BRAFTON POST: How to use advocacy marketing
I’m serious. We all need a helping hand sometimes, and it’s good to have someone in your corner when things get tough.
For businesses, those people are your advocates. They’re your best customers; not just because they buy a lot or are easy to work with but because they believe in your brand and want to help you achieve your company mission.
What’s more, they endorse your company all the time, whether prompted or not. In a way, advocates are the best cheerleaders your business can have.
That’s why it’s important as a marketer to recognize your current advocates and try to cultivate as many additional ones as you can. This is what advocacy marketing is all about.
What is advocacy marketing?
The simple explanation is that advocacy is the last stage in account-based marketing. A better explanation is your marketing efforts should work to turn your clients into customers who not only love your brand but sing its praises to everyone who will listen. It’s word-of-mouth marketing for the digital age.
And we all know that word-of-mouth works.
In a survey from Ogilvy, TNS and Google, word of mouth held the most influence in purchasing decisions among consumers. And let’s face it: We’ve all added something to our Amazon wish list because our friends made it sound cool. (Mine was fancy imported instant ramen packets, for the record).
Also, keep in mind that consumer opinions posted online are the third-most-trusted form of advertising, per Nielsen. If you’ve ever seen a movie with a huge advertising budget but a horrible Rotten Tomatoes score, then you know how much online opinions matter.
Advocacy marketing attempts to fill the gap between traditional advertising and glowing online comments. In a sense, you’re using the first idea to improve the second, creating stronger content that converts people from customers to advocates. You’re also nurturing your existing advocates to strengthen your bond with them.
In this way, advocacy marketing complements your existing campaigns, working alongside them to boost engagement.
What’s a brand advocate, really?
Advocates are those customers who support your business almost as much as you do. They show up to every party with an invite, and they’ll stand by your side when you least expect it.
And they’re happy to do so in exchange for the amazing service you provide.
That’s the thing: Brand advocates don’t just support your business, they believe in it. They agree with your company’s mission, whatever it may be, and fully trust that you’ll achieve your customer-service initiatives. They provide helpful, constructive feedback to improve your product or service, and they may even come up with a new idea of their own.
And lucky for you, their enthusiasm shows itself not just in their level of engagement but in their willingness to praise your brand to other people. Advocates open up a large network of opportunities, ideally extolling your business to their peers, friends and family.
A happy customer is a megaphone for your digital marketing efforts. They can nurture potential customers (aka acquaintances) and strengthen the bond among existing customers. A marketing campaign that draws out these connections is the hallmark of brand advocacy.
Finding your brand advocates
At first, your energy is best spent using advocacy marketing to target your most engaged customers and get them to spread word of your business. This act could be as simple as sharing a LinkedIn post from your brand or tagging your company in an Instagram post.
Clients who are the most engaged and in touch with their designated day-to-day are good people to target. Engage them with personalized marketing emails that allow them to share content on their social pages. Interview them for short videos or case studies, and invite them to any events you host.
Once you’ve developed a strong connection with these people, you can switch to your average customers. These are the people who like your brand well enough but don’t feel any strong attachment to it. With advocacy marketing, your goal is to create content that gets these people to fall in love with your business.
Also, give all of your current and potential advocates your engagement. Hype up their business on social media when appropriate to do so, and share any interesting content the company has created if it’s relevant to your audience. Showing you’re willing to support them (in the B2C space) or their business (in B2B) makes them more likely to invest in yours.
Advocacy marketing examples
Customer advocacy is one of those beautiful moments in marketing — brands gain exposure and referrals; customers enjoy the comradery of a campaign then can enjoy.
Let’s be honest, though. Advocates aren’t always hyper-partisan brand advocates who will do anything for their fav — for free. There’s usually something in it for the advocate (read: kickback swag, referral bonuses or coupons redeemed at a later time), even if they are a happy, loyal customer. Even so, empowering your customers to promote your brand on your behalf adds another dimension to your broader marketing strategy.
Let’s look at some advocacy marketing programs in action.
Book of the Month
Book of the Month — the company behind, you guessed it, sending subscribers one new book per month — does a great job of letting their customers interact with the brand online and with each other.
Through the company’s “Bookclubs,” members are encouraged to form their own groups, add their own friends and select their own books. Then, they can schedule conversations and probably drink wine to set the vibe.
These self-managed groups are run by “bookclub leaders” and help extend the company’s voice into new markets through word of mouth and new subscriptions.
Atlas Coffee Club
Another subscription service, Atlas Coffee Club sources single-origin coffee from across the globe, curates an “artfully roasted” batch and ships to your door every month.
Along with your order of premium coffee, you also receive a postcard with information about where your coffee came from, its tasting notes and how it’s best served. Plus everything is packaged in designs that showcase the local flavors and landscapes of the countries of origin.
This visual array of product materials are meant to be photographed and shared on social media, allowing customers to show “where they’ve been” even if they’re actually stuck at home posting from a smartphone like everyone else…
Written By Autumn Green
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