Organizations still have a long way to go to to fully integrate the social web to connect to their customers. Here are some great examples, curated by Hult International Business School and Center for Innovation, Excellence and Leadership (IXL Center). Their book Connectivate! is a collection of real world stories from 54 innovative companies whose breakthroughs are changing the world.
By leveraging today’s confluence of technological and analytical breakthroughs, these companies connect people, businesses, governments and entities in novel and meaningful ways, capturing win-win propositions on the value chain. These companies have created a new economic context, increasingly accessible in a space-time singularity called Always Available.
Real world stories about innovators and innovative companies are an important way to learn, and we place high value on them at Innovation Excellence. The next case study in our Connectivate! series is:
BzzAgent – Real World Social Marketing Network
Use word-of-mouth to reach consumers
WHO NEEDS IT?
Consumers who love to try new products and share their opinions.
Companies looking for a non-traditional way to boost sales, activate existing customers into brand advocates to test out offerings, and build credibility. Instead of broad marketing campaigns with vague metrics, companies need detailed forecasts of potential sales impact.
WHAT IS THE CONNECTIVATION?
Empowers companies to leverage brand advocates (their own customers) to drive product sales across a range of online and offline mediums; spurs conversation between companies, early adopters, brand advocates, and the people that trust them.
Combines elements of social marketing, focus groups, and brand advocates into a hyper-segmented population that is highly motivated to share brand experiences with others.
WHAT WAS THERE BEFORE?
Traditionally, mass-marketing techniques and formal focus groups were the most common ways to influence purchase behavior.
BzzAgent tapped into social marketing before the rise of digital social networks.
BzzAgent has an addressable network of over 400 million shoppers around the world. Since launching in 2001, BzzAgent has activated consumer volunteers (agents) across a multitude of focused segments to support over 2,500 social marketing campaigns. The company raised almost $14 million in venture financing before being acquired in 2011 by dunnhumby, the retail marketing firm owned by TESCO, a UK-based global retailer.
Real consumers want to share opinions and create value — engage them and their advocacy will drive sales!
· Access to Information: Mass marketing techniques are losing their effectiveness as competing messages drown each other out.
· Changing Lifestyles: Social networking enables people to get together, engage and share opinions in ways never before imagined, effectively supercharging BzzAgent’s core business with a host of new word-of-mouth tools.
BASIC HUMAN NEEDS
· Convenience: BzzAgents get access to new products and services often well before the general public.
· Connection: Before Facebook’s Wall was a household word, BzzAgent tapped into the desire of individuals to try new things and share their experiences with their friends.
WHY THEY ARE WINNING
BzzAgent monetized a set of existing behaviors — sharing new product experiences — to create a two-way marketing channel that drives sales, “connecting the dots” between social media and shoppers for the first time.
· Recognition: Unlike other marketing organizations, consumers get no remuneration — besides access to new products or services for free.
· Curation: BzzAgent utilizes loyalty and point-of-sale data from nearly 400 million consumers to identify the right people for marketing programs, and charges a premium to access its network.
- Volunteers are enrolled, profiled, invited to campaigns, and educated about how to best spread the word.
- Provides 250 data points on 800,000 volunteers; point of sales data on 400 million consumers.
- Word-of-mouth campaigns are manageable and measureable through easy-to-use tools.
- Measures sales volume and ROI from actual in-store sales, marketing mix modeling, and matched market tests.
BzzAgent matches campaigns to volunteer consumers — providing the full brand experience, including the offering and relevant education. Opinions are shared in person and digitally (blogs, Facebook, etc.).
Companies that want to find better ways to reach their target markets and measure their marketing effectiveness, beyond traditional channels and vague metrics.
· BzzAgents are the core asset and yet they are volunteers! They accept “payment” in the form of new products or services – in return they just have to honestly share their opinions!
· Media analytics firms — Nielsen and Symphony IRI.
image credit: bzzagent.com
Dr. Hitendra Patel, Ronald Jonash, Steve Wyatt and Victor Fernandes are co-authors of Connectivate! Companies Innovating in New Ways to be Always Available; and members of leadership and the team at IXL CENTER, the Center for Innovation, Excellence & Leadership at Hult International Business School.