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Tom Stockham, chief executive officer of SwarmBuilder Inc., believes so much in the power of word of mouth to fuel sales that he’s built an entire business around it.
This story first appeared in the October 19, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“The reality is we all wish we could work with experts to be confident about a purchase,” said Stockham, whose five-year-old company is designed to connect brands, retailers, consumers and industry-specific product experts for increased sales and customer service. “In turn, brands sell more, improve skills and product knowledge, manage product seeding and gather feedback,” said Stockham, who formerly served as ceo of Ancestry.com and president of Ticketmaster.com.
Citing results of a recent McKinsey & Co. report, Stockham said that 93 percent of people admit a recommendation is the most reliable source when making a purchase.
“At the heart of it is the expert, to drive brand-passionate sales,” said Stockholm, whose said his site works with over 300 brands and more than 700,000 brand advocates.
Stockham said utilizing brand advocates creates a symbiotic relationship wherein brands broaden the scope of their portfolios and consumers purchase with more confidence, in turn, increasing sales and customer loyalty for retailers. According to Stockham, gathering feedback and measurable results is also a critical part of the service his company provides.
Stockham discussed a recent partnership with Dillard’s and shoe company Rockport in which SwarmBuilder was charged with creating a “Rockport expert” in the footwear department of all Dillard’s locations.
“We built an online platform, which was available to all 4,000 points of distribution,” said Stockham about the contest-driven program which provided consumers with an in-store interactive Web page at the point of sale.