Every brand wants advocates. Little wonder. According to Janessa Mangone, people who actively promote your brand can be 50% more influential than the average customer in helping you secure new sales. So perhaps attracting them is something best not left to chance. As we head into the busy Christmas season, here’s some simple but timely reminders on how to put some wow! in your WOM.
Give them something to talk about – advocates love to share. Release news, ideas, tips, FAQs, case studies, video and reviews that the people who love your brand can enthusiastically share with others. Use email marketing to give them ‘scoops’ that are not released in the general media, and watch your traffic. It’s a simple way to monitor the amplifying effect of your advocates. While companies are increasingly looking at content marketing to bring new people to their brand, it’s easy to overlook the need to keep your current community involved and excited. A comprehensive piece here by Joe Pulizzi on how to attract and retain customers this way.
Recognise your most loyal customers – obvious,yes but often missed. Recognition might be through discounts, invitations to events, special previews or exclusive content. Above all, continue to thank these people for their support. And make sure that they never feel taken for granted. See how it’s worked for Starbucks.
Work the industry influencers – tell them things that they can tell others. This group is different than your advocacy network because they may or may not be passionate proponents. But in a world where everyone wants content to share, giving those who have clout the information they need to spread the word adds valuable third party endorsement that will bring new people to your brand and confirm the loyalty of those who are already followers.
Build a hall of fame – if you have celebrities or people in the spotlight amongst your fan base, look for reasons and occasions to put them, an occasion and your brand together. If the famous or infamous are not amongst your customer base, then look at developing a brand ambassador programme. Here’s how Lululemon did just that.
Act for others – draw attention to your brand’s good works in the community or for social change and encourage your advocates to join in. Again, this broadens your appeal to new customers and reinforces the pride that advocates already feel.
Bring people together. Encourage a sense of community online by setting up a supporters’ site – it’s a simple and highly effective way to bring people together to talk about the brand they love and to problem solve for others who are still coming to grips with what you offer. Given the widespread use of review sites to confirm purchase decisions, and Mangone’s stat that 83% of consumers require some degree of customer support while making an online purchase, it makes sense to put the people who haven’t connected with you in touch with others who have. It also makes sense to give your advocacy community, including of course your own employees, a place to share and tell stories. Some great examples of that here.
Not sure who advocates for you, or how? Mark Fidelman breaks down 7 advocacy types here in this handy infographic.
A new index released by Boston Consulting Group last month shows why more brands should be putting more effort into driving loyalty and sales this way. Among their findings:
- Positive advocacy tends to be higher in industries whose products or services evoke greater emotional involvement, in “aspirational” categories and and for very visible purchases that involve significant money and research time.
- Spontaneous advocacy has much greater impact on positive word-of-mouth than recommendations that are prompted.
- Companies often overlook the inputs of non-customers but these people can be particularly influential in industries or segments in which only a small number of consumers purchase, or in which consumers purchase relatively infrequently.
An interesting footnote. Another finding from that BCG research is a sobering reminder to always keep an eye on your reputation – criticism damages a brand much more than praise helps it.
Image of “Fans cheers the opening kickoff” taken by Ben Stanfield, sourced from Flickr