The power of generosity in marketing

Ammar Issa

  • AMR Hair and Beauty founder, CEO and managing director
At 11 years old, Ammar was already working in the beauty industry, packing boxes out the back of a local shop. He took to reselling products at school, and, after realising he would have to build his own brand to make a name for himself, Issa started his own company at 14 — although he couldn’t register the business name until he turned 16. AMR Hair & Beauty was initially a B2B marketplace for salon professionals. In 2010, Ammar made his offering open to consumers. AMR is now one of Australia’s largest hair and beauty product suppliers, aiming to make salon-quality products accessible, affordable, and convenient for everyone.

Over the past 10 years, gifting has grown to be a popular social media and influencer marketing strategy. Brands will enter contra agreements with influential social media personalities, send samples to celebrities and sports stars and generously invite people with engaged followings to press trips and luxurious events.  

Gifting can be a great strategy to recruit influential brand advocates and engage with their followers, but it has become more challenging to get cut through as the influencer market has matured. Today, influencers are likely to charge a considerable amount of money to post about a freebie they have received. While gifting can still be a great way to engage with mid-tier or micro influencers, a real strategy of generosity entails much more than social media gifting.  

Building a culture of generosity

From suppliers to employees, and even the garbage men - anyone can be an advocate for your brand. While the marketing team needs to set goals and guidelines around gifting, including the who, why, when and what, it is key to build a culture of generosity throughout the business. Anyone who represents the brand needs to know exactly what they can, and should, give to anyone they interact with on behalf of the business. Whether that is free samples, a helping hand or something else, chances are it will not be forgotten and the recipient will spread the word about the business to friends, family and colleagues.  

Like any cultural initiatives, senior leaders and stakeholders need to set an example and inspire employees to follow suit. Random acts of kindness and support within the business will work as a catalyst for others to pass it forward. As the founder of AMR Hair & Beauty, I try to practice our policy of kindness and generosity every day. I have even stepped in to support team members with rent money or helped pay for a new car when they have been doing it tough. I often tell my team they represent me, and I always expect them to go the extra mile for others. In the long run, kindness will always pay off.  

The balance between authenticity and ROI in generosity

It’s a well-known fact authenticity is important for young consumers, with 90 per cent of consumers taking it into consideration when deciding which brands they like and support. The generation of digital natives can spot a non-genuine generosity strategy from a mile away, and it will take a lot of time and effort to rebuild their trust. Therefore, making sure to build a true culture of generosity that engages all parts of the business, instead of just chasing social media mentions by the big profiles, will be key to building a loyal fanbase of consumers.  

While influencers often get spoiled with gifts, experiences and freebies, treating your own customers to a VIP experience will not go unnoticed. Every year, AMR Hair & Beauty earmarks $500,000 for gifting to hair stylists and beauticians, but the team always goes over budget. From the very start, this clientele has been AMR’s bread and butter, and they are some of the most important advocates for the brand.  

While it’s difficult to measure the success of the program, without having Instagram reach and engagement rates to show for it, it’s worth every penny. We often hear how customers have recommended our services to a colleague, friend or customer, which is fantastic proof that what we are doing is working.  

Targeting your act of kindness  

Before embarking on a journey of generosity, make sure to ask yourself who you should be targeting. Every year we spend $20,000 at Krispy Kreme for our suppliers, but we always make sure not to send the treats directly to the business owners. Instead, we target the staff that do all the hard work in the warehouse or on the ground. They are much more likely to appreciate and spread the word about your brand.  

In conclusion, if used right, generosity can be an invaluable part of the marketing strategy. It can help you achieve both short term gains from shares on social media, and long-term brand loyalty and word of mouth. Expanding on the standard influencer gifting model and encouraging all parts of the business to practice generosity towards the brand’s audiences is not just a nice to have, it’s key to winning over young consumers.

Tags: influencer marketing, brand strategy, social media marketing, customer advocacy, brand purpose

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