A brand advocate is a person or group that likes your brand, speaks or blogs or tweets or otherwise communicates about it, may buy your brand, and certainly influences others to consider doing so. A brand advocate is a like a billboard with credibility – no, not literally, but you get the idea. Companies resoundingly benefit from having brand advocates – in fact, they need them if they want the achieve optimal performance.
Here are a few benefits:
-Believability: Isn’t it credible when someone else sings your praises? Third-party endorsement tends to ring true.
-Velocity: Talk goes viral. Your advocates are your feet on the street. They have no reason to be “selling” you – they simply admire your company, products, services, or mission.
-Reputation enhancement: People say your company is great. They say it all the time. Point taken.
-Stability: A great reputation can help navigate your company through stormy seasons.
How can you get brand advocates?
-Seek media coverage (print, online, broadcast) that provides third-party endorsement, whether by virtue of an article being published or – even better – a bylined article by someone who speaks well of your brand – an advocate!
-Gather testimonials and case studies. Customers who’ve used your products and services to solve problems, who come back to you over and over, brand loyalists… it may sound like old school but there is a reason companies continue to use testimonials and case studies – they act as proof that the company has advocates!
-Get your products and services reviewed and tested independently – publish the good news about how they’ve done.
-Train users in the best ways to employ your products and services, and make advocates of these users. Better yet, make them loyal for life.
-Get involved with independent training and certification programs through which your products and services can be recognized for their excellence in specific usages or characteristics.
-Enlist people who know your brand well to speak at industry trade shows and in Webinars. Even if the discussion is not solely about product (and it often isn’t) your brand advocate can put in a few words about an approach or technology that clearly refers to your brand.
-Give a little. Provide samples of your product or service to people who may become advocates: depending on what you are giving away and who you need to reach, these people could be coaches, teachers, production supervisors in a plant, physicians, or anyone else in a position to use and enjoy the product and tell friends and associates about it.
These are just a few of the myriad ways to build brand advocates and I hope the examples will inspire you to devise brand advocacy building programs that will work for your company or organization.