“In sales, a referral is the key to the door of resistance”.
In the digital age, brand advocates are your most powerful allies. Peer-to-peer recommendations are valuable advertising tools that can lead to organisation-wide benefits. By leveraging existing fans you can garner customer loyalty, increase brand awareness and promote customer engagement.
Brand advocates are your most loyal consumers. With a genuine passion for your products and services, they are motivated to support and promote your brand through word-of-mouth marketing. As increasing numbers of conversations occur online the global exposure of word-of-mouth marketing offers an unparalled opportunity for brands to showcase themselves worldwide.
How you can identify them
Brand advocates can be web influencers with thousands of social media followers, or highly-regarded industry leaders. Here’s some tips on how to identify them:
- Pay attention to your social media posts; who’s liking and favouriting your posts and sharing or linking to your content? Brand advocates will be conversing with your brand on a regular basis.
- Track the engagement – look at the people behind the numbers. List those that are engaging with your brand and find out more about them.
- Ask sales reps to tell you which customers have favourably reviewed your services.
- Take advantage of social analytics tools –Discover who is engaging the most with your brand across your channels and try to understand how you could better connect with them.
- Send out an email survey – ask how likely customers are to recommend your products and services, then analyse the responses and flag supporters. Amaysim, a large Australian mobile phone company, found that mobile phone reviews generated more generic SEO website traffic than any other type of content. They created the Amaysim Review Project which encouraged hundreds of fans to become official phone reviewers.
Harness their power
- We all like to be recognised and brand advocates are no different. Identify their value then build on the relationship, encouraging your brand advocates to participate. Coca-Cola’s Expedition 206 campaign did just that, employing social media to select 3 individuals to travel the world, visiting 206 markets where Coca-Cola has a presence. Coke recognised that they don’t own the brand, but their customers did. Therefore, who could be a better choice than those consumers to spread the message of happiness.
- Make brand advocates part of your marketing campaign. Your advertising messages to influencers should be appreciative, recognise their loyalty and encourage them to continue talking about you and your products and services. Jared Fogul is one of Subway’s brand ambassadors, attributing his 245-pound weight loss to eating just Subway sandwiches. When he took a break in 2005 Subway saw a 10% drop in sales, revealing his importance to the brand’s success.
Like friendship, brand advocacy has to be earned
Brand advocates will go above and beyond to share their passion for a brand if they feel satisfied and rewarded. Their loyalty can encourage others to follow suit. Having a strong brand advocate/s will bolster your organisation’s credibility and drive potential customers to make a purchase. Scrutinise how your brand is provoking conversations and consider how you can stimulate referrals from brand advocates, to grow your business and increase sales.