Lauren McCadney, CDW's Passionate Marketer

Lauren McCadney is all about passion. Smart, articulate, and always striving to make a difference, McCadney is the social media guru at CDW, a $9.2 billion provider of technology solutions for businesses, government, education and healthcare based in Vernon Hills, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.

McCadney is an accomplished, visionary marketer who joined CDW in 2005 after a lengthy career at telecoms company SBC (which later became AT&T after it acquired AT&T.) The Enterprise Council of Small Business, a division of the Corporate Executive Board, recently named McCadney the 2010 “Small Business Marketer of the Year.”

McCadney is passionate about photography and considers it her gift. She specializes in portraits and events. “I’ve always wanted to tell stories and I also LOVED pictures,” says McCadney. “After much soul searching I realized that photography is my means of expression,” she says.

McCadney is also passionate about kids. “I believe that every child deserves a chance. Unfortunately, not every child receives one. Therefore, you’ll find me doing what I can to make a difference whether it’s sitting on a board, throwing a fundraiser, or volunteering my time,” says, this graduate of Howard University and the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University who lives in Chicago.

And McCadney is also passionate about customer relationships, social media, and brand advocacy. She’s championing and driving CDW’s Brand Advocate program, which in only a few months is quickly approaching nearly 1,000 CDW Advocates.

Energizing Passionate Customers

Unlike other companies, McCadney and CDW didn’t have a compelling marketing problem like negative Word of Mouth they were hoping to solve by leveraging Brand Advocates. Instead, with the skilled eye of a talented photographer, McCadney saw an opportunity that others hadn’t recognized yet: turn CDW’s enthusiastic customers into a powerful marketing force. “Research shows that three out of four people no longer trust what advertisers say. But nine out of ten are going to trust what a peer says,” points out McCadney.

McCadney knew CDW had passionate customers she could leverage. From her early work in social media she saw them support, promote, and defend CDW on Spiceworks, an online community for small business IT professionals. “I realized there were people who were passionate about CDW to the extent that if an issue came up about CDW, they would rush to my (CDW’s) defense. They could actually get in there and kind of diffuse things before I could get to it. So my thinking was already, “How do I start to identify these folks on a larger scale?”

And she knew CDW had a large number of customers willing to recommend the company. But until recently, CDW wasn’t leveraging these enthusiastic customers.

“We would look at the (customer loyalty) report and collectively say, “Look, our number went up again. This is great.” But we weren’t doing anything with this group that was rating us a 9 or 10 when asked “How likely are you to recommend CDW”. Ultimately, I asked myself ‘Why aren’t we asking them (Advocates) to do something? Why aren’t we doing something to recognize them, thank them, ask them to act on our behalf. I think they would.’ “

She was right.

Working with Zuberance, McCadney has begun systematically identifying and energizing CDW Advocates. McCadney and CDW started energizing its Advocates by inviting them to rate and review their CDW experience. Within just a few months, CDW Advocates have created nearly 700 positive reviews, a valuable content asset that CDW is publishing on its website plus in its catalog and email marketing campaigns. “They (CDW Advocates) tell the CDW story better than any copywriter could because they are relating our story from a personal perspective. They know what’s important to IT Professionals and do an amazing job of clearly explaining why you should shop at CDW or the value that we bring,” says McCadney.

Beyond Ratings & Reviews

McCadney is taking CDW’s Advocate program beyond ratings and reviews. “Reviews are just the most tangible manifestation that this individual is an Advocate of our brand,” she says. So CDW is looking to implement user generated content in the form of Success Stories and they’re exploring Customers Building Customers. “For me, I view energizing our Advocates as an entirely new and relevant way of marketing. And that’s something I’m very passionate about,” says McCadney.

Three Key Tips

Here are the three key lessons from the CDW case study:

1. Go beyond Net Promoter. Asking customers how likely they are to recommend your brand or product and measuring your Net Promoter Score is important. Get more value from Net Promoter by making it easy for Promoters to actually recommend you.

2. Give Advocates multiple advocacy tools. Advocate are willing and eager to recommend you in lots of different ways. Go beyond Advocate ratings and reviews. Give your Advocates ways to create and share or publish testimonials, offers, plus answer prospects’ questions, and more.

3. Evangelize evangelism. Energizing Brand Advocates represents a different marketing approach for many marketing organizations. Be prepared to champion the cause of advocacy including educating your colleagues about the benefits of leveraging Brand Advocates continually.