By Michael Gullan, Co-founder and Managing Director of G&G Digital
As marketing communications becomes even more competitive, it’s more difficult for brands to stand out. Many smart brand professionals are incorporating strategic advocacy programmes into their plans. Advocacy is the process of transforming customers and internal stakeholders into brand advocates.
What is a brand advocate?
Brand advocates should not be confused with influencers. They are individuals who,
- Elevate your brand through word of mouth and recommendations
- Give positive reviews about your brand
- Refer new customers.
While on the surface, this may seem to align closely with influencer marketing, it differs vastly in that brand advocates aren’t compensated for recommending your brand. Instead, they do so based on information, experience, loyalty and a strong belief that your product or service offering is positively life-changing.
Five groups of people who make effective brand advocates
Ideally, anyone that supports your brand and your business’s growth can become a brand advocate. However, for best results, these are the five people to focus on for your next advocacy campaign,
- Customers or end-users
- Your customer’s customers
- Branches and franchises
- Business and brand partners
The strongest brand advocates aren’t affiliated with your brand. Instead, their support is genuine and deeply influential. 92% of customers seek recommendations from friends, family, colleagues and other customers before trying a product.
A typical example of the B2B2C route to market, where fellow professionals such as doctors, pharmacists, dentists, brokers and sales teams recommend your brand to customers. These advocates may not be affiliated with your brand but based on their position of authority, they are powerful brand advocates who can influence end-users.
They are familiar with your brand’s culture and everything there is to know about your offering. They can be influential based on inside knowledge, making them ideal brand advocates. It’s important to nurture your internal advocates with ongoing internal advocacy campaigns.
Due to their deep-rooted knowledge of your brand and the culture behind your products or services, branches and franchises affect purchasing decisions based on being part of the bigger network. Again, a strong advocacy programme will ensure your business is getting the best out of these potential advocates.
Comprised of charity organisations and other companies affiliated with your brand, these brand advocates are loyal because your brand has always been loyal to them, allowing them to recommend you to a larger target audience.
The above five groups of powerful advocates are best positioned to influence your target market, meet your marketing objectives and increase market share. Research by Forbes shows that 76% of people are more likely to trust information and recommendation by ‘normal’ people. This makes brand advocacy one of the most effective channels in any B2B, B2C or B2B2C marketing strategy.
Why should you consider brand advocacy for your company?
The right advocacy programme offers brands many short- and long-term benefits that are highly targeted, effective, build loyalty and brand recommendations. Advocacy programmes are proven to obtain a higher ROI on your marketing budget, and the benefits include;
- New customer acquisitions
- Build loyalty amongst existing customers
- Communication with existing clients in a more tailored and personalised approach
- Ignites learning and interest about your brand and its values
- Encourages advocacy amongst internal and external stakeholders
- Data insights gives you a deep understanding of each user and empowers you to optimise and improve results.
To find out how you can harness the power of brand advocates, talk to a team that’s leading the way with advocacy programmes for local and international brands.