Business in 3D - The Power of Advocacy

Power of Advocacy - Business in 3D

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Marketing professionals from across the West Midlands were treated to thought provoking presentations from three different perspectives on Wednesday 2nd June, at the inaugural Business in 3D event.  The breakfast event organised by McCann Erickson and Aston Business School focused on the ‘Power of Advocacy’ and introduced perspectives on the subject from academia, consultancy and business.  



Dr John Rudd, Senior Lecturer in Marketing and Strategic Management, Aston Business School gave the academic perspective.  He began by asking ‘what is advocacy and why is it important?’ John explained that advocates are people who can do your selling for you.  He reported some findings from peer reviewed journals which suggest advocates demonstrate certain behaviours such as re-patronage, market research support, information sharing, trust and commitment.  They can also be relied upon to give word of mouth referrals.

Dr John Rudd

John highlighted a book by Malcolm Gladwell called ‘The Tipping Point’ which introduced the idea of ‘Market Mavens’ i.e. people who are highly knowledgeable about the market and who actively collect information.  John suggested that advocates are like nodes in these information networks, they are very knowledgeable, objective and engender trust, but do not always deliver positive word of mouth.

John then looked at the difference between word of mouth, and what he calls ‘word of mouse’ i.e. the feedback and advocacy taking place online through social media.  He showed an example of web trawl software which can be used by organisations to monitor the comments being made by customers.

Nick Oppenheimer


Nick Oppenheimer, Head of Planning, McCann Erickson Communications House gave the consultancy perspective.  He revealed how positive word of mouth at the extreme can be translated into recommendation.  Nick quoted research which showed 70% of recommendations are prompted by expectation-beating product experience and one in three people come to a brand through a personal recommendation.

Nick emphasised how the web drives recommendation harder and faster.  He gave the example of TripAdvisor which is now a well known tool used by holiday makers who read endorsements before making their booking, and who share information on their experience following their trip.

Nick identified four groups who he believes makes up the audience; experts or trusted authorities (e.g. Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert), experienced customers (e.g. Weightwatchers’ members), super users or opinion leaders and finally the crowd who give their approvals and ratings through sites like Facebook.  Nick highlighted this final group using the example of Adidas who have 2.8 million fans on their Facebook page.

Nick concluded by offering some advice. He argued that organisations must innovate ‘with’ their audience not ‘for’ their audience.  Organisations must help customers, entertain them, move them, and make them feel good.  Customers must receive an experience that they can talk about.  And finally, organisations should start a conversation with their customers.

David Osborne


David Osborne, Head of Marketing for Stanley UK gave the final perspective of the three, from Business.  Stanley are the largest tool company in the world, having recently acquired Black and Decker.  They are a US company with 170 years of history, famous for iconic products like the Stanley Knife.  David explained that Stanley cater primarily for the professional trade market.   However, in the last ten years Stanley began to respond to the growing DIY market.  As a result. Stanley soon found that it had a job to do in re-engaging with the professional trade market.

Stanley realised that they had to come up with a campaign which was going to be exciting and engaging.
Stanley embarked on a campaign called ‘Judgement Day’. This involved representatives going out onto construction sites and talking directly to people.  Stanley identified a group who they called ‘tooled-up top dogs’, mainly manual supervisors on sites who were ideally placed to recommend Stanley products.  Then Stanley delivered the ‘Judgement Day’ experience, which involved giving construction workers the chance to test Stanley products against competitor products in a series of challenges, set in a boxing ring. 
Stanley followed up the campaign through ambient media, posters and videos on the website.  They invited professionals to review the products online.  They also got the trade press on board, inviting them to take part in the same ‘Judgement Day’ experience.

Stanley found that as a result of this campaign sales jumped by 17%, while market share grew by 2.7%.  Brand perception scores also rose and Stanley moved up 150 places in Superbrand.

David concluded his presentation by showing a short video illustrating the ‘Judgement Day’ campaign. 

LinkedIn Network

Following a brief question and answer session, attendees were invited to join a LinkedIn network where discussion would continue.  The aim is for the network to be a source of inspiring questions and answers from a diverse group of marketing professionals.  Each question submitted will receive an answer from each of the three perspectives – academia, consultancy and business.

Business in 3D
Business in 3D
Business in 3D
Business in 3D

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