Brand Promoters & Detractors

Episode 56

Derek and Tucker discuss how high-level promoters increase your NPS and how to turn the tides on your detractors.


Today we’re talking about people who love it and people who hate it.

Derek The promoters and detractors of your brand.

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Tucker In a research study for private clubs, recently with Sprocket, one of our partners, this came back within the brand’s role in promoters and detractors. And if you don’t know what promoters and detractors are, maybe we’ll start there and kind of go back to how this works. It’s really relevant for us right now as we’re talking to clients, and as we’re moving through the beginning of the year. There’s a little bit of what we are improving on and what we are changing. How do we make those detractors, the people who don’t like our services or our brand, into promoters? How do we help them help us? But let’s get into promoters and detractors really quick before I dive too deep into anything else.

Derek At a high level, a promoter is somebody who advocates for your brand, probably spreads the word, champions you, and tells other people about you. If this is a member of a private club, this is somebody who is probably out there actively recruiting new members.

Tucker If this is a fan of one of your teams, this is someone who’s out there telling everybody how great you are. Maybe they went to a game and they’re telling people about the experience. Versus a detractor who is the opposite.

Derek You think of sporting goods. I remember when my kids were growing up playing baseball, for example, there would be a product or a brand of product that would come out, and sometimes it would take traction. A bunch of the parents and players would become promoters of it. And next thing you know, the entire team is repping this product. But when something goes wrong, whether the product doesn’t perform, or whether it’s brand perception, and they become detractors, you’re out.

Tucker It goes quick. It comes in quick and it goes out quick.

Derek You might not get a second chance.

Tucker No. And there’s this idea of word of mouth where people are telling other people and it just spreads like wildfire. And that’s great. But it also goes inversely as well.

Derek So I think the point of today’s conversation is for everybody to realize that no matter what you do, no matter what industry you’re in, there are probably people who are promoting you. And there are likely some people, hopefully, a very small number, who are not shouting your praises.

Tucker Absolutely. The reason we got to this conversation, if you’re listening and you don’t know what we’re talking about – promoters and detractors – and where those terms come from, that comes from the Net Promoter Score – NPS. It’s a really popular way to measure your satisfaction ratings across different audiences, across different areas. So if you’re working with a consultant, or maybe you have an in-house team that gets your NPS score every year or maybe bi-annually, you look at these and it basically tells you what your level is. And it’s on a scale from -100 to 100, 100 being the best, negative being the worst. Where are you on that scale of how many promoters you have versus detractors? And then there’s the middle ground, which we won’t talk about today. But there’s that score which is really how we’re going to say, That’s great. That has to do with a lot more than just the brand. Think about how the brand and the presence and the way you tell your story in the way that you give people that loyalty. How does that come into play with your Net Promoter Score, and how do we use it on our team to understand where we’re at today? And then maybe if we do it again in a year, how can we see that change in the work that we’re doing?

Derek Production note – we should actually have an upcoming episode where we bring Sprocket in. Let’s have a conversation with them and just talk NPS. Let’s dive into what are good scores for certain industries.

Tucker Absolutely.

Derek Because it’s not a straight line.

Tucker Not at all.

Derek And 40 is very successful in some industries and would be a really poor score in others. And I think it would be fun to really dig into that data and understand.

Tucker And we’ve seen a whole spectrum through the clients we’ve worked with. So if you’re sitting here going, Well, my Net Promoter Score is a 30 out of 100. That’s not terrible considering it’s from -100 to 100. But we’re going to try to keep this quick and short and we’ll bring on Sprocket for sure. That sounds like a great idea.

Derek So for today’s conversation, specifically to brand and specifically even as a bit of an intro to this research study that we’ve done, which is out, which is available on our website, I believe, for free, free download, which will dive into all of this data in much more detail. What we’re trying to do is just really get clear in understanding the dynamics of brand promoters and the brand detractors so that as a business, as a club, as a sports organization, you’re at least aware. I think a lot of people when you say, Wait a minute, there are actual detractors of my brand out there in the world, that could be a little bit alarming. But I think to be aware of that is step one.

Tucker And when you’re doing that, it’s just like anything else. If you’re trying to lose weight and you start measuring how much a pizza actually contributes to your weight gain, you’re like, Oh my God, that’s crazy. The same thing is true with your NPS score. When you start understanding why there are detractors and you start reading into the effects of certain customer service areas, or maybe the way that you’re presenting yourself online, you start to understand what’s happening and it can reassure you into fixing that problem. It’s not that difficult once you just get a lay of the land.

Derek, understanding why your promoters are happy with you and the reasons that your detractors are not first and foremost allows you to respond and do something about it.

Tucker It sounds so simple. But the people who are promoting you figure out why they’re promoting you and keep doing that. And the reasons why people are detracting and why they are not promoting you and telling people negative things about you, understand what they have, what their perspective is, and try to either fix it or understand that they’re coming from a different place. And that’s not good for you. We’ve worked with brands before where they say, We have a Net Promoter Score of 65, which is really good. But our detractors don’t like this aspect of our club. Then we dig into that and discover they’re complaining because they’re not a right fit for us. And that’s actually okay for right now. We just need to make sure that they’re not causing crazy harm when they’re detracting and increase our promoter score by increasing the members who come in who care about the same things as our promoters care about.

Derek When we get information from the people who are surveyed, can the competition end up in that detractor, or are these inside our organization or current inside customers?

Tucker Only inside.

Derek So you don’t have your competition out there trash-talking you and falsely negatively affecting the score.

Tucker So that maybe could differentiate. But who’s doing the data? I don’t one hundred percent know. But for all the stuff that we’ve done, let’s take a private club for example. It’s all of your members internally. What are they saying about you? What are you doing? If we’re doing it for a sporting goods company, it’s your customers, people who have bought from you. What do they care about? What do they not care about? And then you get this level of how likely you are to promote or how likely you are to suggest this brand and the people who are on the low end of that. Very unlikely. Then you take them out and you understand what they do not like. What are they complaining about? What are the areas in which they’re finding a really hard time connecting with what you’re doing? And then you kind of level that with the other side. There are people out there who would tell everybody about your brand. Whether it’s your club, and they’re super proud of it, and they want to tell everybody about it. Or maybe it’s a knee brace and they go, Oh my God, this knee brace is the best knee brace I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’m going to tell people about it. What are those things that they’re so excited about, and how can we keep doing those things versus the people who are talking negatively about you? What do they not like, and why do they not like it? If they’re talking bad about your private club, what are they saying and why are they saying it? And how do we make sure that that’s not relevant anymore? How we help fix that problem is the challenge we’re up against.

Derek I’d be curious how the Net Promoter Score aligns with Google reviews, especially in the retail consumer product good space.

Tucker That might be for someone smarter than me. I wouldn’t be able to tell you that connection because we dabble in data here. We don’t do it actively. We are not a data firm. We have amazing partners that do that with us and help us understand those things. But it’s a great conversation to ask if the Google reviews absolutely come across. I don’t know about you, but I will be more likely to tell someone about a brand that I love rather than write a good Google review about it. Versus someone who is so upset that they’re more likely to write a Google review. I don’t know, though. It would be an interesting conversation.

Derek Either way, we work with some retail brands that follow their Google reviews really closely so that especially if they get a negative one, they make it policy to address that, to reach out to that person. So that’s a little bit different than Net Promoter Scores. People aren’t submitting their complaints and their praises to you. It’s more of a high-level brand understanding of what you’re doing right and what you could be doing better to turn some of those detractors, or all of them, into promoters, and to do more of what you’re already doing right.

Tucker Absolutely. I think that when we use Net Promoter Score, we use it differently than maybe the product team might. Let’s figure out a fake company that we’re talking about here. There’s a product team, there’s a brand team, and there’s an actual execution team that does all that. Maybe there’s a customer service team. Each team is going to use it differently based on what Net Promoter Score they’re looking at. They’re going to say, Okay, here’s the portion that I can affect. So from a brand angle, we’re going to look at it and ask what the perception things are that we can look at. If you think of branding as tailoring the perception of your product or organization, what of that Net Promoter Score is really relevant to them just perceiving the value differently? And is there a way that we can help that perception, whether it’s through visuals, whether it’s through better communication, whether it’s through just a new strategic angle that we can take on our product or our service? And that’s kind of what we start looking at in our discovery phase is to say, What is their Net Promoter Score? Why is it like that, and in what areas is the brand not helping that Net Promoter Score be higher than it currently is? So back to this research that we did with private clubs, it came out that the promoters are way more susceptible to buying into branding. When we talk about how we get people to buy into the story and how we get people to really feel that loyalty, that emotional pull, the promoters were all over it. So when you ask how to give someone the ammunition to go to their friends and say that this is so great, well, your brand is that thing. So if you don’t look the way that you think you should look, or maybe you don’t sound that great, or maybe it just doesn’t compare to the value that you’re creating, your promoters might love your product or your service, but they’re not as willing to say, Oh my God, I’m so proud to be a part of this because of the way that it looks and it looks just like I imagined. I don’t know exactly which one we’re talking about yet. But that brand can help them promote even more. So how do we help the promoters promote us?

Derek Advocating for the promoters and giving them the tools and the ammunition to verbalize what it is that makes them so happy can oftentimes change the detractors into promoters themselves. Actually, it’s part of change management. When we’re rebranding a club, for example, if you can get the initial satisfaction rate around, say, 70%, it’s very likely that the excitement of the 70%, which is not going to drown out the unexcited 30%, but the enthusiasm – we’ve seen this – the enthusiasm of the 70% will oftentimes convert a large percentage of the detractors and either move them into that neutral place or actually turn them into promoters also.

Tucker Where I’m going is when we’re looking at our discovery process to understand how we give promoters the tools is absolutely important. How we take the detractors and say why they are not connecting, what is really not connecting with them, that can really help us tone or kind of change up our strategy to then say, Okay, maybe we’re going too hard this way because not everyone’s connecting with it. And it really depends on how many detractors there are. We did an episode about the loudest voices in the room. No matter what, there’s going to be detractors. It’s just the nature of humans that people aren’t all going to love it. You’re not going to get every single person to love it. So when you say 70%, if you had an NPS score of 70, you’d be two thumbs up. This is great. We’re doing awesome. And I would say that if you’re upset because some people don’t like your brand or they don’t like your service or they don’t like this, that’s probably never going to change. So you have to be okay with saying this isn’t always going to resonate with everybody. We need to make sure that we have the interests of the majority in mind, rather than the minority.

Derek And back to the positioning conversation that we have as a through line in most of these conversations, our brand isn’t for everybody. And some of those detractors might actually be wrong-fit members, wrong-fit customers.

Tucker Wrong-fit fans.

Derek Exactly. And for us to be aware of why they’re unhappy can also help us determine whether or not they are our target market. And if they are, then it tells us what we need to fix. If they’re not, then it helps us reinforce who we are for and what we can be doing.

Tucker So I want to wrap up really quick because I don’t want this to go too far. But if you had one large takeaway from the idea of having a Net Promoter Score, and there are these promoters and detractors, and what do you do with them, what would be your bigger takeaway?

Derek My biggest takeaway would be to understand what the promoters like, lean into the positive, and figure out from a brand standpoint how we can feed them, provide them with the tools, with the ammunition, with the story, so that they’re telling the right story and a consistent story that helps us find and attract more people like them.

Tucker Mine is all about continuous improvement. It’s important to always improve. It’s important to measure it and understand where you’re at and always try to strive to be better. But I don’t want that to be overshadowed by the fact that we just talked about where your brand isn’t for every single person. And so that means just the nature of positioning. Someone’s not going to like what you’re doing. That’s okay. We just need to take that with a grain of salt and still look at the detractors, still look at what they’re saying, because that doesn’t mean that it’s invalid. It just might be something that you look at and say, You know what, that person’s not for us right now.

Derek So for the full report, you can go to Sussner.com. I believe it’s under Freesources. It’s about a 70-page book.

Tucker If you’re a private club or you’re interested in that private club space, we put this research study out a couple of months ago. It’s just a really interesting look at what people care about in the club space. So think about memberships. Think about people who belong somewhere. What does that mean? It’s a little bit different than maybe if you’re a sporting goods company or you’re a professional team, but there’s still a lot in there that’s interesting. So go check it out.

Derek Thank you. Until next time. Sussner is a branding firm specializing in helping companies make a meaningful mark, guiding marketing leaders who are working to make their brand communicate better, stand out, and engage audiences to grow their business. For more on Sussner, visit Sussner.com.

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