Brand advocacy. Something that should be an important part of your marketing output. After all, it is one of the cheapest and most effective forms of advertising. If you get it right, the ripple effect kicks in to action and can help to grow your business. Word of mouth is a very powerful tool, as is organic endorsement via social media, blogs and other sources.
If you fail to deliver a unique and memorable proposition that will attract brand advocates, your brand may not be reaching its full potential. We’re not suggesting that all brands should put this at the heart of its strategy and reallocate valuable resources, but we’re aiming to provide insight and inspiration.
People may not specifically make a purchase because a product or service is better, but because it communicates well with its target audience and customers new and old. Take Apple for example. They may not have the most technologically advanced products on the market, but people continue to purchase them because of the confidence installed in the brand and unique routes to market. Not to mention the exclusivity built around new launches.
Kicking off a brand advocacy campaign could be likened to keyword research in its logic and intentions. The key is to define what makes your customers tick. How are they finding your brand? By pre-empting content that they are likely to engage with and researching where to find them, you can effectively begin to identify the foundations of your community and reach out. But what elements are required to make it a success?
Define your objectives.
Before you start to add or change anything in to your marketing strategy, you should first define a clear objective. Building a community of advocates takes time, commitment and is a long term investment, so it is important to understand how you plan to implement this and why you are doing so.
There is a difference between advocacy and exposure. Exposure would be taking the PR route and creating a buzz within your audience, which is often a short term spike in interest. Advocacy is creating community of users that talk about your brand in a shining light and regularly endorse your business for being excellent at what they do. A real foundation of repeat customers that are happy to recommend and revisit.
There are a number of channels to consider using, from traditional print marketing to loyalty cards and digital platforms such as exclusive emails and the now more commonplace social media.
Provide a clear and memorable user experience.
If people enjoy their experience, they are more likely to recommend it to others in their social group. Similarly, if they have a particularly poor experience they will speak out about it too. The traditional methods of making your shop front appealing to attract foot fall must translate online. Ensuring people enjoy their interactions with your brand is fundamental to retaining customers. Some questions you could be asking during this process are:
- Does your brand have an element of personification?
- Do you satisfy the needs of your multiple buyer personas?
- Are people finding what they need?
- Is it simple to purchase and can users get access to the information they require to make a decision?
- Is my creative visually appealing?
Not only do users want an enticing customer journey to follow, but they want it to be fulfilling too. Clear instruction can help to grow confidence in users, such as a follow up email when an order is received or a message to confirm that their order has been received and they are now a valued customer. Ask yourself whether you would revisit based on a number of digital journeys?
Create distinctive branding.
With consumers being bombarded with advertising, it is often the subtle touches that can contribute to a brand being recognisable and connecting with its audience. Do you create content that is unique and share-able and would someone recognise your work without visiting your website?
Many brands communicate this well using its personality on social media, the types of imagery they use and of course the packaging used. Again, referencing Apple, they have the simplest packaging, but it works.
Lastly, try building invaluable external relationships and brand partnerships with influential sites and news outlets where you’d like to be featured.
Remain consistent across all marketing channel.
In an economy where people like to consume across a plethora of channels, it is vital that nothing gets left behind or forgotten. No matter how someone wishes to interact with you, make sure it follows your desired brand etiquette and guidelines. Understand the goals and objectives of each channel. Some people prefer to receive emails, others over the phone. Many in the modern day may prefer social media or mobile apps to communicate.
From visiting the website through to delivery, your brand proposition needs to ring true.
Provide an opportunity for human intervention.
Allowing users to network and share the things they love is where the potential lies. Can users create and generate content using your product or service and are they likely to share it with their audience? Techniques such as crowd sourcing inter-user challenges and engagement competitions can be some of the most impactful methods of brand amplification.
Install elements of exclusivity into your marketing.
Exclusivity is a buzz-word when it comes to brand advocacy. This is a way of rewarding those loyal to your brand. You can be creative and think of new ways to offer exclusive benefits to those who engage with you. Many products take to social media like light to flies, some may be a bit more difficult. Anything that is material and represents a defined social group will have a good platform. Anything from brand names to artists and luxury to budget can implement an exclusive element.
As shown in the above example, the exclusivity comes as you have to have bought a product from the company and you have the chance to get featured on the website. Other examples of this recently include Amazon’s ‘Prime day’. A day full of exclusive discounts for those who are member of Amazon Prime. An excellent way to drive people to sign up and tell their friends. Incentivised marketing.
By way of reward in return for signing up to a mailing list or tweeting your hashtag, you could offer one-off experiences such as product trials or competition entries to up front information about releases and early bird offers. Another great example of this in practice is O2’s Priority Moments campaign which offers O2 mobile customers access to the likes of concert tickets before they go on sale to the general public.
Engage your internal staff.
One of the most underused advocacy tools at many companies has to be your own internal staff. If you give your employees a reason to ‘shout’ about how great the company is and how much they love their job, the environment, products, services and general association with the company, the chances are they will talk about it.
These people are the bread and butter of your business. One of the main conversation starters when meeting someone new has to be “So, where do you work?”, and you want to install confidence in your staff to communicate how great you are. There is no reason that this can’t also be incentivised!
The final word…
These types of marketing activity may not be suitable for everyone, and certainly all of the above may not apply, but there is always a way to increase repeat custom and create an audience that fully appreciate the product or service you are offering. It is just a matter of finding the right methodology to do so. Use trial and error, test new things and don’t be afraid to break away from routine to showcase your individual traits.