BCG Introduces the Brand Advocacy Index (BAI).
With the emergence of new forms of communication, word of mouth found a new territory. Digitalization and instantaneity of communications have spawned a new interest on advocacy as an efficient mean to drive business growth. Newly born Brand Media (where brands become content creators and publishers on the social media and internet sphere) fuels on word of mouth, shares, likes, tweets and re-tweets and the like. And because in the era of socionomics people believe more in advocacy from friends or influencers than in corporate media, it has become critical for companies to muster not only their digital communication, but also how it spreads through the digital world. Because good word of mouth is good, but bad word of mouth is way worse in terms of image and therefore.... sales.
BCG put their effort into trying to determine if there was a correlation between the advocacy level of a company and its overall performance. And it so happens that the better the advocacy, the better the performance. And this has been verified across the board, in all industries. Better advocacy leads to greater inbound sales, because it “provides a sense of the quality of a company’s operations and offerings. It also helps companies cut through the clutter in a world saturated with media messages.” In other words, it helps companies differentiate. And as we know, differentiation is key when it comes to attracting customers. But what are the differentiation factors that cope well with advocacy? And can they be bettered?
BCG’ study reveals that there are three main drivers of advocacy, three reasons for which consumers would recommend or criticize a brand.
- Value for money
- Customer service
- Performance & Design
And even if these have been traditional differentiating factors, such as customer service for banks, the other factors should not be neglected. because some actors have been pushing with success on other factors in their industry. Online banks disrupting the traditional customer service positioning by offering better.... value for money for example.
Some companies have managed incredible performance only by using word of mouth to launch new offers, like Mercadona in Spain, who managed to launch it beauty section with great success by inviting women to come and participate in sessions where they would get the products presented, would test them and get some samples for free, thus creating an incredible buzz around their opening.
Another interesting point raised by the report is the influence of non-consumers word of mouth. Whereas traditional marketing would focus on existing customers, the index also measures the advocacy level of non consumers that can be of serious influence in some industries, such as car manufacturing. Aspirational feelings created by traditional marketing can create non-consumers advocacy, and because negative press matters more than positive, avoidance of bad word of mouth becomes essential in order not to tarnish one’s reputation.
So considering these factors, organisations can start to strengthen their advocacy level, designing their media and marketing contents to address those specific factors, in other words, adding advocacy to their marketing mix.
Have your digital marketers integrated that new reality? Have they designed their contents to be spreadable, and to favour those differentiating factors? Do you have an appropriate response in case bad word of mouth comes to degrade your reputation on those issues? Would you be recommended?