Archive for October, 2009

Can influence marketing increase adoption?

As the challenging economy continues, more firms that I come into contact with are asking about how to improve their adoption rates. By this, I understand them to mean that they want to know how to get the customers they already have to increase their usage of the products or services they have already bought so that the relationship is more valuable to the firm, and presumably the customer too. It’s a close-cousin to cross-sell, where firms try to get the customers they already have to buy some additional products, so that the relationship increases in value. In the interest of time/space, this post is only going to try to tackle adoption, not cross-sell. It is also only going to focus on influence marketing as a solution, and will not address the myriad other possible solutions that might be invoked in these situations.

Adoption challenges can take at least the following two forms, and each requires different influence strategies.

Adoption challenge #1
The supplier has sold a product into an entire enterprise, but the employees of that enterprise are not embracing it in sufficient numbers to meet the supplier’s objectives. The influence strategy that is most likely to work in this situation is to speak to the non-adopters through the adopters.

For example, say a supplier sold the firm a pet insurance policy for its pet-owning employees, but only a few of the company’s pet-owning employees signed up. What influence strategies would be most appropriate to address this situation?

  • Engage those employees who did adopt the pet insurance to provide live testimonials at the firm’s employee benefits day, during open enrollment meetings, and at brown bag lunches arranged specifically for this purpose. Encourage those giving testimonials to detail how having pet insurance provided them with peace of mind, and helped them to avoid a financial catastrophe when their pet recently required costly surgery.
  • Digitally record testimonials from employees who did sign up for pet insurance, and (with permission of course) make the videos available to the company for use on their intranet, corporate website, and video monitors located at employee sites.
  • Extract quotations from the recorded testimonials and publish the quotations (with permission of course) in brochures about the pet insurance product, and in handouts used for new employee orientation.
  • Adoption Challenge #2
    The supplier has sold a product into one department of a firm, and the appropriate number of people in that department have embraced that product, but in order to meet its objectives, the supplier needs to convince leadership in another department that their workers should adopt that product as well. The influence strategy that is most likely to work in this situation is to explicitly refer non-adopters to the adoptors, rather than having the adopters initiate the dialogue with the non-adopters, as above.

    For example, say a supplier sold marketing services into one of three marketing departments within a large firm, and needs to sell marketing services into the other two departments to meet its objectives. What influence strategies would be most appropriate to address this situation?

  • Leverage your relationship with the department that did buy your services to learn about any important differences between the three marketing departments, to ask for guidance about how best to stimulate a response from the other two departments, and to prepare the key contacts in the client department to answer questions that might be posed by the other departments.
  • Employing what you learned from the client department, reach out to the other two departments directly with information about your services, an offer that will pique their interest, and a specific reference to your relationship with the department that did buy your services. More often than not, that will at least spark an inquiry by the non-adopter department to the adopter department.
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