Hitching Your Boat to Customer Advocacy

I recently wrote about how McDonald’s and RIM had flamed out with their #hashtag campaigns on Twitter. Not pretty.

However, I admit that I am somewhat conflicted about this because I completely subscribe to the notion that customer advocacy will drive successful companies to sustainable competitive leadership. Gone are the days when a company could rely on IT investments for productivity enhancements and supply chain management for lower cost of goods; those things are still necessary but they are also commoditized, your competitors can make the same backoffice investments and the effect will be nullification of any advantage you previously enjoyed.

Institutions of all stripes are at a crossroads when it comes to how they take advantage of the goodwill that is extended to them by customers who are happy with them. The old way would be for the company to productize customer testimonial and package it up through traditional channels… the problem is that this is like going to a zoo that features puppets and animatronics instead of actual animals. Customer testimonials don’t work because they are not believable, customers have figured out the game and aren’t playing along.

Esurance is doing something that is really worth watching, they have built an advertising campaign that comes down to a simple message, “go to our Facebook fan page and see for yourself”. They let it all roll out in, apparently, an unmoderated format and the effect is that the negative comments actually amplify the positive comments.

I like this a lot, no pun intended.