Endorsement Marketing is the New Marketing

Black is the new black? Endorsement marketing is the new marketing? 40 is the new 40? Wait, what?

Let’s face it. When was the last time you tried a new restaurant, bought a book, picked a hotel, or went to go see a movie without having heard something great about it first? Have you ever actually picked up the Yellow Pages and chosen an interior designer based on their ad? Or, are you more likely to call or email your friend and as her who she used?

We are inundated with consumer messages on a near constant basis. Most of these messages are deemed by my hero Seth Godin as so-called “interruptive” messages – marketing messages that are literally designed to interrupt you in whatever you are doing to deliver a message (like a radio ad, or one of those annoying screens that you have to click through to read an online article that you want to read). Interruptive marketing is soooo marketing 1.0.

This cacophony of disparate messaging has made it really hard to get your message out there. Hence the emerging wave of emphasis on how to market in what some folks are calling today’s “Age of Recommendation” – getting your message delivered in the form of authentic endorsements from actual people, notably your customers and 3rd party trusted experts.

Let’s start by consider some of my favorite and successful modern-day consumer phenomena:

  • Zappos
  • Tivo
  • Prius
  • Clifbar
  • Google
  • In ‘n Out Burger
  • Yelp
  • JetBlue
  • LinkedIn
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Kayak.com

True, some of these products and services have some (and in some cases a lot) old school media advertising and behind them. But I’d argue that’s not what has what has made any of these, and other similar phenomenon successful.

The real success of these and others like them comes from exponential growth that’s derived from a phenomenon that some folks off-handedly refer to as “viral” marketing, but in actuality is slightly more nuanced.

When you think about it, viral marketing is really just the notion of something that grows exponentially on it’s own. But what’s really important is knowing what derivative is causing the virus to be viral in the first place. In the case of Hotmail, it was the “want free email” in the bottom of every email sent in a first-to-market webmail environment. When you combine something that’s viral with the concept of the so-called recommendation age, then I believe you truly have a shot at magic. Magic, that when fueled can be so powerful in its effectiveness that it merits it’s own marketing buzzword: “endorsement marketing.

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3 Comments

Filed under Marketing

3 responses to “Endorsement Marketing is the New Marketing

  1. mike handelsman

    Brad – I think the derivation of all of this is the Cluetrain Manifesto, which is a bit outdated at this point, but I believe is the genesis of everything you’re talking about here. Check it out.

  2. Per my business, TheLEK.com, I follow the marketing of online dating sites closely and the funniest marketing gaff out there are the Match.com and eHarmony interuptive, faux-endorsement marketing commercial spots, highlighting real-couples in a totally fake way. Very strange, old-school approach.

  3. Word of mouth has definitely been the best way to advertise a business. Social trust is human nature. We all hear something and think it to be true, until otherwise proven. Or we at least get curious to try it out. Endorsement marketing is definitely not new, nut maybe it has just been named or recognized as an actual category recently.

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