If you’re searching for an efficient and cost-effective marketing strategy that can substantially increase your brand recognition and customer loyalty, you should turn your attention to advocacy marketing. This is a method of promoting products or services through satisfied customers who are ready and willing to vouch for your brand.
The power of advocacy marketing lies in the authenticity of customer and employee testimonials. People are statistically more inclined to trust and experiment with a product if it’s recommended by someone they trust or identify with, rather than solely relying on the company’s advertisements. This is corroborated by data indicating that 88% of individuals place their trust in word-of-mouth recommendations.
With that in mind, here are five key steps to help you harness the power of advocacy marketing.
1. Know Your Brand Inside Out
By definition, advocacy in marketing is the process of leveraging customers, employees or other stakeholders who have a positive relationship with your brand to actively promote and recommend your products or services to others.
To that end, understanding your brand is the foundation of effective advocacy marketing. Ask yourself: What does your brand represent? What are its core values? What distinguishes it from the competition? Knowing your brand will help you identify potential customer advocates who align with your brand’s identity and values.
Once you know exactly how you want to be perceived in the public eye, it’s time to tailor your strategy accordingly. For instance, if you focus on user-generated content and want to be viewed as a fun organization, then allow your user-generated content to take a lighter approach. On the other hand, if you want to be perceived as a more luxurious and professional brand, convey to your fans that reviews and informative content are what you are focusing on so that they can help you achieve your goals.
2. Identify Your Advocates
Customer advocates can be anyone who has had a positive experience with your brand, product, or service. They may be repeat customers, employees, influencers, or even people who have praised your brand on social media. Use analytics tools to find those who have had positive interactions with your brand and then categorize them based on their potential influence, reach, and alignment with your brand.
Or simply take to social media and pinpoint which of your followers are the most engaged and reach out to them. Whether the goal is to generate user-generated content or convert them into brand ambassadors, your most loyal fans are likely active on various platforms, avidly following your brand. This consistent interaction is a clear indicator of where and how to find them.
On the other hand, if you notice that some of your employees are incredibly dedicated to your brand, don’t hesitate to turn them into advocates. They know you and your business inside out, and their advocacy will help you reach new heights.
3. Build Relationships with Your Advocates
After identifying your potential advocates, the next crucial step is to establish and cultivate strong relationships with them. This isn’t a one-off process but a continuous effort to engage your advocates and make them feel valued.
Start by interacting with them on social media platforms where they are active. Comment on their posts, respond to their queries, and appreciate their efforts when they mention or tag your brand. This sort of engagement shows that you value their input and contribution to your brand’s narrative.
Consider sending personalized emails to make them feel special and noticed. These could be thank-you notes for their support, personalized offers, or updates about your brand that might interest them. Emails offer a direct line of communication that can help in building a more intimate connection.
Inviting advocates to exclusive brand events, either online or in-person, can also be a highly effective strategy. These could range from product launch parties, webinars, or exclusive sneak peeks at upcoming products or services. Such events provide your advocates with a sense of exclusivity and involvement in your brand’s community.
4. Create an Advocacy Program
Once you’ve cultivated strong bonds with your advocates, it’s time to formalize these connections by establishing an advocacy program. This program could take several forms, including a referral system, a loyalty scheme, or an affiliate program, each with its unique benefits. A referral program encourages advocates to spread the word about your brand in their network, while a loyalty program rewards repeated patronage, and an affiliate program provides incentives for promoting your products or services.
By providing a clear structure and tangible rewards, these programs not only motivate your advocates but also make it easier for you to measure their contributions. Implementing a robust advocacy program is a strategic way to sustain these relationships, amplify your brand’s reach, and ultimately enhance your business’s growth.
5. Track, Analyze and Improve
Finally, you need to track the results of your advocacy marketing efforts. Use analytics tools to monitor the reach and impact of your advocates’ activities. How much web traffic, social media engagement, or sales can be attributed to them? Use this information to refine and improve your program over time. Advocacy marketing is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy; it requires ongoing monitoring and improvement.
Advocacy marketing is a powerful strategy that leverages the trust and authenticity inherent in customer relationships. By understanding your brand, identifying and nurturing your advocates, providing value, establishing an advocacy program, and continually monitoring and improving, you can unlock the full potential of advocacy marketing.