It takes a village

You can’t build a brand alone and the more people you have behind you, the bigger the impact you have. It’s a simple thought and dedicating energy to motivating followership and support from a community can really reap major rewards.

This weekend I am at a conference for Avon where I heard firsthand the importance of this concept as Representative leaders were listening intently to all the presentations and announcements for how they can go back to their team with inspiration, information and renewed energy to foster increased followership and help more and more people build their businesses behind the Avon brand.

The power of motivating a community to get behind an activity is clear to see in a social selling company like Avon. If the community is not in love with the brand and not clear about what’s happening to fuel it, then that will limit the success people have in advocating for and ultimately selling it. At Avon we regularly engage the community and have many events and tactics to engage the full Avon family through the year. The pinnacle being the spectacular Repfest conference which last year had 6000+ attendees! The main stage was electric…repfest

Motivating the community through events is a tactic many social sellers adopt. What is also interesting is the strategy for how these are approached and deployed. An interesting strategy that a different social selling company has adopted in the past is to concentrate efforts city by city to build out their community of followers, staging a full takeover as they toured the nation one place at a time. Rodan+Fields’ recent growth has been phenomenal and this strategy versus a national push fragmenting efforts across the country may have been key to their fast growth. It has certainly illuminated how challenging it may be to rely on traditional push media tactics alone to build followership.rftakemanhattan

Community followership is not confined to social selling brands either. Motivating people to get behind your brand in today’s connected world is a major game changer whatever the business model. Emily Weiss started a blog called ‘Into the Gloss’ in September 2010 with ambition to debunk the stigma of the beauty industry and erase the shame it imparts inferring women are not good enough. In a year that blog grew to achieve 10 million page views a month, and continued to build until October 2014 when she launched her first 4 products under the Glossier brand. The brand is now hailed as one of the industry’s biggest disruptors and has raised $34.4M in venture capital funding to date!

All these examples put communities at the heart of the business model, but this concept can even be applied to activities on traditional CPG brands.

As an example from my personal experience, when I was preparing the launch of a new product at Unilever, it became evident that galvanizing as many people internally behind the launch, energizing them to disproportionately focus on it and getting them to understand the key messages and deliver these effectively externally to retailers and the media was a massive unlock. The Unilever machine is well-oiled but a big organization, with plenty of brands competing for attention and resources. Acknowledging this reality was a critical success factor and taking action paid dividends to the launch.

Beyond building internal followership, one of the key successes to launching this product and many others nowadays is getting the product and brand out there, reviewed online in synch with a launch. Having ecommerce reviews populated and people talking about it is critical. In today’s world of the connected consumer with so much choice and so much noise, community followership and advocacy is key. How do you foster this on your brand?






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