A Blueprint for Building Brand Advocates
What if you could add reps to your organization who would spread the good word about your brand and solutions?
And what if they weren’t employees – and did it all for free?
Called brand advocates, fans like these are extremely valuable to B2B and B2C organizations. According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report, 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from others – even people they don’t know – over businesses.
What Exactly is a Brand Advocate?
Let’s be clear: a brand advocate isn’t someone who’s paid to promote your business. These fans love using your products and services and organically spread the word to their colleagues, friends and family. As an example, think about your colleague who always raves about his favorite restaurant and their delicious homemade desserts.
Brand advocacy is similar to word-of-mouth. But thanks to digital and social media, brand advocates have the potential to reach a far larger audience.
Because of their inherent trust and authenticity, brand advocates can be extremely valuable for your business. Here is a blueprint to start identifying, building and nurturing a larger base of fans.
Identify Brand Advocates
Get started by identifying potential brand advocates. Remember not every customer will be a brand advocate. Even if they make repeat purchases or are a long-time customer, that doesn’t mean someone is a brand advocate.
Brand advocates are those customers who have a connection with your brand and your organization. Start your search by looking at your organization’s social channels. Are there people who regularly like, comment or share your posts? Those are warmer contacts worth considering further cultivation.
You can also identify brand advocates through surveys. If you ask a question like, “On a scale from 1-10, how likely are you to recommend us?” those who answer a 9 or 10 are potential brand advocates. If you don’t currently use surveys, this is a simple tactic to add to your post-sale process.
And don’t forget to ask your sales team for recommendations. Most likely they know a handful of customers who are big fans. These customers will be the ones frequently sharing feedback or offering new ideas.
Get to Know Your Advocates
Once you’ve identified potential brand advocates, spend time getting to know them. And by getting to know them, I don’t mean just memorizing their names and titles.
- Look at their social feeds to see their interests and likes.
- Give them a direct contact in the organization for sharing their feedback or suggestions.
- Offer to meet up with them at industry or networking events.
- Keep in ongoing touch with them to build the relationship.
Make use of all that information you collect. If a brand advocate shares a new idea or offers feedback, if it makes sense to your organization, use it! And close the loop by thanking them for taking the time to share and show you’ve listened to what they had to say.
Deliver Surprise and Delight
Whether you’re fostering relationships with existing brand advocates or focused on building more advocates, little unexpected surprises can go a long way.
Send a note, or better yet, make a personal phone call to wish “Happy Birthday” to your brand advocates. Give them a sneak preview of your new product release. Invite them to a special “VIP” only event.
The surprises can be small or large. The point is, making someone feel special and that they’re cared about builds advocacy.
Offer Referrals or Other Incentives
If you’re a member of any loyalty program, you’re familiar with the power of reward points, incentives and referral bonuses as incentives to spread the word.
Tell brand advocates you’ll offer them a discount or other special incentive if they refer a colleague and that contact becomes a customer.
Or if they’ve been a long-time customer, send them a small gift on the anniversary date that they became a customer. Not only will they appreciate the gift, they’ll be completely surprised. And more often than not, they’re likely to talk about the gift and surprise to their network – inadvertently helping you build brand goodwill.
Tell Your Team
Your entire organization – from senior management to customer service and support and everyone in between – needs to know about your plans to build brand advocates. They all played a part in delivering a superior customer experience that contributed to the advocate loving your brand in the first place so it makes sense that they continue to foster that relationship.
Building brand advocates is a smart way to build your business. Rob Fuggetta, author of “Brand Advocates – Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force,” estimates a brand advocate is worth at least 5 times more than an average customer.
How have you used the power of brand advocates to build your business? Share with us in the comments below.