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It seems that Jeffrey Hayzlett is keynoting almost every single CMO event these days. Since it was Forbes that anointed Hayzlett the “Celebrity CMO” while he was the marketing chief at Kodak, because of his countless media appearances, we wanted to find out what all the current fuss is about. After questioning a multitude of active CMOs, it appears that they’re most interested in hearing Hayzlett talk about Friendsourcing, a concept that he unveiled in his latest book, “Running the Gauntlet.” We asked the Celebrity CMO to elaborate on this approach that might appear obvious but is building buzz with many brand leaders.

Brandon Gutman: Please explain “Friendsourcing”

Jeffrey Hayzlett: It’s crowdsourcing, but better. What’s the first thing you do when you try a new product or service? You tell your friends about it. Friends listen to friends when it comes to buying products, using services and trying new things. It’s the greatest word-of-mouth advertising you can get, because it’s coming from a trusted source.

Why is it more effective than crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing is going to the crowds, going out to everyone and asking the universe their opinion. It is a shotgun approach to obtaining and spreading information… But it isn’t the most effective marketing approach anymore. Friendsourcing is pulling in information or input from a trusted group of peers who are willing to assist your mission, spread your message and help you grow.

Jeffrey Hayzlett

How can marketers use Friendsourcing to build their brands?

Marketers need to do several things when it comes to using Friendsourcing to build their brands.

1. Find the people.

Find the people you are willing to pay more for to bring you solutions rather than whine about the problems. Miles Nadal, chairman, founder, and CEO of MDC Partners, Inc., says, “These people will ensure your organization is influential and can enable progress rather than avoid it.”

2. Make sure you find them on every level.

Don’t spend so much time on the managers and executives that you forget the frontline people. Every new person has the opportunity to drive change – both positive and negative. Don’t just look for managers and executives.

3. Make sure they have what is needed for the situations they will face.

Sarah Fay, an independent board advisor in the emerging media space and the former CEO of Aegis Media North America, said, “We needed to have a culture of change—people who could deal with a shifting landscape; people who could deal with ambiguity.”

4. Train them.

Jeff Cleary, owner and managing director of Catalyst told me: “When restructuring the entire agency from the ground up, we missed the cultural challenges of change. We woefully overestimated our organization’s ability to adapt to change.” Stay personally involved and provide more hands-on training.

5. Actively manage them.

Take on the crucial task of managing investments of human capital—namely, talent—to build the strengths and capabilities of your people.

6. Retain them.

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations, says, “Realize just how hard it is to retain really good, strong people. Growing (and retaining) my nearly 100 employees is more important than any individual action I can take.“

What is your most powerful advice for executives looking to optimize their personal network?

Know your personal brand and how you want others to perceive you; how do you want to be remembered? Use the tools that are available to you and use them well. Then look for innovative ways to extend your network. Are you following up with people you meet at networking events by connecting on LinkedIn and Twitter? How can you use technology to your advantage? Put a SnapTag on the reverse of your business card that directs your new connection to a recorded personal greeting from you. Send a handwritten thank-you card in the mail – yes, remember the post? – to let people know you value their time. Little things go a long way, especially when done effectively.

Follow Brandon on Twitter at http://twitter.com/brandongutman

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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