Advocacy marketing programs are rapidly growing in relevancy as it becomes increasingly clear that some of the very best sales people are a company’s own happy customers.
Customer advocacy marketing is a specialized strategy that is customer-centric and takes full advantage of all facets of contact with the customer. Many companies are now choosing to implement advocate marketing programs, recognizing the importance of customer-focus and of nurturing that relationship. As critical as branding is to your business, it comes with a cost—and often a high one at that. A strong advocate base can be one of your brand’s most cost-effective assets.
“If you are like me, when you fall in love with a brand or specific product, you want everyone to know about it, and you are not ashamed to tout it to the world—both loudly and passionately.”
With social media filling every corner of our lives, one voice can be heard as a wave of echoes in many places at once, and that reach is boundless. It is just this kind of organic, authentic, unsolicited love for a brand that makes an advocate base so impactful. An advocate is not only willing to promote and spread the positive word about your brand, but wants to, and does so repeatedly: online; in person with friends, colleagues and family; and publicly, at events.
I’ll give you a practical example. One of my peers became very passionate about the local food movement several years ago, and she subscribed to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share. She received a weekly bushel filled with produce grown by local farmers. She loved the product so fiercely that she began talking about (a lot) and sharing it with her contacts and in her network—posts showed up on all her social media, and she ultimately created a food blog with recipes, photos and video showcasing (and giving credit to the source of) those fresh ingredients. Years later, she is still loyal to that company, and continues to sing its praises. These are the advocates you want to foster; it is what it means to grow a long-term, happy customer, and to take advantage of that enthusiasm for your brand. Many new customers were born for that company, influenced by her passion.
These advocates wield the mightiest of tools, word-of-mouth, and can sway the purchasing decisions of other prospective customers through their own personal accounts. More and more, buyers turn to their peer groups when they are wanting additional information or to ask opinions about products and services. People give more credence to information when it comes from peers.
Creating a customer advocacy marketing program is powerful because it equips business owners and marketers with a way to engage and mobilize their most loyal customers as brand champions. Once empowered, these dedicated fans drive sales and increase revenue through referrals, testimonials, recommendations, reviews, references and, of course, social media. But, let’s think outside of that box, and consider how you can broaden your advocate base even further with employee advocates.
“Employee advocates are all too often an underutilized resource, but should absolutely be considered as a viable means to expanding your advocate base.”
Think about employee advocacy as the promotion of a business through the assistance of its own employees. This is usually accomplished through the employee’s own social media (networks, chatrooms, discussion forums, emails, blogs, podcasts etc.). Effective employee advocacy marketing programs can offer incentives, but should not ever be forced. Let’s not forget the power of a simple “thank you”—that two-word phrase handily speaks volumes. As is also true with customer advocates, the most compelling testimonials, reviews, referrals and recommendations are those which are genuine and offered freely.
Let’s go a step further and consider video advocacy marketing.
Creative, compelling, captivating video production to engage your audience.
There is no denying the fact that online video’s rapid growth is going to continue soaring skyward. As big as it already is, it is sure to only get bigger. In the hands of a first-class creative content agency, video is included in marketing strategies to create the most effective and best performance results. As an example, videos that feature employees can be used as an aide in personalizing your relationship with prospective customers. After all, we all want to feel like we know something about those creating the products and services that we love. It is that human component that connects us. These videos serve as an extension for your employee advocate by putting a human face on your brand. To that end, finding a video team made up of experienced, motivated creatives will produce great results.
Why not let video bring life to your customer testimonials? Allowing happy customers to share their own positive stories about your product or service via video can have a substantial and beneficial impact on your brand. Take your business video even further with company overviews, culture spotlights, and product demos.
This is the powerful reach of advocacy marketing. Create an evergreen community base of loyal advocates who want to shout out loud about your brand, product or service. Connect, engage and empower those advocates. And, don’t forget to give the love back by saying “thank you, we appreciate you, you are important to us.” Building strong relationships will result in long-term, loyal fans that keep coming back— and continue to devotedly spread the word.