On November 15, Robin Broder, Vice President of Marketing, MMC Corp, will present the Webinar “Capitalizing on Referrals in Your Marketing Plan.” Last week, SMPS interviewed Robin about her interest in this topic, effective ways referrals are being used in marketing, program takeaways for Webinar participants, and emerging trends.
SMPS: What unique qualifications do you bring to this program?
Broder: In my role, I manage all marketing communications for a national $450 million construction services company. While most marketers only focus on the external audience, I have a huge passion for starting from the inside. And that’s because our people make our brand, not my marketing efforts. Our people are the ones on the front-lines making our company real to our clients, so as such, they need to be our biggest brand ambassadors. I love helping them feel more comfortable sharing our story—rooted in their passion for our company—with all those they come in contact with, especially the clients who buy our services.
That’s worth so much more to us than many of the pay-to-play marketing tactics that so many companies invest so heavily in. My ultimate goal is to create “brand ambassadors” both inside and outside the firm.
I’ve also found I tend to think a little differently than other A/E/C marketers. Maybe that’s because most of my career was spent on the consumer marketing side, not the B2B construction industry. Prior to joining MMC Corp, I spent a decade at Fleishman-Hillard, the world’s largest PR firm, providing marketing strategy to world-class brands including Hallmark, Proctor & Gamble, and Hewlett-Packard. That has given me a different perspective on the B2B industry, because I have seen that the way people make decisions as consumers (in their personal lives) is actually very similar to how they make decisions on which companies they choose to work with, day-to-day, in their business lives.
They are much more connected than you first might think. We all make our decisions by listening to others, trusting our gut, and taking recommendations from our trusted network of peers, no matter what we are buying: from a $100 personal camera to a $100 million commercial contractor. The ultimate business decision comes down to people wanting to work with those they feel the most comfortable with, especially if all other things are equal. Much of that has to do with people taking recommendations from people they know and trust. That’s what this Webinar is about.
SMPS: In your research and experience with this topic, what is the most effective way you have seen a firm apply the concepts?
Broder: We live in an age where anytime you are faced with a decision -- on what to buy, where to go, or who to hire -- you have this unbelievable, instant access to a trusted recommendation to help you make that decision. This includes everything under the sun. In your personal life, it’s posting a Facebook status asking your friends for ideas on where to eat dinner if you have a layover in Orlando, or what digital camera to purchase your mother for Christmas. In the work world, it’s tweeting your network to see who uses Autodesk Revit vs. Bentley, or starting a LinkedIn discussion to find the latest research on IPD and where it’s actually working. Within minutes, we receive passionate responses, and they are all from trusted people in our network.
When faced with decisions, we are always going to gravitate towards what someone else thinks, says, or recommends; especially someone who has more experience with that topic than we do.
It’s only natural. A recent study by Nielsen (Trust in Advertising Report) showed that 78% of people trust recommendations from other consumers, and that number jumps to 90% if the recommendation comes from a peer. On the flip side, just 14% trust advertisements. When you think about that statistic, it’s amazing to me that marketers don’t focus 78% of their budgets, time, and efforts on building referrals and leveraging testimonials. People do business with people, not businesses. It’s always been about trust; it’s always been about relationships. And in this crazy economy, that’s never been more apparent than now. Building relationships and cultivating ambassadors for your brand is going to be the only way you stay in business.
SMPS: What is the most important takeaway participants will gain from this program?
Broder: You’ll learn the easiest ways to secure testimonials from clients, as well as from people inside your own firm. Endorsements from your own technical staff are sometimes the most powerful arsenal in your marketing toolbox. To help with that, you will learn five steps for creating internal advocates for your brand. You’ll also learn how to leverage those testimonials once you receive them so that they work even harder for you. Bottom line, testimonials from those inside and outside your firm simply make your job easier – think about it, you are getting others to spread the word for you. You’re adding numerous people to your marketing team, minus the overhead and performance reviews…
SMPS: What's the most interesting trend you are following? How do you think this trend will impact professional services marketing and business development, especially in the design and building industry?
Broder: I’m fascinated at how there is no longer any blur between our work lives and our personal lives. With the growth in digital media—and especially mobile technology—there is no longer any “work you” and “personal you.” It’s all out there for everyone to see. I used to say I wasn’t going to have “work friends” on my Facebook page, and that I’d save those relationships for LinkedIn. That idea lasted about 20 seconds. There is no way to have a line anymore between those two lives. The transparency digital communication begins means we are all inter-connected.
And with the rise in mobile technology, your work is truly with you 24-7. I think this is the trend that will have the biggest impact on our industry. Those firms that can embrace mobile technology—for example, developing proprietary mobile apps for their clients—will rise to the top. It’s definitely our future. Next year people will use their phones for internet access more than their PCs. We are moving to a day when our phones are our PCs, and we won’t need two devices. Start researching now what impact that will have on your company, your competition, and your clients. It will change your business.
To learn more, register today for “Capitalizing on Referrals in Your Marketing Plan” on November 15, 2011, at 2:00 pm EDT, 1:00 pm CDT, Noon MDT, 11:00 am PDT.