Build a Global Brand Advocate Movement: Insights from Martin Bjergegaard

Over the past few months, we have been doing more research into collaborations and how to make them work effectively. Some of our findings led us to Martin Bjergegaard, or did Google lead them to us. Anyway, that’s just detail. Martin Bjergegaard is  a serial entrepreneur, co-author of Winning Without Losing and the co-founder of various successful global companies.

He co-founded Rainmaking which is a company factory and a startup accelerator known as Startup Bootcamp. One of the key similarities among the companies, as well as Winning Without Losing, is that behind all these initiative are movements of people who spread the causes. He and his co-founders find a message that people care about, create a movement and let that movement with the core team leading from behind.

I was interested in how he builds these brands and whether he finds people who care about the causes and initiatives first, then they proceed to build.

WordStart: When you co-founded Rainmaking and later Startup Bootcamp – which now has 500+ mentors and investors – did you start out wanting to get people to spread the initiatives by themselves? Or did the spread occur without you planning it that way?

Martin B: I think that spread happens when you find something people truly care about. And when your format is inclusive, meaning that you basically allow everyone to take part in some way. Of our projects, the three that receive the most global attention are; Startup Bootcamp, Winning Without Losing and our latest initiative, the Rainmaking Loft – which is a big co-working hub in London. People like these projects, I believe, because they can take part in the movement. Some of our other businesses are more traditional, in the sense that we sell a product and charge a price. These can become very profitable, but less of a worldwide movement. We like to have both kinds of projects and to let them benefit from each other.

WordStart: When people connect with and end up being advocates for your cause, do you know and understand why they do it? How do you leverage that to get more people to spread the word for you?

Martin B: Basically, we just try to be helpful. People can have many different interests or angles when they get in touch. I just try to figure out how to help them best through a connection, advice or an idea. I think it is very simple; if you deliver value to others they will want to help you too. They will spread the message you evangelize and thus become part of the movement. If you don’t help or inspire the people who connect with you, they will look somewhere else.

WordStart: What are some of the most effective tools you use to collaborate across borders? How and why these tools?

Martin B: Mostly Skype, Dropbox, Google Docs and Podio.

Podio is a Danish startup that has moved on to become a huge success story and a global brand. On Podio, you can have a virtual office and collaborate really efficiently – even if your team is spread out all over the world.

We also use Asana and HipChat . We also use Doodle, Yammer and WordPress. Simplicity, efficiency and user-friendliness are the key criteria when we choose in the tools we use.

WordStart: How do you test the effectiveness of your message? What do you do when and if it doesn’t appeal to people after you’ve started marketing that message or product?

Martin B: We had our fair share of absolute failures. Only we don’t see it is failures, rather just as learning and feedback experiences.

The key is, as you say, to test. We test everything. That includes a new feature, a new team member, a new marketing message and a new partnership. It is almost always possible to take small steps, test the waters, and then go full speed ahead – only when you know that what you are doing resonates with the market. Big companies often carefully plan a campaign, carry it out at full steam and lose millions. As a startup you need to work smarter, leaner and more flexible than that.

Martin Bjergegaard will be in South Africa launching his book Winning Without Losing in Johannesburg – on 9 July and in Cape Town on – on 12 July. We have collaborated with them to kickstart their South African movement. Would you like to join us and win these shiny new books?

Apart from considering ourselves as a bit of a startup, we love starting things (hence our name) and we love startups. Yes, we love startups. There you have it, that four-letter ‘L’word.

As a startup working towards making an impact in your industry and the world, you want to read and know as much as possible. We’ve got your back. We have some copies of Winning Without Losing to give away.

Share your thoughts on Twitter about what it means to collaborate effectively, or to build what you love in business and life without losing either one. Make it less than a 100 characters, add @WordStarters and #wwl_jhb. We’ll let you know if you’ve won on Monday. If you are joining us at Jozi Hub, you get bonus points with a signed copy of your shiny new book and awesome pictures taken by Vimage Media.