The most exciting objective. Not being Number One.

Published 14.01.2013

Not literally. I promise. Being number one (biggest, largest, best – read what you will) is still most organisations’ target or aspirations.

We’ve all been witness to the rise and rise of the word ‘Advocacy’. Today’s buzz word 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 adopts advocacy, recommendation, sentiment, or Net Promoter Scores as a strategic measurement is taking great steps in the right direction. Of course, it’s those that do something to positively impact the performance of those areas that are really getting it right. And reaping the rewards.

There’s also been great buzz around McKinsey’s 2009 (seems a long time ago) ‘Loyalty Loop’ or Consumer Decision Journey, as a new view of the world, moving away from the traditional awareness driven purchase funnel. Again – a great tool. Powerful. Insightful. And absolutely on the mark.

The trouble is, brands are finding it hard to intelligently turn all of these great insights into board level objectives. Objectives that sound robust and important. That can 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 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. But their simplicity is genius.

Locked up within that objective is a wealth of unwritten content. Not least, to be recommended you have to be good. But the customer experience, pricing, communications, 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 million miles off for most brands. And who doesn’t aim to be the best. And their can be only one best. 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 owner is the short track to becoming one, or both, of the others.

But being the most recommended is compelling, participative and something that everyone from product design to sales and customer service to logistics can 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 world we’re in, nothing but nothing is more important. The relationships we have with yours customer are critical.

Customer 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 low hanging fruit. The customer is still King.

I can’t think of a more contemporary, buzz-word 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.