advocates so the entire company could move toward the new brand launch with one consistent voice. Martyn recommends using video training sessions to help boost employees’ skills and confidence. This should result in more employees actively promoting your brand within their networks.

3. Make advocacy fun and easy

Find a way to turn advocacy into something that people actually enjoy doing. It shouldn’t be a chore. Mitel used Influitive’s AdvocateHub to give advocates points when they complete challenges like sending in referrals or sharing content on social media. Points could be redeemed for rewards. Advocates were soon competing to win prizes and get to the top of the leaderboard.

“When I first heard the term ‘gamification’, I rolled my eyes,” said Martyn. “I was very skeptical until I experienced it through Influitive. By engaging our customers and employees through gamification, we quickly grew our advocacy program.”

Making advocacy fun and easy will help your advocates deliver your key brand messages to a wider audience

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3 Responses to Advocates: This Savvy CMO’s Secret Weapon For Brand Transformation

  1. […] on turning some of your employees into the rock stars so that they can then be the face of the brand, more so than just the logo,” […]

  2. […] While this makes for an unpredictable journey to the top of the marketing chain, it’s also one full of untapped opportunity for those who are willing to forge their own path—with the customer walking right beside them. […]

  3. […] some, the goal is brand awareness. For others, it’s about lead generation. Regardless, attendee engagement and networking time were […]

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