Friendship Marketing

March 20, 2007 - Get free updates of new posts here

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This post is written by author of Starfish and the Spider, Ori Brafman.

It’s not often that I feel like I’m in the fashion know. I’m typically more driven by bargains and am still excited about those jeans I bought on super-extra-final-markdown-sale. Never mind that they look like something a high school kid wore in 1984.

Nonetheless, I have to declare my new Blackberry Pearl truly fashionable. Not only that, it’s a device that is not just fashion- but also geek-worthy. I might be in love with my new Blackberry. But the folks at RIM should be head over heels for Noah Brier.

A few weeks ago Brier was in town for Kagan’s Community Next conference. He and I are talking before the conference, when Brier pulls out his slick new Pearl. Within a minute, I’m trying out all the features with Brier telling me just what an amazing phone it is. Talk about personalized product recommendations..

I’m hooked. The next day I go down to the store and buy one of my own.

noah kagan afro with blackberry pearl phone
Noah with afro & new Blackberry Pearl
A day later, the two Noahs and I are walking in the Mission District in San Francisco, where Brier tells Kagan about the new, amazing Pearl. Like me the day before, Kagan is hooked and buys one the next day. Lastly, Noah shows his friend Prashanth from SayNow, who goes out and buys one. And the story continues….

When you think about it, RIM couldn’t pay for this kind of publicity. Brier’s enthusiasm was genuine, and Kagan and I are just two among a whole bunch of people who bought the Pearl because of Brier.

Other than developing great products, how can companies develop more of what I call “friendship” marketing? That is, how can companies get people like Brier to champion their products?

It comes down to two product marketing tips/things:

1. Identify a person who loves the product and wants to tell everyone about it. This is more than a satisfied user. This is someone who likes the new phone/car/TV/whatever so much that he¹d go out of his way to share his enthusiasm with others.

2. Develop a genuine relationship with this person.
By genuine relationship, I mean a true friendship. There is no forumla for companies to make/manufacture this. What would happen if RIM put Brier on a special list of people who receive new products? Or better yet, what if the Pearl’s designer called Brier and chatted with him about the product. In other words, what if the company made an effort to become friends with Brier. This way they can retain him and get his feedback on future products which is even more valuable.

Bottom Line: Friendship is the key word here. A genuine relationship, where someone like Brier feels appreciated and acknowledged. Where the company makes an effort to be personable. And where a champion like Brier can continue doing marketing and promotions that money can’t buy.