Two Flats, One Spare And Brand Advocates

Recently, my husband and I were on a rockhounding field trip on a dirt road in the wilds of Idaho. We hit a bad spot in the road and bam! bam! just like that, we had two flat tires.

2-flatsNot to be foiled, we had brought along an electric tire pump for just such occasion. But, when we tried to repair the tires they would not inflate. None of the other tricks we had up our sleeve worked either and it was getting late. Ultimately, we had to be pulled onto a flatbed truck and driven 50 miles into Boise, where we arrived at midnight. Cost: $385.

The silver-lining to this story is that we have towing coverage with USAA. Within one day, the refund for the towing service was in our bank account. I’m a big fan of USAA and a brand advocate; I tell everyone about them.usaa2-150x150

And as I learned at a recent presentation by Rob Fuggetta, CEO of Zuberance, USAA has a lot of brand advocates. USAA’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), a metric for loyalty and brand advocacy, is #1 among brands in the US.

brand-advocate-book-150x150According to Fuggetta, the author of Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force, it’s not just the brand promise’s but the customer’s experience of the brand that builds advocates. Service is what makes the difference. Brand advocates are the people that, when asked “how likely are you to recommend our services?” score your product or service at a 9 or 10, out of a possible 0 – 10.

Word of mouth (WOM) recommendations happen all the time. They are now tweeted, mobile and web-enabled, but they are not new. Fuggetta made this important connection for the audience: WOM advocates have clout – they influence purchasing decisions and because of that, it is important to cultivate as well as mobilize your advocates. He also made the point that right now, the brands with the most recommends and advocates are the winners in the marketplace.

brand-advocates-2-300x225How can you mobilize your brand advocates? Here are the top techniques:

Request reviews and incentivize people to participate in your brand. Did you know that almost every category has review sites for product or service reviews? Interesting!

Give advocates an opportunity to tell their story about your brand. I just did this for USAA in the introduction to this blog post. My husband often does the same for Les Schwab Tires, a regional tire store in the Pacific Northwest that is also top in their category for WOM. That’s where we were towed to that memorable night in Idaho.

And, finally, you have to keep the energy going. Brand advocacy is not a one-time promotion. You have to work it, train on it, and build on it. Gather testimonials, collect stories, and curate the messages. Brands rarely build themselves.

Oh, and please “like”and tweet this post. Thanks!

 

Techno Sapiens, anyone?

Outsell, Inc., one of the best sources for awesome insights and keen analysis for the information industry, just came out with their Information Industry Outlook for 2014. The theme for 2014 is Convergence Now! You can’t read it without getting jazzed, buzzed, motivated, and otherwise encouraged. Here is part of the sentiment that will pull you in and keep you reading:

We see devices, humans, technologies, value chains, content, and workflows blending and becoming one human-machine ecosystem. Techno sapiens, anyone? There’s no need for more discussion about the print-to-digital shift or about device adoption. It’s all one now, as information and technology have come together as a result of the big bang of Break and Reset and industry players grokking what growth in the New Normal requires.

knowledge workers

Outsell’s discussion of the information industry is very broad as it encompasses IT, news, advertising, healthcare, social media and other sectors. Some of the more interesting takeaways from the report include these:

  • It’s time to stop focusing on separate services within marketing for “mobile,” “social,” and “digital” and rebel against ad agencies that set themselves up as a “Social Agency” or “Mobile Agency.” We’ve shown again and again that advertisers rate cross-media approaches (combining digital, print, and in-person events) as much more effective than any single media — certainly more effective than just digital or pure-play digital.
  • It’s becoming increasingly difficult to determine where humans end and where technology begins. Humans want access to everything — social networks, news, games, video, TV, platforms, and applications — and they want it all the time. Because of this, we embody our devices and connectivity to a point that it becomes a part of us; techno sapiens — smart technology getting smarter — live at this intersection of humans and technology.
  • This is the time to become a platform. Revenue growth is coming from integrating workflow tools and other value-added services, leveraging and repackaging new combinations of content and analytic assets, and exploring new business models. IHS, Thomson Reuters, Dwell Magazine, and Healthline all exemplify this trend and show that platform can be about coopetition and collaboration, as allowing others to develop solutions for customers on your platform can become a source of competitive advantage.
  • The trend away from mass broadcast to 1-to-1 direct marketing will accelerate. Pull, not push, marketing will flip the advertising model upside down. Trusted environments and platforms for programmatic “intent-casting” will allow customers to advertise themselves as interested and willing to buy, not the other way around as it is today.

The global library market place is $24.2 billion! While it may be too soon for substantial hiring increases, these numbers reflect an optimism in the sector that was missing in the past two years.

global info sourcing copy

Predictions, trends and patterns

Happy, healthy and prosperous New Year’s greetings to you! Now that you’ve shed all the relatives and got the house restored to its pre-holiday grandeur, it’s a good time to check the pulse of our industry going forward. Yep, it’s time to get back to the office and to focus on your goals for 2014. To help you obtain the information and insight you need to achieve your goals, I wanted to share insights about trends you can look forward to in 2014.

I’m fascinated with predictions, trends and pattern of future developments, and at this time of year there is no better place to get Future Ready than the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The CES is the world’s bigger tradeshow for electronics. You could call it the living, beating heart of Geekdom. If it’s techie, leading-edge, and nerdy, it’s there. Many brands stage elaborate displays and use the show as a launch pad for announcing new products and partnerships.

You really owe yourself at least one pilgrimage to CES during your career. Some of the new technologies are pretty amazing and some are, well, let’s just say they are provocative.

It looks like the reporters are seeing similar patterns, as these stories are on everyone’s radar:

Trends

  • Wearable technology—such as LG’s LifeBand Touch which tracks your fitness activities and even monitors your pulse and oxygen consumption. Also read: Wearables at CES: the useful, the useless & the downright bizarre. CNN predicts a gadget for every limb and a connected house as two of their Five Trends to Watch at CES.
  • The Connected Home—such as using your smart phone to unlock doors is garnering attention. TechCrunch discusses sensors that help you track the comfort levels in your home the way Fitbit and Jawbone track your health.
  • Supersized smart TV’s IEEE Spectrum pegs 2014 as the year of the smart TV because of Ultra High Definition, flexible curving screens (don’t they have to curve when they are over 70”?) and new integrated apps in CES 2014 Trends: TV’s Future is Curvy, Smart, and 4K.
  • Smart cars that not only parallel park themselves automatically, but also drive autonomously. Digital Trends has a great gallery featuring smart cars and wearables.

How will all this play out at the checkout counter? When I was at CES three years ago, the big pitch was for 3D TV’s, but consumers did not buy them, by and large. This year, the hot TV technologies are curved screens and 4K. But will they be on our homes next year? It’s hard to predict which new technologies will gain traction with the consumer for many reasons.

However, each of trends listed above is part of the bigger mega-trend, the Internet of Things, which is showing up in a broad cross-section of industries, from architecture to energy to medicine, and more. The underlying infrastructure which is based on cloud computing and mobile technology has been building in capacity for many years and can support the shift to an even more connected world, so we anticipate the product showcased at CES this year will gain traction.

Are you ready for this uber-connected world?  I can help you take advantage of this new frontier by providing you with the following services:

·         Deep dive technical research on new technologies

·         Market research

·         Competitor research