Awhile back, I was pitching the Zuberance story to one of Silicon Valley's top venture capitalists. This guy's company has bankrolled some of the best-known, most successful start-ups. He's on a first-name basis with Mark, Sergey, and Larry.
But he wasn't buying my story. No matter how much third-party data I showed him, he just couldn't imagine that companies could get their customers—even their Brand Advocates—to recommend their brands or products without giving them cash, freebies, or discounts.
Finally, I asked him this question:
“The last time you went out for dinner and had a fabulous experience, did you tell a colleague or friend about it?”
“Ummm,” he said, scratching the stubble on his chin and squinting his eyes. “Yeah, I did,” he said grudgingly.
“And did the restaurant pay you or give you a free meal for your recommendation?” I asked.
“No,” he said, somewhat indignantly. (No one can buy his advocacy. Money can't buy VC's love, right?)
He went on: “I recommended the restaurant because I really enjoyed it and wanted my friends to enjoy it also.”
Game, set, match!
(By the way, I refused the temptation to point out to the VC that our meeting was a result of an unpaid word of mouth referral.)
Millions of people recommend restaurants, movies, books, hotels, cars, computers, software, smartphones, doctors, dentists, accountants, and yes, even venture capital firms, plus thousands of other companies, products, ...