Tag Archives | Creative

Ambassador Program Turns Customers Into Salespeople

Few companies realize the value of their most passionate customers. They occasionally acknowledge them with frequent buyer programs or other discounts, but it’s rare for a company to really empower their customers to share their passion for the company and its products or services with others.

Most companies rely on salespeople to position the benefits of their products or services to potential customers. Good salespeople do this in a way that excites customers about the possibilities and potential of using what they’re selling, but their ‘passion’ for the product is motivated by the paycheck they get for selling it, not by the product itself.

However, if you give your passionate customers the tools they need to share their passion for your product or service with others, and reward them for doing so, you can create an army of great ‘salespeople’ who will do more for your company than any high paid salesperson ever could.

That’s the beauty of a well executed ambassador program. With a small investment in materials, it becomes a formalized, simplified, and easy to maintain word of mouth marketing campaign that the company itself can participate in.

Bose Curtosey Card

The Bose Courtesy Card set the standard for a well executed ambassador program. Customers who were using (and loving) their Quiet Comfort headphones while flying would get asked about them by other passengers, and instead of disrupting the quiet zone that the headphones created, the customer could simply hand the person a Courtesy Card and let them check out Bose on their own time.

It was simple and easy for the customer to do (not to mention unique and ‘cool’) and it also gave Bose control over the message that potential customers received.

Fishing

If you think of sales as fishing for customers, then Bose provided the bait, and just asked that current customers set the hook. After the initial interaction, potential customers would come to Bose, and all Bose had to do was reel them in.

iPod Silhouette

The hype that Apple generated with their white headphones is well known, and an Ambassador Program is like a whole army of white headphone wearers, but ones who have been given the tools necessary to help convert that initial interest and opportunity into additional sales.

Surprisingly, I haven’t seen many companies follow in the footsteps of Bose, which is why I was intrigued by Foursquare’s announcement of their Ambassador Program.

Foursquare Ambassador Card

Foursquare users love the deals they get from participating venues, but venues can’t provide deals if they don’t know about the service, so Foursquare created the Ambassador Program to help users spread the word. As long as you’re a “creative and excited evangelist”, Foursquare will send you a pack of Foursquare Ambassador Cards that are custom-printed with your name on them for you to hand out to the businesses that you frequent. Assuming that the businesses use the cards to sign up, Foursquare says that “the businesses get details about their foot traffic and loyal customers, and you and your fellow foursquare users will see more Specials at your favorite places.”

With the Ambassador Cards, Foursquare rewards users by crediting them with the creation of the location, and users get additional rewards when their favorite locations sign up and start offering deals and discounts. It’s a win-win, and Foursquare is simply enabling and encouraging their most passionate users do the selling for them.

One of the main reasons businesses get involved in social media is that they want to support the word of mouth marketing that customers are doing online. With a well planned ambassador program, you can get those same benefits offline as well with a small investment in materials and a way to thank those customers who are out there doing your work for you.

Foursquare Ambassador Program

Indie iPhone Developers Collaborate For Character Cameos

Minigore Enviro-Bear Collaboration

Size often dictates what a company can and can’t do with their advertising: Larger companies can use their larger budgets to make a big splash if needed, and smaller companies can get away with scrappier methods that larger companies can’t even consider. One example of the small and scrappy side of advertising is the recent trend among iPhone game developers of collaboration, in which they will swap character cameos as a way of cross-promoting each game to the other game’s audience.

Examples include:

  • Minigore’s John Gore swings through the worlds of Sway.
    Minigore Sway
  • Enviro-Bear 2010’s Enviro-Bear and Lizzy from Sway will make cameos in the upcoming release of Minigore.
    Minigore Cameos
  • Harbor Master features a special episode called Pocket God Attacks! which features the characters from Pocket God.
    Pocket God Attacks
  • Pocket God added a new episode to their game called Bait Master, which pays homage to Harbor Master.
    Bait Master
  • The Creeps features characters from both Doodle Jump and Pocket God.
    Creeps Doodle Jump Pocket God
  • Doodle Jump features a secret easter egg character from Pocket God.
    Doodle Jump Pocket God
  • And the list goes on…

GSB Overgrowth

In addition to iPhone developers, indie PC developers are also getting in on the action, as demonstrated by Cliff Harris from Gratuitous Space Battles featuring rabbit shaped spaceships that take their design cues from Jeff Rosen’s game Overgrowth.

What makes this trend so interesting is that with traditional advertising, companies avoid promoting their competitors at all costs. In the indie space however, developers see other developers as more friend than foe, and are willing to help each other do what it takes to get their name out there. Perhaps it’s the fact that iPhone game pricing means consumers don’t need to pick one game or another, as they can just buy both, or perhaps it’s the fact that indie shops are often just one or two man armies, and so they see each other as a support system, but either way, there’s a different type of relationship between indie developers that you don’t see in most spaces.

When talking about his collaboration with Jeff Rosen, Cliff Harris said:

The thing I find really interesting though, is the way in which our companies can do stuff like this, where we promote each others games, even stick content from one game in another, with the minimum of fuss. When I suggested we stick a rabbit ship in GSB to see how it could work, I didn’t need to get my lawyer to talk to Wolfire’s lawyer. I didn’t need a strategic planning meeting with the head of corporate strategy, or have to justify to shareholders why we should help out what they would see as our competitors…

This is what I like about the Indie attitude. Indie devs often share tips on game coding, getting decent contract work done, promoting websites and running forums, even the financial side of the best payment providers and who knows a decent accountant etc.

Can you imagine the head of EA giving the head of Activision tips on how to save on their bandwidth bill?

This is the indie attitude, and the indie advantage. We tend to take it for granted, because at the end of the day, me and Jeff are two guys who love games and love making games. Somewhere along the line, the mainstream industry forgot that.

Since the Minigore/Enviro-Bear collaboration was what sparked the idea for this post in the first place, I decided to reach out to the developers with a few questions and see if they’d respond. Not one to disappoint, Kimmo from Mountain Sheep replied to my questions with some great insight into the world of the indie developer:

  • As an indie developer, what challenges do you face with advertising your game?
    The biggest challenge is to stand out among all the noise. You need to come up with something clever and eye-catching every time since you don’t have the budget to just push it through. It makes you pick your shots. Which is great, because it forces you to be creative.
  • How did you come up with the idea of adding characters from other games into your own?
    Timo (the artist behind Minigore) took a bunch of different characters and gave them the Minigore-treatment – just for fun. It turned out the style worked really well and we asked ourselves: what would be the wackiest thing you could do with the upcoming co-op update… we had just recently played Enviro-Bear and it was almost immediately obvious we just wanted to get the darn bear into the game. Timo got a hold of Justin Smith and he loved the idea. We felt so good about the whole thing that we wanted others in, too, and got some great names. Lizzy from Sway is going to make an appearance and we also have others we haven’t even revealed yet.
  • Do you think it’s easier as an indie developer to do collaborations like this?
    The great thing about being an indie is you get to do whatever you personally think is right. It’s definitely a lot easier for indies to collaborate like this. It takes a lot of negotiation and paperwork to get two large companies to collaborate, but with smaller teams you can get the ok even on the same day!
  • Are collaborations just a fun way to work with other developers, or do you think they help cross-promote both games?
    They are both. It makes the whole process of developing so much more fun by offering a deviation from the daily routine. In the App Store the visibility on the device itself is crucial and that’s where cross-promotion and collaborations can really help. On-device cross-promotion is in fact how some of the larger companies with lots of games in the store are able to get their games to climb the charts. Indies on the other hand usually don’t have that many games, so collaborations like this can be huge for them.
  • What game would you love to see John Gore play a role in?
    Now that Disney has bought Marvel, John Gore absolutely needs to get involved in the mash-up and get his ass handed to him by the Iron Duck or Gooferine.

Unfortunately, I don’t think collaboration is a technique that will work for many industries, as the willingness to enter into a reciprocal relationship is a lot easier for indie shops that don’t have a team of lawyers scrutinizing each and every word in a contract. For those that can make it work though, it’s a great way to not only get the word out about your product, but to build a support system of peers for yourself along the way.

The Good:

  • Collaboration benefits both parties.
  • Advertising without ads avoids banner blindness.
  • Helps smaller companies build a support system.

The Bad:

  • Difficult for larger companies to manage.
  • Runs the risk of lopsided agreements that benefit one company more than the other.

The Future:

  • Small companies help themselves by helping one another, benefiting the industry as a whole and giving extra value to consumers along the way.