Tag Archives | Potential

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

Augmented Reality Will Change Advertising

Vuzix Wrap 920AV

In the spring of 2009, Vuzix will release a product that could forever change the way we think about advertising: the Wrap 920AV.

Vuzix is a leading manufacturer of video eye wear for the consumer, medical, and defense & industrial markets, and their Wrap 920AV sunglasses will be the first to feature ‘see-thru’ Quantum optics technology, allowing you to see the world around you in addition to the screen in front of you. With this new technology, as well as with their optional six degrees of freedom head tracking system and stereo camera accessories, augmented and virtual reality experiences will be possible that redefine the way we interact with information.

Since this is all very conceptual, perhaps it’s best to look at a few examples of how this new technology could be used in the world of advertising. Previously, we looked at Mini’s Augmented Reality Magazine Advertisement, and how it allowed consumers to interact with a 3D model of the Mini vehicle using existing technologies that almost every new computer owner has access to. While this was great for demonstrating proof of concept, there was still a disconnect between holding the magazine in front of a webcam and then moving the magazine around to view the Mini from different angles, and actually interacting with the Mini as if it were a physical model.

Vuzix Wrap 920AV Accessories

Now imagine viewing that same advertisement, but through a pair of the Vuzix glasses. By using the stereo camera attachment, each screen in the Vuzix glasses would be a live video of what was located directly in front of the glasses, and because you could see around the video screen as well, it would blend into your field of view, adding to your overall experience in a very natural way, rather than removing you from it. Thus, what you would see in front of you would appear to be the ad as if you were looking at it with your very own eyes, but you would actually be seeing a video of the ad being relayed through the cameras.

Unlike your own eyes, the cameras would be feeding through a computer, and that computer could then display a 3D model of the car into your field of view using the screens in front of you. Now though, instead of moving the magazine around to interact with the augmented reality, you could simply move your head around to view the car from different angles as if you were looking at a physical model of the car. Want to look inside or see the car from a different angle? Just move your head as if the car really existed. With almost no learning curve, it would be a very natural and intuitive thing to do.

What separates augmented reality from actual reality though would be the ability to quickly and easily change any part of the car to suit your taste. Want to see how a different set of wheels would look with your favorite color of paint? Just click, and the new wheels would instantly appear on the 3D model. Taking the idea even further into the future, now imagine that you can control the 3D model on your desk using your keyboard. Instead of just viewing the car from different angles, you can now drive it around your desk like a video game, interacting with it as if it were a real toy in front of you.

Wrist Watch

For another example, imagine a watch company that creates an augmented reality tag that can be included in its magazine ads. By simply placing that tag onto your wrist and then viewing it through the Vuzix glasses, a virtual representation of the watch would appear on your wrist. Sure, you could technically do that now by creating a paper cut out of the watch and placing that on your wrist, but with augmented reality, the watch could instantly transform into any model that the company makes. Plus, instead of just laying on your wrist like a static representation, a watch viewed through augmented reality could actually tick away like a real watch, showing the current time and giving you a very accurate idea of what the real watch would look like on your wrist.

The Possibilities Are Endless

In addition to their stereo camera accessory, their head tracking system would also allow you to move and rotate your viewing perspective forward and backward, up and down, and left and right by just moving your head in the desired direction. To see how this could change the way we think about advertising, imagine a realtor that allows you to take virtual tours of their homes from the comfort of your own home without ever leaving the couch. Or how about an auto company that lets you sit in front of your computer and view the interior of their car as if you were sitting in one on the showroom floor.

While all of the above may have seemed like science fiction just a few years ago, we’ve finally reached the point where it’s both economically and technologically feasible to create virtual and augmented reality worlds that the average person can interact with and understand. Of course, like any new technology, it’s going to need a huge amount of adoption to break into the mainstream, but considering the potential that a device like this would enable, I don’t think they’ll have a hard time convincing people to give it a try. The question is, will advertising be ready to utilize this new medium to its full potential?

The Good:

  • Augmented and virtual reality is a technology that already exists.
  • Video glasses will allow the average consumer to interact with this technology in a very natural way.
  • Price will be affordable for most consumers.

The Bad:

  • Needs a large amount of adoption to be economically feasible for advertisers.

The Future:

  • Interactive ads viewed through augmented reality glasses allow consumers to interact with virtual products as if they were physical objects.

Vuzix – Wrap 920AV

Watch Image Via Caitlinator

This Is Where We Live Captures The Imagination

4th Estate

Online video gives a company certain freedoms that a typical television commercial does not, including more time to dive into and build out an idea, additional content for the interested viewer that’s just a click away, and sharing functionality that the audience can use to help spread the message. Unfortunately, many companies are not yet comfortable with the tools and techniques of this new advertising channel, and they end up just trying to repurpose their television content for the online world without fully understanding the needs and desires of their new audience. Thus, it’s always refreshing to see a brand that really understands the potential of this new medium, and explores it to the fullest.

For 4th Estate Publishing, their understanding of online video and its potential led to the creation of a beautiful stop motion film called This Is Where We Live that celebrates 2009 as their 25th anniversary, as well as their ground-breaking, international literary agenda. Since 4th Estate knew they wanted ‘something stunning’, they contacted Apt Studio, which proposed “a crazy, beautiful and ambitious 3-minute animation”.

The animation would take place in a city made – literally – out of books, and we would pass through the city like a bird flying down the streets, witnessing scenes from these books taking place in lots of different districts over the course of an afternoon, evening and early morning.

Each district would loosely represent part of their publishing programme – from ‘Museum District’ made up of non-fiction, to the ‘edgy fiction’ part of town (Soho and the red light district) to the European cafe district in the early morning referencing work in translation.

All of the buildings and people would be made out of books, and the pages of those books, influenced in part by artists Thomas Allen and Su Blackwell.

Thankfully, 4th Estate loved the pitch, and Apt (and their ‘mates’ at Asylum Films) quickly set to work creating their vision.

Step one was to wrap their heads around the scale of the project they had in mind. Since stop motion videos are made by stitching together individual photos into one fluid video, they calculated that they would need to set up and shoot roughly 2,700 separate photographs to make the three minute film at 15 frames per second. (180 seconds x 15 frames/second = 2,700 frames) So what’s involved in making 2,700 frames of stop motion magic?

According to Apt, about two weeks, twenty animators and model-makers, and over 1,000 different books that were sacrificed for the cause. (Though they did note that the books were either kept as memento’s or recycled, in case you were worried about the environmental impact of destroying a thousand books.) In the end though, the effort and sacrifice was well worth it, as they created a film that was equal parts crazy, beautiful and ambitious, and captures the imagination of readers and non-readers alike:

However, 4th Estate was not going to be satisfied with a video that was just thrown online for an audience to find and enjoy, so they created a separate portal to house the video, as well as production stills, time-lapse videos that chronicled the making of the film, crew bios, and links to buy the books featured in the video. Though it’s a lot of work above and beyond just putting the video online, it’s these extensions that ultimately make or break the success of the campaign.

Behind The Scenes

First, the production stills give you a glimpse behind the curtain and allow you to see exactly how much work went into creating each scene. Sure, you can tell people that it took twenty different people more than two weeks to create the video, but when you can show them the process behind each step along the way, the message really starts to sink in, and the audience appreciates the film not only for the end result, but also for the effort that went into getting to that end result.

Second, Apt and Asylum created several behind the scenes time-lapse videos that documented everything from individual sections of the film to specific effects and members of the staff hard at work. Together, these additional videos become a user-controlled documentary about the film and how it was made, and viewers can dive into individual scenes that caught their eye and watch them in more detail to see exactly how they were made. Each video is also hosted on a custom Vimeo channel in addition to being embedded on the site, so anyone that likes the videos can take them and embed them into their own site, as well as allowing Apt to engage the pre-existing community of users on Vimeo.

The Good:

  • Understanding the potential of online video allowed 4th Estate to create art that would find its way in front of many new customers.
  • Viewers that really enjoy the video are given the tools they need to easily share and promote it.
  • Creating a portal to house the video and additional content allows interested viewers to dig deeper and find more information.
  • Unique stop motion technique that focuses on books reinforces what the 4th Estate brand in a non-verbal, yet still easy to understand way.

The Bad:

  • Length of the video might be too long to hold the attention of some viewers.

The Future:

  • The unique capabilities of online video allow companies to create more engaging video content, and allow their audience to help spread the message for them.

This Is Where We Live

5th Estate – This Is Where We Live