Zoe Sear is the Head of Marketing & Communications for Triodos Bank, originally a Dutch bank focusing on sustainable banking with conscious thought.

But she hasn’t always been involved in values-based banking – Zoe’s career started in PR agencies and she has very much followed her heart, going “where [she] had energy.”

Her non-linear journey has brought her the helm of a brand that supports environmental action and sustainability, relying primarily on word-of-mouth marketing to grow their customer base.

It’s by developing this organic advocacy that Zoe has come across her Shiny New Object – disrupting the market without big budgets.

Essentially, while there is a general belief that raising awareness for your brand needs to cost a lot, Zoe believes that a brand can make a significant impact without spending a huge budget. The first step towards doing this is to clearly define objectives and a mission – “starting with the why”, as per Simon Sinek’s book.

People are increasingly desensitised by very slick, flashy expense” in marketing, Zoe thinks.

Being authentic and speaking from a place where, as a brand, you define how your product or service can benefit people, can make a bigger impact. This is because people are beginning to value brands that align with their values and organisations that have a genuine story to tell.

How can brands harness this low-budget approach to marketing? “People trust people” and organic advocacy is key to this strategy.

Zoe shared with me how she developed an awareness-raising campaign with Triodos’ current customers, incentivising them to recommend new clients by offering a £25 donation to one of three charities for every referral.

In turn, new customers receive a £60 voucher to use either with Neal’s Yard Remedies or Ethical Superstore. This is channelling customers’ goodwill and testing the hypothesis that Triodos’ customers are energised to refer others if someone else can benefit from that action.

For more on how Zoe has used data and insight to create organic advocacy, her best investments in self-development and her advice on how to become newsworthy, check out the podcast in full here

Subscribe to the ‘Shiny New Object’ Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube and Soundcloud.