Reputation Leverage Using Widgets

The use of widgets as a marketing tool has been around for many years. Widgets deliver value for the provider, the publisher, the end-user and in some models, even more levels, so marketers have used this value chain for brand leverage. These widgets have tended to be of limited business value; little more than gimmicks as a vehicle for the brand. But what if widgets could deliver more than just weather predictions, a world clock or news feeds that can easily be found elsewhere?

Widgets can be very powerful for the simple reason that they have the potential to reach a very large audience. Say 15,000 Facebook users have embedded the widgets sponsored by Brand A. Brand A captures a year-round exposure to 1.5 million people assuming that each FB user has a network of 100 friends. This marketing leverage becomes exponential as a certain percentage of each FB user’s friends will also embed the widget.

Reputation Leverage

Political economists Klein and Leffler in their Reputation Model observed that reputable brands can charge a premium based on the strength of their reputation but lost reputation due to poor quality erodes long-term profit streams. Additionally, reputation can extend into other products via umbrella branding notes Eric Rasmusen, business professor at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. Basically, a good reputation has value and this reputation can be extended.

B2B Reputation Leverage (RL) Widgets

Systems integrators and software developers typically mention that they are IBM, Microsoft or Cisco “Business Partners”. They place the logos or trademarks of these IT giants along with their online content. This way, they can charge a premium or close a deal more easily versus competitors that are non-business partners.

On the other hand, a potential client has no readily available way to validate if such claims are true. With a reputation leverage widget however, such claims can be verified. A Microsoft partner logo for instance, can invite the user to “Click to Verify Business Partner Certification”. When clicked, the widget directs the prospect to a new window where a widget clearing house has the Extended Validation SSL Green Address Bar potentially avoiding phishing scams. As another layer of trust assurance, the clearing house can periodically check Microsoft’s partner database to ensure the certified business partner is a member in good standing.

Another useful application is for professional certifications such as the Microsoft Professional or Cisco series. RL widgets can serve as the online certificate of any professional that can be verified, validated, authenticated and checked. MBAs, professional association membership, PADI licenses; just about any certification that might be useful to have on display.

The distribution of RL widgets need to be controlled, monitored, well-managed and exclusive. If good reputations create value then so does scarcity. Therefore while brand leverage widgets need to have a viral quality, reputation leverage widgets are earned like trust, skill and status.