25 April 2019
It’s the Encomium, Stupid
As a pun on a memorable phrase from Bill Clinton’s winning 1992 presidential campaign, an encomium is what we all crave from our customers. Originating from the ancient Greek word enkōmion: hymn to a victor, today it conveys glowing and warmly enthusiastic praise.
Sales and advertising people have always used encomia of one kind or another as key levers in their toolkits, but it wasn’t until the early-1990s that the idea entered the marketing mainstream. It’s stayed there ever since.
In fact, the then-young founders of GoRefCo were the first to use the encomium sparkle at the Telecom ‘91 Expo show in Geneva. Building the entire BT booth around live environments showing happy customers using the company’s products and services – there, on-stand – other exhibitors stood open-mouthed. “Why didn’t we think of that?” they asked their people as they looked back at the church bazaars that went for their own booth designs. They returned from whence they came, determined to plagiarise the idea.
If that’s not enough, executive visitors to the BT booth were treated to business-led workshops supported by two-minute VHS videos. Printed case studies flew off the stand. Copies of the BT ‘Business Agenda for the 90s’ booklet ran out, despite a 10,000-unit print run.
Of course, that’s now all long-ago and faraway but, in the mid-90s, GoRefCo built a customer reference programme production company around the idea. Many copycat competitors have since emerged. These days they probably don’t even know where the idea had its genesis, but we take their presence as a resounding compliment.
GoRefCo is still doing that same thing enormously successfully for companies right around the world. The most significant difference is in the transformative digital media we’re able to leverage today; light-years beyond the limited range open to us in 1991.
So, when you’re asked how you closed your last major sale or, indeed, why your company just keeps on beating its competitors, it’s only fair to take a leaf from Bill Clinton’s victorious campaign and say: “It’s the encomium, stupid.”