The Power of Advocacy

Let’s be up front, it’s no wonder that robust advocacy-marketing programs are achieving significant revenue gains, research showing some 10 to 20 percent for established products and up to 100 percent for new products. Consumer goods companies and retailers have taken the lead in this field, but business-to-business companies like Cisco are also beginning to make their move by establishing relationships with advocates as potential advisors and recommenders.

Ignore the discipline at your peril

The art of sharing success seems to still be ‘off radar’ for so many brands and organisations which leaves me confused when you consider that advocacy is the corporate gift that keeps on giving.  There are at least three ways that this often misunderstood or at worst ‘ignored’ discipline can drive reward, recognition and deliver further new business to the bottom line which of course ticks all of the ROI questions the finance team will throw at you.

Let’s take a look at just three of the positive effects of advocacy marketing. First, there’s the snowballing effect of recommendations. Whereas advertising can drive consumers down the so called “purchase pathway” which is initiated from the moment of category interest onto brand awareness, brand consideration, and of course all going well, brand purchase. So, word-of-mouth advocacy turns that one-way street into a roundabout, as customers who purchase the product encourage new customers to enter the virtuous circle. In other words, advocates beget advocates and therefore in theory over time, the cost to acquire new customers should in effect plummet because the peer to peer promotion is encouraging more opportunities.

We need cross platform experiences in these times of ‘always on’.

If we go beyond recommendations, advocacy marketing can establish a platform for dialogue with a company’s most committed customers, thereby generating immediate feedback on products and messaging. A good example comes from Cisco, who have developed a new customer advocacy program, called ‘The Gateway’. The initiative is centred around a digital advocate community, built in partnership with Influitive – the industry leaders in this field. The Gateway is Cisco EMEAR’s official home of customer advocacy, where like-minded people can connect and exchange insights on all things Cisco. @CiscoGateway acts as the home of customer success stories, insider knowledge and exclusive access for the select customers who are looking to build their personal and company brand. But the program is more than a digital experience. The very essence of this home of advocacy is about mobilising an army of customers on their own terms. Understanding what motivates different customers and building a robust and scalable program that allows them to self-select how they wish to advocate for Cisco. Some customer advocates seek out opportunities to speak at Cisco Live, while others are looking to connect with their peers in an authentic trusted environment, a bit like ‘Trip Advisor’ but for the b2b world.

Celebrating success doesn’t always need to be in the form of awards

We all know the power of peer to peer reviews and recommendations but this initiative extends the reward factor by making the Cisco ‘Gatewayer’ feel part of a community, a community that shares, educates and one that benefits through rewards that are awarded for those who interact and engage. Since its conception Cisco staff and Customers have fully embraced this as a powerful tool to inform and celebrate how collaboration between supplier and client can offer huge rewards in efficiency and productivity. Such an approach can provide so much insight, support, sales and marketing collateral and thus gift product development teams with a critical-feedback loop, as well as engaging and sharing advocates’ enthusiasm for meaningful business improvement, and let’s face it – when companies use that feedback to serve customers better, they strengthen the potential for advocacy marketing in the future.

Celebrated customer stories can have a positive effect on the bottom line.

Finally, thanks to the evolution of digital, companies can enlist advocates in two-way conversations with large groups of customers. Historically, companies have tried to jump-start conversations about their products with the one-way “push” of traditional advertising campaigns and anyone with enough experience will know this is akin to “throw it at the wall and see what sticks”. But today, they can actively manage conversations and engage directly with consumers and advocates through social networking, blogs, forums, and mobile applications. The Cisco Gateway strategy is enabling customer interaction at every conceivable touchpoint with Live, Content, Social and Film each playing a part in delivering stories of success and interaction with peers.

“The biggest untapped opportunity in marketing today is in mobilising customers as an extension of your brand. There is no better storyteller than the customer and companies need to embrace advocacy as a powerful force to cut through the noise and drive authentic, trusted relationships that will lead to the success of your customers and your own business”.

Cristina Melluzzi – Head of Customer Advocacy at Cisco EMEAR

To be clear, not all products lend themselves to advocacy marketing, however, for example it can’t rescue an inferior product or service, for instance. But a product or service is a prime candidate for advocacy if it stands out from the competition or is new, efficient, if it gives customers something positive to talk about, if its product line is regularly updated to offer a fresh subject for discussion, and if its target customers are likely to seek recommendations before purchasing and last but by no means least if it can deliver results to the bottom line then it has to be worth shouting about.

Long live advocacy.


Kemosabe Street Photography Class

On Friday afternoon Kemosabe did a Street Photography class with photographer Charlie Kwai from Hackney Arts. (See more about Charlie here)

As a Social Enterprise, Hackney Arts use a share of their profits from ticket sales and private bookings to fund free arts activity in the Hackney borough. They work with local charities and community centres to deliver their courses for free, to disadvantaged groups who wouldn’t usually have access to the arts.

They have just finished a series of classes at Choices, an addiction recovery group that is part of Spitalfields Crypt Trust, and they are planning their next series with Akwaaba, a refugee centre in Dalston.

Our lesson started in our home from home, The Wilmington, where Charlie showed us some his latest project called ‘True Love’ set in Soho’s China Town. He told us his best experiences (travelling around China for a month) and he told us his worst (being punched in the face by a stranger). We learnt the do’s and dont’s of street photography, which from a glance looked like we were possibly having a life-coaching lesson. Here are a few top tips:

1/ Introduce yourself and explain what you are trying to achieve. Sometimes you wont have a reason because you acted on impulse, but try find a reason for why you needed to take that shot.

2/ Smile; it’s harder for a stranger to be angry at a smiley face.

3/ Pretend you know what you’re doing even if you don’t. If you act confident no one will question you.

4/ If you get punched in the face, which hopefully wont happen too often, get right back on that bike and start taking more photos.

Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 16.41.00Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 16.40.45Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 16.40.32Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 16.40.20


Social to in-store: how word of mouth is going multi-channel

A modern online marketer lives by the mantra that if you can’t track it, you shouldn’t do it. Unfortunately, most of the techniques for tracking in-store sales generated from online marketing remain rudimentary at best. As summarised in a recent eConsultancy article, these include Google’s ‘best guesstimation’ of how many instore visits resulted from paid search ads, call tracking, click and collect and just ‘asking your customers how they heard of you’!

The tracking problem is more acute with Social when you consider that, according to Radium One, 74% of online sharing takes place outside of the main social networks – often by email, SMS or Whatsapp. That means that a traditional web analytics platform cannot track or attribute sharing on the so-called ‘Dark Social’, so it is often ignored when trying to understand what marketing efforts drove which sales. At Buyapowa, we realised that the answer was to allow customers to share across any social platform they want to using unique trackable sharing links to attribute referrals to the sharer.

What's App

So while that solves issues with tracking sharing, until now we have lacked one important element: how to report the physical sales made in-store back to the online sharing platform.

Tracking Social to In-store

Imagine a World where a leading restaurant chain can drive new customer acquisition by inviting its best and most loyal customers to share the chance to get a great deal on a meal with their friends and family. But instead of just driving newsletter sign ups or scatter-gunning vouchers that may never be used, it can now issue coupons or QR codes that can be tracked as they are redeemed and reported this back to the online referral platform. This means that rewards will only be given for referrals that actually lead to meals being bought and paid, and not for proxies like email opt-ins or voucher issuance. Well that is exactly what a leading UK restaurant chain is doing by combing two best of breed innovative technologies in Eagle Eye and Buyapowa.

By embedding Buyapowa’s invite- a-friend platform directly into its website, the restaurant chain will offer customers incentives to share with friends and family. Each referrer will have a unique customer reference that will be included in a unique one- time coupon or QR code provided by Eagle Eye. The restaurant will scan the QR code or coupon at the till which will be validated and redeemed through the Eagle Eye AIR platform via their POS.


In a World where we increasingly expect to measure and attribute every dollar of marketing spend to sales, ‘Social to In-store’ largely remains a blind spot for most marketers. And because marketers struggle to measure and evaluate the channel, they tend to neglect it. That represents a huge missed opportunity!

Because we spend so much time online, and 80%
of that time (outside of work) is spent being ‘social’, whether emailing or Whatsapping friends, reading and commenting articles, Facebooking, or Snapchatting etc., retailers should be harnessing social sharing to drive potential customers in-store. Particularly as we now all have the means and technology literally ‘in our hands 24 hours a day’ to spread Word of Mouth faster and wider than ever before.

Social Snap Chat

But until now marketers haven’t had the tools to drive and measure ‘Social to In-store’. That has held it back from fulfilling its potential. But it is all about to change!

We all live in a Multi-Channel World or do we?

While e-Commerce continues to grow exponentially every year, the Centre for Retail Research reported that it only represents about 8.4% of total retail spend across the main European markets, even though in the UK it reaches 15%. These figures illustrate the simple fact that in-store is still where the majority of the retail action happens!

For many businesses, like restaurants, bars, hotels, and gyms, the whole purpose of online is to drive potential customers to physical locations as this is the only way
a customer can consume the service being ordered. But even retailers like department stores have long known that getting a person in-store is often more valuable than a sale online, as it allows them to grab the customer’s attention, showcase other wares, up-sell, cross-sell and increase average order values.


So even though a recent study by IDC found that shoppers who buy in-store
and online have a 30% higher lifetime value, it seems that many of those smart people with the word ‘Multi- channel’ in their job title are mostly focused on trying to drive online tracking into physical shops, restaurants and gyms. And they should be using social sharing to do this!

Word of Mouth doesn’t just happen online – it needs to be encouraged

It probably never occurs to most of us to tell our friends and family how much we love a brand or retailer – unless a friend or family member asks our opinion, or if we have a great anecdote linked to the brand, like how the airline lost our luggage but gave us cash to buy new clothes until the suitcases showed up! And if it doesn’t spontaneously occur to us online, it is undoubtedly less of a reflex online. For example, when was the last time you spontaneously emailed a friend to say how much you love American Airlines or GAP?

So if retailers don’t do something to encourage Word of Mouth, chances are it won’t happen much or at all. But just asking your online customers to ‘tell your friends’ doesn’t really work either. To really generate sharing,
you need to enable and empower your customers and provide intelligent and motivational rewards for both
the sharer and the recipient of your brand’s message. Our experience from having implemented innovative ‘invite-a-friend’ programmes with over 100 of the World’s leading brands has taught us that to really generate viral sharing, you need to mix smart rewards, gamification and communal targets.

Turning People into Purchases

In this age of the connected shopper, where the path to purchase extends well beyond the four walls of a store, it’s often easy to ignore the impact that a well-considered and compelling point-of-purchase message can have on purchase decisions.

Introducing banks of gleaming iPads to enable shoppers to go online in-store can be helpful, but do we really want to do all that pre-purchase research online, only to be faced with more screens in-store? Actually, most of us would probably rather embark on the process of actually shopping.

Digital shop assistant

The shop is, was, and will remain the star and the base for shoppers. But how can retail brands and their agencies turn more shoppers into buyers?

Back in 2009, FMCG giant Procter & Gamble launched what it called its ‘Store Back’ initiative. The concept was pretty simple. Agency partners were mandated to begin by having the end in mind when they were developing ideas – starting the campaign development process by thinking about how a campaign would be executed at retail, and then working backwards.

Whilst shoppers can be the consumer in some instances, they respond to a totally different set of stimuli, sometimes unconsciously, to how they react as a consumer or in planning mode. Advertising is engaging and elicits an emotional connection with the brand. But when it comes to applying that same creative to in-store it becomes all about adapting it to drive transaction. Yes, campaigns in-store should have visual attributes from ATL, but true success requires a creative approach that not only delivers a strong visual message, but also more designed messages to the shopper, promoting why they should choose one brand over another at the moment of purchase consideration.

Rather than simply modifying existing advertising for use in-store, the P&G’s initiative focused on helping its brands to produce more closely targeted executions, to maximise impact at the point-of-purchase – using shopper insight to unearth the barriers to purchase that need to be overcome in-store in order in convert a purchase consideration into a sale.

Coca Cola Zoom

The challenge for retail brands and agencies is to come up with in-store communication that benefits the brand, retailer and shopper – brand and category activations that provide added value, instead of simply replicating creative executions on TV or in print.

Do this well and the retail environment will eventually become the place where ideas are born, not just applied. Perhaps then, traditional marketing lines of demarcation will also begin to disappear – instead being replaced by lines of fully engaged shoppers at the till, which would translate rather well to the bottom-line.

Is physical retail dying?

Is Physical Retail dying? That is the question many retail experts are asking today.

New in-store terminologies and the blending of technology led innovations into in-store experiences may suggest that bricks and mortar have been given a new lease of life and are now in a stable condition, however retailers are doing their best to keep this from flat lining.

Ok, the suggestion that a physical retail environment is suddenly going to go into cardiac arrest may be slightly over exaggerated, but the evolvement of consumer experience, along with the continual rise of disruptive elements such as online, mobile, social and ever-changing consumer expectation, means retailers need to keep on their toes and stay ahead of the game now more than ever.

New ways of reinventing consumer experiences are constantly being put forward by marketers to ensure physical retail continues its revival, gaining further momentum and strength.

Retail shopping

Start-ups and pop-ups

One solution that has reinvigorated physical retail and encouraged growth from new start up brands, as well as established ones, is Lean Retail. As we’ve touched upon in the last few sentences, retail is changing – and not just the customer journey. The retailer’s journey has changed drastically, and can now be mapped out in new phases.

We’ve seen more start-ups take their product to the high street after initially carving themselves out a niche market in the online marketplace. Thanks to the low overhead cost of online retail, brands can now be braver in pitching new products and be less fearful of the dominance some major retail brands have. For many brands whose product has found success online, the next obvious step is finding a physical home and seeing if they can survive on the high street. But is it worth diving in the deep end straight away?

The bricks and mortar retail environment is a highly competitive one, and one where caution should be met with pragmatism. In these fiscally constrained times, combined with escalating long-term rental costs, sustaining a high street retail business is certainly no walk in the park.

With all these factors coming into play, this has paved the way for Lean Retail and manifested itself most prominently in the shape of pop-up shops. Pop-Up retail spaces’ popularity has soared in the past few years and that is thanks to the many rewarding benefits their business model offers to retailers. For they represent a low-risk, short term retail opportunity which give brands the platform to experiment with new products and test the water to see if their product has the legs to make it with the big boys.

Pop-Up’s quirky and fun nature, along with its short length of commitment, makes it a desirable opportunity for retailers to take full advantage of – one that is cost-effective and will be a huge footfall driver.

Retailers also needn’t worry about slow consumer periods when it comes to pop-up shops. The flexibility of their tenancy gives retailers more freedom of choice when it comes to choosing when they want to target the high street. Thanks again to their low cost and short-term benefit, retailers can bring in a pop-up shop when they please, and exploit peak consumer periods such as Christmas and Easter without being present for slow ones.

As the physical retail world becomes more adventurous, expect more brands to embrace a Lean Retail approach and to see pop-up shops continually growing in retail hot spots across the UK.

If you wish to chat about Lean Retail ideas, contact us!

Kemosabe Golden Ticket

Much like Slugworth’s infamous attempts to discover the mysteries hidden within Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, I attempted to infiltrate Kemosabe under the guise of a humble intern copywriter. Sat silently observing in the corner behind a laptop screen, I sought to uncover the secret recipe to Kemosabe’s growth, and understand just how I could replicate their success after just over one year of existence.

After an extremely persuasive message to Co-Founder and Creative Director Phill Clark, in which I pledged youthful enthusiasm, I arrived at the central London office in early July. Expecting to be ferrying mugs of tea from the kitchen to the desk all day with an ever-growing list of names attached to milk and sugar ratios in my head, I was instead made tea and bought coffee as I started working on copy for a global client on my first day. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of the agency – their trust and the creative freedom it allows for.


The small (perfectly formed) team creates a personal experience – not just for an intern, but also for Kemosabe’s clients. Every member of the team knows, speaks to, understands, and is enthusiastic about clients and their business. This shows in daily office life; everyone sits around the same island of desks, surrounded by (undrunk) bottles of Southern Comfort, discussing both professional and casual friendly conversations they’ve had with clients. Whilst this goes on, I order flowers for a valued client’s birthday and research for new briefs from some potential clients.

This intimate and efficient style of functioning is reflected in the fast-paced turnaround of work that occurs to the left of my person. Between the morning brief and lunch on my first day, a full range of posters had been designed before I had even set my email up.  These were easily good enough to be rolled out that morning; however, they were instead refined even further over the following five days, towering over what I thought were my already high standards.


In my 4th week I was even donated a free cream suit after Irv saw my fondness for dodgy outfits – unfortunately, according to passersby I look more Disco Stu than Miami Vice.

Walking into Kemosabe in the midst of their normal working lives, I wasn’t expecting to encounter the range of jobs and services undertaken on a daily basis. As an intern alone I researched music venues and food spaces for live activation events, created mood boards, wrote scripts for TV, planned and created origami for promotional products, researched for briefs, and wrote, edited, and proofread copy to send back to clients.

After one month of interning at Kemosabe I am now sat in the Creative Director’s seat. Since learning the secret to Kemosabe’s success I have made myself a desk plaque and plan to take over.

Kemosabe opens in Amsterdam

London creative agency Kemosabe has extended its presence and proposition to the EU by launching in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam team is to be led by the agency’s senior producer, Sharon Hewitt.

As an independent, dynamic senior project manager with over 15 years of experience, managing creative projects all over the world, Sharon brings an outstanding back catalogue of event experience having led and delivered over a hundred live event and experience projects with budgets ranging from US$5000 – US$2,500,000 per event, from corporate to boutique, incentive to training, festivals to cruises, targeting from 20 to 2000 guests.

Her decision to take this role with Kemosabe comes off the back of leading the delivery of Kemosabe’s incredible work for its global client Cisco, Working with the London creative team and working closely with agency leads, Ian Irving and Rebecca Adair delivered Cisco’s live and film activations at this years Cisco Live in Berlin, as well as leading the production of a number of Advocacy films across globe with agency creative director Phill Clark.

Cisco Spark for Signa

Cisco Spark for Co-Builder

Kemosabe Co-Founder Irving, said, “Sharon understands that success in events rests on the ability to create excellent experiences for clients and their delegates. First, by caring about every detail of each event experience, second by leading a team of event professionals to deliver a successful event and third with imagination and creativity”.

Rebecca Adair continued… “Our decision to broaden our brand footprint into Amsterdam was made all the more easier following a series of relationship building projects with Sharon, she was the obvious choice to deliver our Cisco work and the rest they say is history, we couldn’t have wished for a better candidate”

Hewitt has been able to travel the world managing cultural, complex, rewarding, engaging and exciting programs and had previously hired Kemosabe founder Irving as moderator of a three day event for her client Sanofi Genzyme called The World Against MS and Being born in The Netherlands, raised in Suriname, the Caribbean and the USA, Sharon brings a global and multicultural perspective, and a unique sense of style and diversity when creating and executing her projects.

Hewitt said…I’m deeply honored to be part of Kemosabe and continuously inspired by their infinite creativity and client flexibility. Looking forward to a very long, warm, generous, fun and fruitful collaboration.

Food: An experience of the senses

Food is always high on the agenda in our business and equally in our homes, we are all keen cooks and we reside in an area of London that is bristling with great eateries and a plethora of artisan producers running through the centre of Clerkenwell like an edible spine.

Let’s start by saying – Food is meant to be experienced. The way a dish looks, smells, tastes, and even sounds, factors into it. In our current age of interconnectivity, food has fewer surprises; therefore experiential marketing plays a vital role in creating individuality in a crowded market.

Customers look for an authenticity of experience with a brand, being able to have an emotional connection leads to longevity, especially for chain restaurants that can struggle to keep the buzz when facing competition from independents, which have more freedom.


If a settled restaurant is looking to boost sales and wants to avoid discounting as a means of driving covers, an alternative is needed in which to distinguish itself from competitors. While people tend to stick with the restaurants they know won’t let them down, they are also looking for brands to wow them with something unique. Depending on the execution, experiential marketing can have a widespread effect, particularly in the social age where your customers themselves are a marketing channel.

Experiential marketing for restaurants can take many forms, but at its core the goals remain the same as it would be in any industry; to create long term affinity with the brand and in the case of restaurants, a connection with the customer that reaches beyond the physical walls. It will also show innovation and flexibility that to push itself to find a new audience outside of the traditional restaurant sphere. Customers are now far more savvy to marketers and aware of thinly veiled attempts for sales without building that relationship.

So how should it be used? Experience should be about providing the customer the ability to form their own connection with the brand, not dictate what the brand should mean to them. Too often we try to tell a customer what they should feel with the interaction, rather than simply creating a situation or environment that builds an organic and genuine lasting relationship. Dishoom’s Holi Festival is a great example, a free-spirited event for all ages, not simply sponsored by a restaurant brand, but with an experience rooted in the restaurant offering, with large numbers of people enjoying entertainment, food and a whole lot of gulal throwing.


Great experience marketing like this shouldn’t move the person too far from the essence of the brand and will succeed when both the brand and the consumer benefit. Even with more simple experiences, if you’re asking for them to sign up, or for them to post online – they need to be rewarded, through the enjoyment of the experience itself or physically by what they take away with them.

So where do we go next in the world of restaurant experience marketing? It’s likely that along with the continual use of festival/street activations, that we’ll start to see more initiatives involving technology and interactivity. Digital screens are used by some restaurants, creating entertainment and distraction during waiting times, but virtual reality is becoming more mainstream and the concept of eating in a version of a brand’s homeland, never more appealing… I for one am excited to see where we take experience next.

Experience at the heart of everything

Kemosabe prides itself on a media neutral approach to solutions for our clients; we are also devoted to our strategic philosophy of ‘Inch Wide, Mile Deep’ that is proving to be inspiring to our growing client base. Admittedly however we do follow a common path which is to ensure that everything we do triggers and emotion and delivers some form of emotive and engaging experience.

Experience plays a big part in our lives each day.  Our everyday experiences shape who we are and what we do and the choices we make. Everything from that morning coffee to your daily commute right through to an evening meal at a restaurant chain can be considered an experience.  Our decisions to have these experiences or more commonly repeat these experiences are indicative enough to suggest that we feel fulfilled by these experiences and are not encouraged to remove ourselves away from them in our daily, monthly or yearly routines.


This is just beginning to scratch the surface of what an experience can be defined as, or more so what we can consider to be a positive experience.  There is of course always room to discuss the potential of introducing new experiences into an individual’s life, but any sign of this new experience becoming unsatisfactory for them, the individual in question will no doubt revert back to their more trusted experiences that evoke more positive feelings for them.

This may sound convoluted when analyzing the simplicity of let’s say a morning coffee experience, but it is all in the small details of that experience that can keep an individual coming back for more, or for new uncharted experiences, put them off completely.  As mentioned, it’s simple logic for someone to desire more of something that they have enjoyed or are experiencing some form of satisfaction from.  What are these little details that keep someone coming back for more though?  Is it, in the instance of a morning coffee – taste, price or even convenience?  It’s ultimately up to the experience itself to define how it can satisfy a said individual and to what extremes it wants to go to heighten someone’s experience for the better.

What we must not forget to is that it is the individual who is experiencing that ultimately shapes the experience long term – what does he or she want from their most simple of experiences to their most complex ones as well.  Experiences no matter how inane or trivial they may seem are not one size fits all.