Earlier this year Rijn Vogelaar, the author of The Superpromoter, was kind enough to send me a free of copy his book which has recently been published in English (find out more here). I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago but have been too crazy busy to get a chance to write something before now.
First things first, I would certainly suggest that Rijn’s book is worth reading and that it contains some useful ideas and suggestions, particularly for anybody involved in managing or researching brands and services. Although the book is not a major innovation, nor is it a major contribution to the canon of academic thought about brands and services, it is a practical approach to working in the modern world, with modern consumers, the tools available, and contains at least one very important point (IMHO).
The key point of the book. In my opinion Rijn’s key point, and one I agree with completely, is that most brands and services spend far too much time listening to people who do not really like them, the dissatisfied tail of customers are allowed to wag the dog. Rijn champions the Superpromoter, people who love your brand, people who will advocate it, people who will defend it, people who will be very keen to work with you to co-create a better future. This does not mean that brands and services can forget unhappy customers, but that they should be considered hygiene factors, problems to be attended to, not as the source of future growth of the brand.
Rijn does a good job of situating his recommendations for finding and engaging with Superpromoters within a range of relevant themes, in particular in the context of Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point, Fred Reichheld’s Net Promoter Score, and Mark Earl’s Herd. Rijn makes the point that the other approaches, whilst providing insight, do not actually help the brand manager or researcher go about their job. Rijn illustrates methods of identifying Superpromoters and of working with them to increase the positive word of mouth about a brand.
A good example of Rijn’s practical approach is his analysis of customer loyalty, which he divides into five categories, calculative (rational customers who believe their brand is currently giving the best value), forced (e.g. people with the time, money, or opportunity to switch), normative (someone who believes his current brand is the ‘best’ brand), affective (people who feel good about the brand, perhaps reminds them of their childhood or parents), and traditional (e.g. habit driven loyalty). These different types of loyalty present different threats and opportunities to brands and it is good to see them broken out into discrete categories.
Naturally, there are places where the book is less good, for example when Rijn multiplies up the impact of ten Superpromoters convincing ten people, who each convince ten people. This type of logic is very similar to that used to sell network selling (such as Amway), by stringing together several plausible steps, which result in an implausible outcome.
However, I would recommend reading the book and I suspect that most brand managers and market researchers who implemented large parts of it would find the consequences both beneficial and pleasant. Beneficial because the approaches are, IMHO, capable of increasing sales, and pleasant because you will spend more time with people who love your brand and less with people who are indifferent to it.
Would you like me to write a review fro you? If you are the author or publisher of a book in my sphere of interest I am happy to read it subject to availability (I am quite often too busy) and if I find the book interesting and/or helpful I will certainly blog about it.
I do not write for money for publishers or authors, but I am happy to do so for independent third-parties such as magazines, provided that it is disclosed I am being paid and provided there is no guidance about whether the review should be favourable or not.