Best Practices in HR
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Bill Lee
  June 28, 2018

BMC Tip Sheet: Bringing confidence and clarity to a high-pressure rebranding

The days when customer advocates primarily took reference calls from buyers and interview requests from the media are long gone. In what we call “advanced practices” (AP) firms[1], they’re using customer advocates at all stages of the customer journey—pre-sale and post-sale. Here’s an example showing how BMC used its customer advocates to bring confidence and clarity to a high-pressure rebranding initiative.

Branding and Awareness

Nick Utton, BMC’s new chief marketing officer, was hired to transform the firm’s somewhat stodgy, product-centric image into a privately held, customer-centric brand that drives innovation. Utton, who launched MasterCard’s now-iconic “Priceless” campaign as well as E*Trade’s memorable “talking baby” campaign, was a creative choice to lead the effort—consistent with the new image BMC wanted to develop.

At first, Utton wasn’t aware of the firm’s customer advocates or that interested, given his consumer marketing background. To him, the customer advocacy program was invisible. But the firm’s customer advocacy manager, Kim Ellis, quickly showed him their value.

For example, whenever Utton and his team raised a specific question about the firm’s current image in the marketplace, Ellis would immediately poll her customer advocates and send the results to him. There was no waiting to form focus groups or to commission an expensive study. Ellis could show him, “Here’s what our leading customers think.” He loved it.

At one point, Utton concluded that BMC needed a new advertising campaign. “What will work for our existing customer base?” he asked his team. Ellis contacted her advocates with the proposed campaigns, asking them, “Which one do you like best and why? What does the ad mean to you?” Response rates were excellent—people in general like to provide feedback and opinions, and advocates who feel vested in a firm, particularly so. Again, Utton loved the input and Ellis helped save significant sums of money that he’d planned to spend on an  agency to do the research.

When Utton and his team worked on renaming a product, they narrowed the sundry choices down to two after much deliberation. Finding it very hard to pick one, Ellis worked her magic with her advocates to get their votes. Using gamification “challenges” from Influitive’s customer advocacy platform, she got an incredible 50% response rate—within 24 hours. The advocates came down decisively, by 80% to 20%, in favor of one of the options. Utton loved it and went with their choice.

By this time, the CMO wanted Ellis’s advocacy program participating in every important branding decision going forward. The customer advocacy program had gone from being invisible to the new CMO to being indispensable.

[1] To describe firms that excelled in our research report, Advanced Practices in Customer Advocacy and Engagement, Center for Customer Engagement, 2017-2018.