What was the worst marketing move ever

Brand Advocacy: Small Businesses Secret Weapon

As a young man, I worked on a lecture given by Tony Robbins, among other things. I noticed a number of people who were selling tickets for further workshops and courses and who were all wearing T-shirts with the glittering gold lettering "Volunteer" on their backs.

I approached one of these volunteers and asked why she was giving her time for free instead of at least getting the minimum wage (like me). Your answer? She was such a fan of the lectures that she would always sign up for ticket sales if one was going on nearby.

Robbins had created a following of loyal fans who helped him market his products for free. This brand advocacy was a cost-effective marketing strategy where he only had to pay for the catering (in the form of sandwiches and drinks) and a bulk order for glitter t-shirts.

Why Your Next Marketing Move Should Be Building Brand Advocacy

Brand advocacy not only works for motivational speakers, it can also have a significant impact on the success of a company in terms of brand awareness and brand positioning, especially if it has limited financial resources.

This particularly affects small and medium-sized companies, which often do not have the resources for chatbots or a large acquisition team. This can lead to lost leads and lost sales.

The cost-efficient alternative to chatbots and acquisition teams? A solid brand positioning that creates basic customer service without incurring additional costs.

This article explains how a business can keep their overheads small while still generating loyal customers and leads. Brand advocacy strategies are also described: how they work and how they can help a company with brand positioning and increasing brand awareness.

The 4 brand advocacy strategies

Simply put, a brand advocate is an “advocate” or “advocate” of a product so excited is that he speaks out for a company in public.

In the following, we will focus on four customer-based types of brand advocates:

  1. Brand loyalists are loyal customers who buy all of a company's products because they like it so much. The catch: You may not speak out in public for the company.
  2. Brand advocate like a company and its products and promote them to everyone who listens. The catch: youusenot necessarily the products themselves.
  3. Brand ambassador are the holy grail, the declared aim of brand advocacy. They use a product and they like it so much that they recommend the company to everyone, friends, family, neighbors or their pets.
  4. Brand opponents not only reject a product, but also try to get others not to use it. Sometimes a company's brand advocates and ambassadors are also brand opponents of competitors.

All four types of brand advocates can be crucial for achieving corporate goals: The first three types can bring your company forward tremendously, while the fourth type can, in the worst case, cause damage.

Why brand advocacy is beneficial to a company regardless of goals

Companies usually set specific goals that can change depending on a variety of factors. However, brand advocacy strategies are a universal solution.

Let's look at five common business goals and see how brand advocacy can help to achieve them.

1. Goal: increase visibility

Brand ambassadors often use social media and are twice as likely to share information about a company as non-brand ambassadors.

The marketing planning service Marketing Charts has even found that brand ambassadors reach an average of 150 people every time they mention a company. With five ambassadors alone, that means 650 new people who learn something about the products.

You can't buy this type of public relations, which brings us straight to the next point.

2. Goal: Preservation of a positive ROI

Brand advocacy is a relatively inexpensive marketing strategy. Companies and their products receive a lot of attention through channelsthat don't cost you anything.

At most, they have to create incentives for their ambassadors (we'll get to that in a moment) and pay for advocacy software to measure success, but otherwise there are no additional costs.

3. Goal: Generate leads

According to a 2018 Gartner survey, 27% of small and medium-sized businesses use social media as their first source of information when purchasing software. *

If brand advocates are active, the increased visibility and positive presentation mean that up to a quarter of all software buyers in the sales funnel can be traced back to them.

4th goal: increase productivity

When brand advocates do a lot of the publicity, generate organic search results and cater for demand, the marketing team can mostly deal with innovative projects and serve more channels.

87% of Germans feel stressed and every second thinks they are facing burnout. The workload for the marketing department is correspondingly large and the component of the corporate strategy is correspondingly important.

5. Goal: customer care

As customers become brand advocates, they become more of a partner. You feel part of the process and a valuable member of the community.

This is an excellent way of collecting feedback, sometimes getting to know your customer base even better and giving them a feeling of appreciation.

The key to your own brand advocacy

To run an effective brand advocacy program, at least broadly, there are a few guidelines to follow.

Determination of KPIs

As a first step, tangible key figures, so-called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) must be determined. This can be something as simple as "increase the number of social media followers", which can be both simply measured and clearly traced back to brand advocacy.

The latter is particularly important - the KPIs must be directly linked to the brand advocacy program, otherwise you will get wrong results, which in turn can have negative effects elsewhere.

Here is an example: A bad KPI would be "Increase sales". Aside from social media presence, there are a number of other factors that contribute to increasing sales. To attribute the entire success to brand advocacy only would degrade the work of the other teams and damage them - and thus also the company.

Determination of the target audience

Then you have to get an exact picture of your target audience. Which social media offers do you use? Who are they following there?

The answers to these questions are of paramount importance in finding active brand advocates, after all, finding them in the most effective channels and demographics for your products.

Selecting the best candidates as brand advocates

But how do you find these brand advocates?

This requires close monitoring of activities and comments on social media in order to find people who act as brand advocates or brand ambassadors. This can be done with the help of CRM systems or social media marketing tools.

The possible brand ambassadors must be professional, communicate clear messages and already have a large number of followers.

As soon as they have been checked for their qualifications, one should follow them on their social media channels and actively participate in their content.

Converting Loyalists and Advocates into Ambassadors

Loyal customers are a helpful resource in and of themselves, but as brand ambassadors, they're a great marketing tool.

One measure would be to promote a good cause or a non-profit organization. In return, their representatives also have an interest in publicly supporting this company.

People fulfill a natural social need when they share content online. You define yourself through it and feel positively strengthened and the mutual relationship.

In order to convert brand advocates into brand ambassadors, one thing must first be found out: Why do they speak positively about a product but don't use it themselves?

By trying to get into conversation with them, you can reinforce the positive feeling and thus have a chance to convert them to users after all.

With this strategy can be a successful brand advocacy in favor of the needs of the company and those of the customers.

Create incentives for ambassadors

Thanking people for engaging in conversations can often have positive effects. Maybe you send them a little attention, offer a discount on a new product or mention them in your own social media profiles.

These incentives can ultimately lead to the "triangle of trust":

The mutual benefit of brand advocacy (source)

2 other types of brand advocates

Aside from social media, there are two other ways to promote brand ambassadors.

  1. Employee ambassadorsEmployee ambassadors are employees of their own company who identify with their employer in such a way that they speak out for him publicly.

They are an invaluable resource for employer branding because, according to the global communications company Edelman, 52% of customers see a company's employees as a credible source of information.

  1. B2B brand ambassadorsIf a company delivers a product or service to another company and someone moves from there to a new employer, the person concerned can become a brand ambassador for the new position.

These people are difficult to find, so intensive care of the customer relationship is the best opportunity. If these contacts change their job, they have a positive impression of a product and recommend it to others in their new position.

Regardless of where you find your brand ambassadors, you should involve them, create incentives for them and retain them.

With the help of these tips, brand ambassadors are an easy-care and inexpensive way to increase brand awareness and inspire consumers for a company and its products.

* Results are from a Gartner survey that examined the behavior of small and medium-sized business owners when purchasing software in the previous 12 months. The field study was conducted online between July and August 2018 among 420 participants in the US, Germany and France.

The selection of small and medium-sized companies was made on the basis of the number of employees and the income in the 2017 financial year. In addition, they must have purchased at least one software solution worth at least $ 5,000 in the past 12 months. Participating people had to hold at least the position of office manager and influence the purchasing of software in their company.

The study was jointly developed by Gartner analysts and the Primary Research Team for Digital Markets.

Disclaimer: The results do not correspond to "global" results and do not speak for the entire market, but represent the market climate of the participants and companies surveyed.