Marketing Trend: Evangelism Marketing
People often frown when I state my company’s name – Mission Centenarian (MC). Not many people have heard of it, and it’s likely neither have you. I don’t market large scale (there aren’t enough people in Pakistan who take their health seriously), in fact I have no marketing expense AT ALL. The company is marketed by customers who are so satisfied and taken by the programs that they can’t help but spread good words about it with friends, family & co-workers. I have my own personal (unpaid) PR team delivering positive messages in the most powerful manner possible – word of mouth, from a trusted source. The company has been around for nearly 3 years now, so I assure you, start taking Evangelism Marketing seriously.
With the boom of social media & most of my clients being SEC A avid users of facebook, friendster, MySpace, twitter etc – it’s even easier now than ever, to make your product or brand something it’s users will help spread. When UPL lost a contestant on a reality show, the world knew within hours and a firestorm started (without mainstream media).
A post recession business needs to find cost effective methods of marketing without extensive expenditure. Online evangelism, which costs next to nothing, is one way to advertise your products.
Personally, you could call me a Brand Evangelist for Engro because of all the good they do (Read the Engro CSR Report 2007), they’re a Pakistani Company (this is as patriotic as I get) and they’re products are great. I promote Engro Food’s “Omore”, Hilal Food’s “Fresher” & several other home bred brands as part of the MC meal plan.
For an ambitious company, it’s critical to read blog posts, forums & tweets that relate to your brand, so you can find the people who voice the positive and negative aspects of the company and brands they offer. Using the data you can work towards mending your errors and getting to the heart of the complaint.
Like countless others, it’s likely your company has a Facebook page, so you can identify your brand evangelists. You can also subscribe to service-specific alerts or use a conversation search engine to see comments across social media.
The next step costs little or nothing – contact the brand lovers and haters. Haters can give you unedited feedbacks without a filter which will help you determine why that market is pushing away. This is two-fold; you get constructive feedback and you gain their trust because unlike your competitors, it appears you want to provide value for money.
As for the evangelists, you need to find out what aspects of the product or service they really like after which you should sign them up to be entitled to perks such as upcoming product info, sampling gigs & gift certificates – provided they up the ante on public praises. Of course you must be thinking, “why reward them, they’d do it anyway”, but I think you should as this keeps them around in the long run. Remember to have them agree on a non disclosure agreement if you plan on giving them access to upcoming products & their subsequent lines for obvious reasons.
To avoid any hiccups in the long run, make sure there’s transparency about the evangelists renewed relationship with the company – incase there’s a leak, it could look very bad if customers found out you “paid people to deceive” (which would be the mainstream media spin unless you’re a huge company is Pakistan). The practice is no doubt deceptive & questionable by many consumer groups (BoltaConsumer.com) but by having supporters today, they will indefinitely serve as backup when you’re under fire.
At some point, you may have to consider getting a form of surveillance on your evangelist – just to make sure they represent the brand consistent with the way you do. You might have to go so far as provide a form of training about brand practices/culture in order to save your evangelists the humiliation of coming across as dense folk promoting you without pay.
To keep your costs low, send in an entry level employee, MT or intern (a popular practice of SME’s) as the point of contact who can directly correspond with the evangelists, keep an eye on blog posts and other social media they use. This way you have outsourced what would have been the promotion & brand maintenance aspect of the marketing teams’ job, clearing their work load to concentrate on innovative projects and campaigns.
Evangelism Marketing is a great way to promote your brand, product or service as it empowers your customers & encourages others to follow suit with positive discourse positively. It doesn’t cost much and the rewards last a lifetime. Cost<Benefit = Enough Said!
Babar Javed is Owner & Managing Director of Mission Centenarian, a health & fitness company founded in 2007, which comprises of a network of personal trainers in Karachi. He was most recently the chief marketing officer at Élan Guides & has worked with GlaxoSmithKline & UBL Fund Managers as well. Currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Marketing from SZABIST, his key interests lie in social media, brand activation & advertising.