A brand advocate is somebody who loves your product or service. In fact, they love it so much that they spread the word to all their friends, family, neighbours and anyone else who will listen. They might tell people through word-of-mouth, via social media or by writing reviews online. Perhaps they’ll blog about you to their own followers. However they spread the word, for you as a business, brand advocate are the ultimate in PR gold.
Is brand advocacy for everyone?
It might sound a bit like something only big brands and companies with deep pockets can afford to do, but companies of any size and with any budget can promote and encourage brand advocacy. All it takes is a great product or service, a bit of dedication and a few ideas.
For any recipe, there are of course a few ingredients you will need before you get started. For brand advocacy to be successful and survive in the long-term, you will need:
- A fabulous product or service
- Exceptional customer service and attention to detail
- Policies and procedures for when things go wrong
- Some happy customers
- A great website design
- Social media channels set up and operational
- A positive mindset
- Genuine passion about what you do
Some of those might sound cliché but without them, brand advocacy simply can’t work.
Used with a bit of flair, there are a multitude of ways in which you can combine the above ingredients to really engage your regular customers and encourage them to talk positively and publicly about your brand. Here are a few ideas:
Because everything is so digitally driven these days, receiving things through the post is becoming rarer (and hence cheaper to source). This means that people are actually becoming more likely to notice and open what they might previously have referred to as ‘junk mail’ and put straight into the recycling bin. This gives you a great opportunity.
The trick here is to make sure that what you send out is well designed, grabs their attention, arouses their curiosity and meets a genuine need.
The same thing goes with packaging. When a customer purchases a physical product from you, making the delivery itself that little bit different might be all it takes to get them talking. Perhaps the packaging is made from unusual materials, you’ve slipped a few small chocolates in the parcel or a little handwritten thank you card. Perhaps it’s delivered from a shop around the corner on an old-fashioned bicycle.
Anything that adds a personal touch can make all the difference.
Email marketing has been around for a long time but done correctly, it is very effective and shows no sign of slowing in popularity as a marketing strategy. As long as you have done your research thoroughly and know your customers well, you can make the most of this by sending well-timed emails, offers and invitations.
Always be sure to have an easy way for your recipients to share via social media.
Website or blog features
One way of involving customers more directly is by featuring them on your website or blog. You might choose to have a ‘customer of the month’ or perhaps carry out interviews or quizzes with your clients.
Any way that involves people on a more personal, one-to-one basis is good for brand advocacy.
Sending your best customers presents might seem akin to bribery, but it can certainly create a talking point. Depending on your business, this might be a great tactic for kicking off a particular product range or a new service.
Be sure to make a big deal of it on your social media channels so that it doesn’t go unnoticed.
Special offers and discounts
Special offers and discounts can also be given to customers for loyal service or even as part of a referral scheme where they receive monetary rewards or other offers in return for recommendations. This isn’t true brand advocacy, but can essentially serve the same purpose.
Bear in mind that like some other methods of brand advocacy, it’s not free.
Live social events
Inviting your customers along to special open evenings, launch parties or exclusive events can really make your brand come alive and definitely get conversations started.
Plan meticulously and again, make sure there’s lots of social media coverage. Have plenty of pictures and videos taken to upload to all your social channels so that new customers (once they’ve heard your brand advocates talking about what fun they had) will be eagerly awaiting the next event too.
Competitions and social media contests
Social media platforms give even the smallest companies equal opportunity to shine. Whether you run a Facebook contest or host a live Twitter chat, this is definitely an area where you can compete with the “big boys”.
The trick is to think outside of the box. What do you customers like? What do they find funny, entertaining, interesting? If you can give them what they want, through the social media channel they use most, it’s a very simple step for them to “share”, ‘like’ ‘comment’ or ‘follow’.
Your job is to keep on top of the campaign and respond with your own comments too. The conversation needs to be two-way and if you don’t participate, you run the risk of it going off the boil.
Finally, a word about keeping things cohesive. For brand advocacy to really work well, you need to employ a range of strategies. Your customers need to be able to recognise your brand identity, image and personality at the heart of all the individual facets, and they need to be able to trust that you’re not going anywhere.
Remember that the thing they love about your company is what it stands for – the values, ethos and message. Make sure that everything from your website to your mailshots to your tweets are consistent, telling the same story in your own unique way.