How to Build Brand Advocacy: Part Two
The following five-step system is designed to be used as a framework to help you create an effective customer advocacy plan that will build your brand’s reputation.
#1 – Identify existing customer advocates
The first step to creating a customer advocacy plan is to identify existing customer advocates and fans of your brand. Talk to your sales and customer service team or speak with your distributors. Have they received any direct positive feedback from customers?
Next, think about indirect advocacy.
Conduct a simple Google search and check social media channels to see if anyone has been talking about your brand. You should also set up Google Alerts and consider investing in a social listening tool. There are also a lot of free tools available and many paid social media scheduling tools can also monitor social media mentions.
Check out the people who have been liking or sharing your social media posts.
Remember not to get disheartened if you don’t find customer advocates straight-away. Keep digging, look in the data and get to know your customers. Somebody must like your product or service, they’re purchasing it after all :-).
#2 – Identify potential customer advocates
The second step is to identify potential customer advocates or potential fans of your brand. These are customers who through their actions, rather than words, have shown a high level of satisfaction in your product or service. Depending on your business this could be indicated via repeat purchases, frequent user interactions, or something else entirely.
Set up tools and systems so you can identify potential advocates on an ongoing basis.
For bigger businesses, a Net Promoter Score measurement system integrated into your website might be the way to go. Or maybe an automated post-purchase email with a link to a short survey will do the trick. It could even be something as basic as a phone call.
Identifying potential customer advocates is something that anyone within the business, from sales, to customer service, to supply should be able to help with.
#3 – Set up platforms to collect recommendations
The third step is to set up the appropriate platforms to host your brand advocacy. For many businesses this will doing mean one of the following:
- Enable reviews or recommendations on your Facebook Page
- Set up a Google My Business (Google Maps) listing
- Sign-up for an independent review service such as Feefo or TrustPilot
Depending on the importance of brand advocacy to your business and the potential interest, you may also want to build a bigger infrastructure for advocacy such as:
- A testimonials page on your website
- A Facebook or LinkedIn superuser group
- A customer case studies program
- A user-generated content competition
Whatever you do, make sure you have the platforms in place before you start asking for recommendations or you will miss out on valuable opportunities.
#4 – Decide on your value proposition
The fourth step is one that a lot of us get stuck on – deciding the value proposition for advocacy. What do your customers get in exchange for recommending your business?
There’s a range of both monetary and non-monetary things which you can offer in exchange for brand advocacy. These should be decided based on the effort level required and the rules of any independent review sites you are using. Are you asking for something as simple as an online review or does it require more effort like a testimonial video.
Here are some value propositions which you could offer for brand advocacy:
- Access to products before they are available to the general public.
- The opportunity to feedback ideas to the product development team.
- Exclusive promotions or discounts for advocates, friends or family members.
Don’t underestimate the power of goodwill. If you genuinely provide a valuable product and offer outstanding support then your customers will want to recommend you – without an incentive. Make it as easy as possible for them to do this.
#5 – Ask your advocates to recommend you
The last, and most crucial, step is to simply ask. Ask your customer advocates and potential advocates to recommend you on whichever platform you have chosen.
Often, this is done via a simple email with a direct link to somewhere they can leave a review. Don’t ask for too much at once or give too many choices. The goal is to keep things simple and relevant. So for example, if you are asking them on Facebook then give them a link to the Facebook review section of your page. If you are asking them to leave a review via email and you have a Gmail address for them ask them to leave you a Google review.
After someone has left a positive review, thank them. Good manner cost nothing 😉
Next, depending on how favourably you think they view your brand you may want to reach out to them personally or as a select group to offer an opportunity for greater advocacy. This could be asking permission to use their review on a testimonial page or in promotional literature, inviting them to be part of a fan group or something else.
You may want to automate all or part of this process. For example, you could include a review link following favourable survey completion. Keep asking and providing means to promote your brand to people that you have pre-identified as potential advocates.
Slowly you will build up a valuable army of brand advocates who you can rely on to uphold your brand values, counteract detractors and convert leads into customers.