Brand Advocacy is one of the biggest focuses for Drinks Brands. But most brands do it wrong. They use it as a short-term tactic instead of strategically.
They focus on hierarchy and forget about the network.
I was recently re-reading one of my favorite books by Niall Ferguson: The Square and the Tower. He mentions:
"Networks have always been with us. Throughout history, hierarchies housed in high towers have claimed to rule, but often real power has resided in the networks in the town square below. For it is networks that tend to innovate. And it is through networks that revolutionary ideas can contagiously spread." (from Niall Ferguson website)
It clarified a thought that I've had in my head but couldn't articulate: most brands nowadays approach the whole galaxy of advocacy and word of mouth in the wrong way. They focus on the Tower and less on the Square. They give crumbs to the square just to tick the box with the tower.
I am referring to Owners and Staff and not only to On-trade but to the Bottom-up trade. (Article below):
There is a tendency to focus on the decision-maker, aka the owner or manager (the Tower), and to completely dismiss doing something people that are lower in the chain "the Square". In reality, it's in the Square that the magic happens.
The same thing happens in a bar, where the bartender is often seen as being more important than a waiter while actually it isn't true.
Firstly, staff may rotate. In the best bars, waiters are bartenders and vice versa. It just depends on the night shift.
Secondly, regarding influence, a venue may have 10 seats at the bar and 40 at the tables. Guess who's gonna influence more the choice of what people order. Most of the clients are never even gonna see, let alone speak to a bartender that night.
To simplify, I have listed my 4 top reasons why you should rethink your strategy.
1.They often work in more than one venue
Often people may have 2 jobs for any reason.
- A bottle shop clerk may also work in a bar
- Wait Staff may also be bartenders
- They may do guest shifts or private events (e.g. parties or weddings)
They may be able to influence more colleagues or people rather than other colleagues from one single venue.
2.They may be humbler and more willing to listen
People in lower roles are often humbler and hungrier for knowledge. Not always, true but they may be the ones more likely to show up to your training. They may also be those who will ask you more questions, learn more, and give you more food for thought and a different perspective.