When Nokia launched its Lumia series in 2011 it gifted what was understood to be tens of thousands of free handsets to developers, bloggers, retail staff and “cultural influencers” as it looked to boost awareness of the new ecosystem.
The company has now analysed its training and advocacy programme and going forward will offer free handsets to fewer people.
Nokia is selecting 150 “champions” from retail staff at stores such as O2, Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U who will join an advocacy programme designed to encourage their use of Lumia for the long-term, rather than a gift they use for a short period of time.
As well as handsets, those champions will also receive regular newsletter content and be invited to special events as Nokia looks to generate more advocacy towards its devices over rivals such as Apple and Samsung and promote better customer service around Windows Phone.
Emma Gilmartin, Nokia head of portfolio and customer marketing for UK and Ireland, says offering handsets to staff is still important to encourage people to champion its devices, but it is now managing that group of people “very tightly”.
She adds: “It’s all about starting small to generate the right behaviour to promote long-term use and benefit the customer experience. Once we get it right we can scale up.”
Meanwhile, Nokia has also embarked on what it says is a “first of its kind” collaborative marketing campaign with Vodafone and Microsoft. Usually joint campaigns in the mobile industry are only between two parties.
The campaign sees Vodafone “heroing” the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 to promote its “4G ready” status ahead of its launch of the faster internet service later this year. It appears in-store, outdoor, in print. Vodafone’s customer magazine and through training and internal events.
Gilmartin says Nokia will look to repeat this approach again in the second quarter with other operators and retailers to ensure the maximum reach for their campaigns and to prevent any clashes, such as two separate ads appearing in the same commercial break or newspaper.
Nokia sold 4.4 million Lumia devices globally in the fourth quarter, up from 2.9 million in the previous quarter, helping the company return to profit for the first time in almost two years. By comparison, Apple reported it sold almost 48 million iPhones and Samsung was estimated by research firm Strategy Analytics to have sold 63 million smartphones in the last three months of the year.
UK smartphone maker market share
Source: comScore December 2012
Nokia won’t be alone in making new device announcements in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress this month so it is vital it gets retail staff and partners on board behind the Windows Phone ecosystem if it is to stand out against competitors at this busy time.
Nokia has realised to create true brand advocacy it must offer partners added value beyond a free handset or a couple of egg sandwiches during a training session.
By minimising the amount of people it selects to champion its products, Nokia is likely to strengthen the bonds between the brand and those select sales staff who also have a number of other companies looking to catch their eye with their own tempting offers.