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11 August 2017

Ripple Science—Generating Customer Loyalty and Profitable, Sustainable Growth

Every sales, marketing and frontline manager on the planet wishes they had a ‘sixth sense’ for where and how to focus efforts to improve customer loyalty. What if I told you that it’s possible to develop and hone this ability?

In this article, I discuss the evolution of brand marketing from campaigns to movements and introduce Ripple Science—a game-changing approach to customer engagement that ignites purpose, fuels demand and generates profitable, sustainable growth.

The Connected Agency

In 2008 Forrester Research’s Mary Beth Kemp and Peter Kim challenged the advertising industry in their white paper ‘The connected agency’, predicting the survival of agencies would be determined by their ability to evolve from ‘pushing advertising campaigns to nurturing communities of consumers and matchmaking them with brands.’ Kemp and Kim hypothesised that the business of the future will have ‘learned to connect itself’ with defined communities of consumers by cultivating insights into their behaviour as they interact.

Launching Rockets

For more than a decade I worked at the forefront of digital innovation in global advertising. In this context, I witnessed the launch of hundreds of marketing campaigns with a seek-and-destroy approach to winning customers’ hearts and minds—broadcast and impersonal communications that failed to inspire. While ubiquitous social media and social networking have certainly made it easier for marketers to adopt a more ‘human’ approach—in reality, mainstream advertising is costly to maintain and not proven to drive loyalty. In fact, a campaign that targets consumers statistically and without context is like launching a rocket into space with a broken guidance system.

Today, communication is faster, simpler and more intimate. Connection is currency.

Campaign Mission Control

At go-live, campaign mission control observes the rocket as it blasts off into the stratosphere, anticipating (desperately hoping) that the rocket will fly true and without incident toward its target. Surely this approach seems haphazard, if not somewhat insane? Here’s the thing: statistical analysis, demographic research, creative design, channel planning and media-buy are all attempts to predetermine outcomes.

Marketers don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future and neither are they able to control the environment of a campaign once it has launched.

A lot can cause that rocket to falter—economic instability, simultaneous competitor campaigns, industry aggressors and peer-to-peer reviews from disgruntled customers, not to mention gravity. Escaping the atmosphere is no mean feat. Keeping that campaign rocket in the sky consumes vast amounts of energy, but what goes up must come down. When the rockets fuel (that is, the media budget and resources) is depleted, it stalls and falls out of the sky, and the campaign has zero visibility.

Manipulating environmental factors won’t ensure campaign success. In fact, no amount of deal persuasion, relevance or content optimisation can mitigate the attrition of a campaign once it has launched. Despite what many marketers believe, the solution isn’t a shinier, more technologically advanced rocket. The question is, what fills the void?

From Campaigns to Movements (the game-changer for brands)

The authors of the book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements, describe the contrast between the two perfectly:

Follow the bouncing ball. Movements start with the first conversation. Those conversations create stories. And those stories connect people. But it can be argued campaigns have stories. Ah, but campaigns have no soul. People bring soul into the picture. And soul just happens to breathe life into movements. Soul is immaterial, full of emotion, and comes from people—not platforms. Soul begins deep within the recesses of your chest. It’s wrapped in what you stand for, and it permeates every aspect of what you do and say.

Ripple Science: Connection > Initiation > Transference

The main difference between a campaign and a movement is that people are invested emotionally in a movement. Fueled by conversation, a movement gains power as it diffuses (when its context and story spreads from person to person). Think of this diffusion as a continuous cycle of connection, then initiation (to a specific context or sequence of actions) and transference—the invitation of friends and peers to co-create and contribute to this context.

Here’s the game-changer—enabling a continuous cycle of connection, initiation and transference causes a ripple effect, progressively transforming the reach, sustainability and impact of communications. When replicated en-masse, like rain on a pond’s surface the ripples converge and change the state of its environment, catalysing as a movement.

Sparking a movement isn’t rocket science—it’s Ripple Science.

When a brand’s customers and community of stakeholders passionately engage and become its biggest champions and referrers, amazing things happen. People are more conscious of their environment and each other, and culture becomes less reactive—the usual stress and fatigue of change is replaced by a new and vital energy that ripples throughout. I’ve spent the past decade empowering catalysts in organisations with an essential system, skills and techniques to create ripples, and the results are enticing.

Transforming the culture and impact of your brand or enterprise is entirely feasible with Ripple Science—that is, if you commit to transparency and its mode of operation. It’s a proven approach on countless commercial and non-profit initiatives worldwide. From a marketing point of view imagine creating ripples as being less about timing and ‘casting the net wider’, and more co-creating enduring value with employees and customers.

A ripple system is a people-powered engagement ‘engine’ that mimics the reach, sustainability and impact of a movement.

The CATALYST Engagement System presented in my book, EMERGENT, codifies the core elements and attributes of Ripple Science. It is an essential ripple ‘system’ that has empowered brands and organisations of all shapes and sizes to ignite purpose, growth and impact, achieving results for their most critical causes.

Learning Ripple Science is prerequisite knowledge for any business serious about generating profitable, sustainable growth. The knock-on effect is powerful, improving engagement, NPS, and bottom line. If you want to create a culture your customers love and employees truly feel proud of, I invite you to Ignite Your Customer Tribe.

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