The article by Kyle Wong provides a great analysis of how the fitness vertical is successfully growing so quickly. A lot of their approach comes back to the Google Hero, Hub, Hygiene model (more information here).
The key to success has been to make each of their users and employees brand advocates. I know from personal experience that I have particular friends who I seek advice from when it comes to new fitness technology!
Equally I have friends and acquaintances who I ask for business related advice such as a CRM or marketing events to attend. Even if my initial search starts on Google it is quickly followed by a call to a trusted source.
Does this sound familiar?
Beyond our personal litmus test research from experts at Ogilvy, Google, Nielsen, LinkedIn (to name a few) all point towards to the same conclusion. Word of Mouth Marketing and Expert-to-Expert Marketing is key to success.
I am not convinced that this is a new trend however the increasingly connected world, social acceptance to 'whatsapp' your business connections and masses of content (4bn+ web pages) our need for a trusted, human expert opinion appears to be greater than ever.
This Expert-to-Expert marketing communication is becoming a race. We cannot keep up to date with all our contacts and what their specific expertise is therefore helping your employees sign post expertise is going to be a differentiation.
A simple test to prove value to yourself might just be to start sharing your expert opinion online. The chances of someone asking for advice or simply engaging will increase.
On a micro level this is terrific for the individual, on a macro level you suddenly have an entire firm generating potential new business, brand awareness and importantly reach. If anything it will let people know you exist. One caveat though, adding expert opinion is vital not just sharing - Edelman and LinkedIn make this point here.
The larger your organisation with more product offerings, the greater opportunity to capitalise on internal recommendations (big four accountancy also providing services on consultancy etc).
In summary, by enabling and making your employees aware of the value from making recommendations to their contacts and keeping the process easy to do will significantly grow your business just as it has in the fitness vertical.
While the fitness vertical may be unique in the way community members support and encourage each other, this type of word of mouth marketing is an incredibly powerful tool for any brand looking to scale their audience.