Chris Cowan to speak at TEDx London Business School

Clusters : Louise Altman Louise Altman, April 26th 2016 News

26th April 2016

We’re excited to announce that Chris Cowan, Managing Director of Clusters, will be speaking at the annual TEDx London Business School conference on the 29th April. The TEDx London Business School conference is an annual event that aims to encourage the discussion of new ideas and perspectives. Each year they explore a new theme, with 2016 being the year of ‘Ctrl, alt, delete’ – reset your expectations and make room for new ideas about transformation, innovation and achievement.

Chris will be doing just this, around the topic of advocacy. He will be asking, “how does word of mouth really work?”. It is clear that with the rise of social media and the ability to message many people via the click of a button, a fundamental change in the advocacy landscape was inevitable. Chris will take inspiration from a recent study Clusters conducted with Digital Animal, which aimed to uncover this change through a new segmentation of current recommending behaviours. To conduct this research we first spoke to people who had recently recommended something, and then spoke to the people at the receiving end of recommendations to get their views too. We looked in great detail at the factors of who, why, and the connection to the category and brand and how they affect the power of individual word-of-mouth communication and its ability to replicate virally.

What the study uncovered is that for business, there is no free lunch. What may seem efficient ways to harness advocates through simple refer a friend type schemes ends up attracting the wrong sorts of advocates who actually have little power in the marketplace and may in fact, hurt your reputation, either as a recommending individual or as a business brand funding this type of activity. In fact, a critical discovery of this work is that two segments, 22% of recommenders, account for 64% of all word of mouth recommendations, most of which are online to an extended network, through social media in particular. These recommendations are generally encouraged by business through some sort of reward system. Yet, it is these two segments that are shown to have the least influence on behaviour; their recommendations are mostly discounted by those they recommend to. Are businesses wasting time and energy attracting the segments that aren’t providing any value?

It’s clear then, that treating people as people, not just as consumers or shoppers is not only good for business, but is good for everyone. Yet the majority of advocacy programs are robotic, soulless and wasteful. There is a better way. Chris Cowan will explain how this is possible at the TEDx London Business School event later this week.

Want to learn more? You can read about the event or purchase tickets on the TEDx London Business School website, or contact us for further information.