Well, let’s just pause for a moment. We’ve all been witness to the rise and rise of the word ‘advocacy’. Today’s buzzword for recommendation – powered by the social media revolution.

Advocacy is critical in today’s digitally powered, earned media driven world. In my opinion, any business or brand that puts the customer at the heart of their strategy is getting it right. Advocacy, recommendation, brand perception or Net Promoter Scores are seen as core strategic measurement and KPIs by the fastest growing businesses and most powerful brands. They are harnessing the power of goodwill to positively impact the performance of their business.

There’s also been great buzz around McKinsey’s 2009 concept of the Loyalty Loop, as a new view of the world, moving away from the traditional ‘Purchase Funnel’. The thinking behind the Loyalty Loop is beautiful – focusing, delighting and retaining customers – not just finding new ones. It’s powerful, insightful and critical thinking in all of our consultancy.

The trouble is, turning these concepts into board level objectives – and things that can be measured as core KPIs that are robust and, importantly, get buy-in from non-marketers.

That is, until recently. A superb talk from Rishad Tobacccowala (Head of Strategy for VivaKi) at a recent AMIN worldwide conference (our international agency network – aminworldwide.com) inspired me. Not only to equip my own clients with a new vision. But to adopt it within our own business.

He said the most sophisticated objective for driving growth and galvanizing all the essential business divisions to deliver it, was: ‘To be the most recommended brand in your category’. I can’t lay claim to the words. I wish I could. Their simplicity is genius.

Locked up within that objective is a wealth of unwritten content. Not least, to be recommended you have to be great at what you do. The customer journey, communications, pricing, service, environments, product experience have to be top-class.

Surely, to be the most recommended you have to be the best. And being the ‘best’ has long since been a board level objective. But being the best is a million miles off for most brands – too lofty a target for most to achieve. But at the same time as being a ‘largest’ and a ‘best’ – there could also be a ‘most recommended’, which, in the hands of the smart brand is the short-track to becoming one, or both, of the others.

Being the most recommended is compelling for a team too – it’s participative and something that everyone from product design to sales and customer service to logistics can, actually MUST, get behind. It’s a bar for the whole organisation and surely a strategy that would move any brand or business to the upper echelons of their category over time.

It also, quite clearly, puts the customer at the heart of an organisation’s strategy. And in the connected world in which we live, nothing but nothing can be more important. The relationships you have with your customers have never been more important.

Your customers have, and always will be, your most powerful sales people. And in today’s world, we are surrounded with techniques, technologies and opportunities to drive their selling activity. Call it advocacy. Or recommendation. Or just simply common sense. The customer is still king.

I can’t think of a more contemporary, buzzword-free and media-neutral way of saying it. ‘Being the most recommended brand in your category’, should be in everyone’s marketing and business plan. Powerful stuff.

Gellan Watt, Managing Director and Chief Creative Officer.

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