Why peer recommendations are absolutely critical for marketing success today


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I am very intrigued and interested in the topic of the what influences someone to make the decision to buy your product or service. As all marketers and brand owners be!

It an important and increasingly pressing challenge for marketers and agencies, as it is clear that traditional paid for advertising is slowly becoming less effective. So what next?

Consumer scepticism is growing about advertising, and trust in them is eroding. At the same time, mass paid for advertising no longer reaches as many people as cost effectively as it did previously. This is due to both the fragmentation of media (due to greater choice of channels), and also due to the growth of online and social media.

Even when people are watching TV, they are no longer just passively sitting back absorbing your message. They are multi tasking which may include surfing online, or interacting with friends on social media.

The big “buzz” today therefore is about the role and importance that “influencers” and “advocates” should – and can play – in getting consumers to consider, try and buy products and services.
There are services setting up to try and measure who these people are, and how influential they are. Companies like Klout, Kred and PeerIndex are trying to become the “gold standard” of measurement.

Brand Advocates are likely to be more important to your brand than “Influencers”.
I have written previously about “What is online influence, and why is everyone desperate to measure it?” and “Influencers versus advocates. Which is more important for your brand?“.

In this I argued that it was more important to focus on “Brand Advocates”. They will have more passion, love and desire for your brand to succeed. Better than chasing so called “influencers” who may have large networks, so may get your message out to many, but have less real passion and interest in your brand and it succeeding.

The big issue though is that too much focus and effort is being put to “online influencers & advocates” forgetting about the real world.
The real world is still more important and more influential than the “online world”. Despite all the hype. It is really important for marketers and their agencies to get the balance right, and ensure they focus on “real world” influence factors and dynamics.

I came across an Infographic entitled “How are we influenced” from a company called CrowdTap and their free White Paper: The Power of Peer Influence, which had some important data and also made some key points that reiterate this:

Consumers trust recommendations from their Peers over ALL other forms of advertising and recommendations.
A staggering 92% of people say that they rely on recommendations from people they know. The 2nd biggest influence was consumer opinions posted online (70% of people said this influenced them)

Consumers are relying less and less on paid for adverts to make their final decisions.
Of course ads are important still, especially for creating AWARENESS. But the final decision making seems to be increasingly driven by actual recommendations. This may be driven by the tighter economic environment, where people have to be even more cautious than ever than ever with their disposable income. They cannot afford to take risk.

Only 47% of people say a TV influences them to make a purchase, versus 92% saying recommendations from people they know does.
While people are probably under claiming the role that advertising plays when asked, the most important fact is that tracking over time is showing that trust in traditional paid for ads is declining. Traditional advertising is becoming less powerful and trusted less. Something the industry needs to address, as this seems to be driven by the perception that there is too much over claiming and promises. This is causing decline of trust to accelerate.

Influencers can generate awareness. But Advocates will drive trial and purchase
In the infographic there is a quote from Joe Tripodi (Chief Marketing Officer: Coca-Cola Company) in which he says “awareness is fine, but advocacy will take your business to the next level“. I agree with this 100%.

There are many tools to generate awareness. In fact, traditional paid for media like TV, magazine and outdoor posters still do a great job at creating awareness.
But awareness alone is unlikely to drive to a sale. Recommendations by people that consumers know personally and trust, like their friends and family or their doctor or health professional, will drive the final purchase decision.

You cannot rely on online alone to do this. You need to find the real world advocates for your brand.
What do you think?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gary Bembridge
30 years of marketing experience managing and building brands globally for companies like Unilever and Johnson & Johnson, as a Global Vice President Global Marketing. Now a freelance marketing consultant, blogger and podcaster. The podcast has won awards in the European Podcast Awards (Business) the last 2 years.


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