My Thoughts on Amazon

There they go again. Amazon has now kicked your marketing plan square in the teeth.

Remember today. It was the day that you went from “I am not sure whether referrals work for my company” to “How soon can we launch?”. It is the day Amazon went public with their massive push into referrals.

You will have a refer-a-friend program. The only question will be how deep you are going to go. But you will.

Because even a casual referral turns a customer into an advocate, and Advocates Make Brands. You can do perfect packaging, and create a perfect store “experience” and a gorgeous app. Your brand is not what you do; it is what people say about what you do.

Advocates Make Brands.

Not convinced? Remember all the ratings and reviews that eCommerce sites had in 2000. Neither do I. Because retailers were legitimately afraid. What if people rate the product poorly? What if a review used foul language, or people trolled? What if the reviews were off-brand? Retailers naturally hesitated.

Then, Amazon started eating retailers for lunch – even luxury retailers. They did it in large part by building a community powered by user generated content – ratings & reviews. Then, to compete, more and more people started adding ratings & reviews. And a must-have and very effective capability was born.

Why did Amazon do it? Because it worked. Because the authentic voice of the consumer was more motivating than any hero shot or romance copy.

But perhaps you are a luxury brand, and promotion is anathema. I get it. Maybe Amazon is not a model for you. How about Tesla?

Tesla, the brand that displaced Mercedes-Benz as the symbol of automotive luxury, crushed it with refer-a-friend. They launched their referral program earlier this summer, with huge rewards, and it worked.

Tesla uses no paid digital advertising. But they did refer-a-friend.

So, remember today. And review your 2016 priorities. Amazon just showed you the playbook.

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