How to Build Brand Advocacy: Part One
Brand Advocacy is something we all want. We might not be quite sure what it means. We don’t always know it when we see it. We definitely don’t know how to go about getting it. But there’s one thing we do know about brand advocacy. We know we want it!
Many of us, myself included, have been guilty of putting brand advocacy on the long finger. Or even worse assuming it’s something that will just happen organically. It won’t.
The following article aims to get all of us, from marketing managers to small business owners, thinking about how we can build brand advocacy for our own companies.
What is brand advocacy?
A brand advocate is someone who actively promotes your brand to others through word-of-mouth marketing.
This person can be a customer, a staff member or anyone else who has come into contact with your brand, product or service. There are numerous ways in which an individual can advocate for your brand; from a simple conversation with their hairdresser to a social media post to leaving a positive review for your business.
Although the internet has amplified the potential reach of brand advocacy it was in existence long before the first computer was ever conceived.
From the 1800’s travelling salesman to the slick 1960’s ads man, to the 1980s PR spin doctors word-of-mouth has been an essential, and highly coveted, aspect of advertising.
Why is brand advocacy important?
Today’s consumer is empowered. They’re no longer restricted to purchasing local products. They don’t ask the concierge where to eat. They don’t need to rely on the experiences of those they know personally when looking for recommendations.
While in the past word-of-mouth was an important aspect in purchase decisions, today we no longer passively sit back and wait for it to reach us. We go out and search for the information we need. During this process, we encounter positive and negative recommendations that greatly influence our buying decisions.
By implementing a brand advocacy plan you are proactively steering the conversion about your brand. Although brands can do this with organic and paid content there is nothing more powerful to influence purchasing behaviour than trust.
Trust is more easily given to peers than it is to businesses. Therefore, if we can get people recommending our brand to their peers then their peers are more likely to become customers. In addition, a person who recommends a brand increases their brand loyalty. Having recommended it to their online community they are now socially invested.
How to identify brand advocacy
In order to build an effective brand advocacy program, you must first learn how to identify advocacy when you see it. An easy way to do this is to look at your own purchase behaviour. How did you decide on the restaurant for Saturday night? Did a friend recommend it to you? What about your dentist, did you search and read online reviews?
You probably encounter hundreds of instances of brand advocacy in your everyday life.
If you think you are beyond influence, stop and think critically. How did you decide on the computer which you are reading this article on? Why did you first choose this sandwich bar for your work-day lunch? If you weren’t at least partially influenced by the recommendations or examples of others you are probably the exception.
Learning how to identify brand advocacy when you see it will not only make you a more conscious consumer but it will also make you a better marketer.
Take note of successful instances of brand advocacy around you. Do you see an idea which you could take and adapt for your own business? Why not give it a go!
The exciting thing about brand advocacy is that what can first appear like a rather nebulous area of marketing quickly becomes straight-forward. Once you start thinking about it you will begin to see opportunities to build advocacy everywhere.