Social media has become a huge dynamic in advertising. Digital marketing increases the life-cycle of the average ad campaign. Add to the mix, brand advocacy to improve customer experience.

We are moving away from the one-and-done sales strategy. This was when the goal was to complete the sale and move on to the next consumer. Today the goal is to retain as many customers as you can.

It’s simple. Selling to a return customer who trusts your brand is easier than resetting the sales funnel from the beginning.

This doesn’t mean you stop trying to bring in new business. Instead, businesses recognize the opportunities in building relationships with existing clients. The client is now an extension of the marketing strategy.

How does this work? Keep reading to learn why brand advocacy programs are important to today’s businesses and their brand.

What is Brand Advocacy?

Brand advocacy is a model in business that is geared towards turning loyal customers and employees into walking billboards. They can be regular customers or proud employees.

The goal is to identify those who identify with your brand and want your business to succeed. They believe in your product or service and when asked for a recommendation they immediately think of your business.

These individuals have a connection with you and care about your success. Sometimes they have never met the owner but like how they feel after interacting with your staff.

Think of companies like Chick-fil-A. They have mastered the art of turning consumers into brand advocates.

Who Can Become a Brand Advocate?

The answer is anyone can become a brand advocate for your business if they relate to your brand. When we talk about brands we are referring to more than a logo and a tagline. We are talking about what makes your business different from other businesses in the industry.

Once a person understands your “it” factor and connects to it, they are on their way to becoming a brand advocate.

Consumers

These are people that feel as if they are a part of your business, not just a customer. They comment on your social media posts and share your content. Or always post about their visits to your establishment and posts pictures of their products or receiving a service.

If you run a restaurant, they will bring visiting family and friends to have dinner.

Employees

Employees become advocates when they are vested in the business’s success beyond their paycheck. Look for the ones who are proud to wear their company branded clothing outside of work. They also volunteer to man the business booth at community events.

When it comes to team-building sessions, they are the first to sign-up because they want to be a part of what you are creating.

Family and Friends

Family and friends should always be brand advocates but it is not always the case. Be on the lookout for the ones that promote your business without being asked. They are open to helping without being asked when they see you lacking in a certain area.

Industry Partners

Industry partners are people that work in your industry but do not consider themselves your competition. Sometimes, the brand advocate is a competitor but there is mutual respect between the business owners.

An industry partner will recommend your business when a client asks about a service you perform. Or it may be someone who is booked on a particular day or time when their client needs an emergency appointment. So they recommend you.

Industry partners are suppliers who have respect for how you operate. In return, they have their eyes, and ears open for opportunities that may benefit your business.

When you recognize these individuals show your appreciation. It is also time to build brand advocacy programs around their efforts.

How to Incorporate Advocates Into Your Marketing Strategy

The first step in incorporating someone into your strategy is identifying who those individuals are. Once someone catches your attention monitor their habits. If possible, use customer engagement tools to learn what they really think and feel.

Next, recognize their support. If they make a post about you online, like it, say thank you, share it back to your page.

When employees go above and beyond acknowledge their efforts. Recognize them in a company newsletter or on your website. You can do the same for industry partners.

Always show your gratitude to family and friends on a more personal level. Never take their support for granted because customers and employees may move on but family is always there.

Creating the Perfect Brand Advocacy Program

Often brand advocates don’t know they’re fulfilling a role in your strategy. They aren’t under contract to do what they do. Therefore, they shouldn’t be treated as such.

Avoid placing pressure on individuals to show support. Instead, show how much you appreciate their efforts.

With a brand advocacy program, you come up with ways to reward their commitment to your brand. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Send a thank-you card with a gift.
  • Use a social pin to post on social media acknowledging their support.
  • Introduce a point system to earn free brand paraphernalia.
  • Host an Employee Appreciation luncheon.
  • Have a private party to honor all of your brand advocates.
  • Give them a sneak peek and complementary product or service.
  • Create incentives for each new customer sent your way.

There are so many ways you can show appreciation to those who advocate for your business. When others see what you are doing they too will want to get in on the action.

It’s Time to Fully Engage Your Advocates

Incorporating brand advocacy programs into your marketing strategy is a win for everyone. You get to leverage your brand in the marketplace, and your advocates are rewarded for their support.

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