Fanning brand success – Brand Advocates

The word ‘fan’ is an abbreviation of ‘fanatic’ which means a person who is crrrrrazy obsessed about someone or something, normally associated with pop stars, but not to be confused with groupies.

Every company needs fans because it is they who fan the flames of loyalty (geddit?) and who keep the brand uppermost in the minds of their friends, families and colleagues. It is these passionate, fervent supporters of your brand that keep the good vibes going and it is these people who should be earning the top-dollar on your payroll. But they don’t, which is good, else it wouldn’t be true fervour or spontaneous or authentic, or meaningful, it would be paid for and people have been known to do anything for bucks.

But I digress.

Fans of a brand are the true ambassadors, the real supporters, the people who lurve your product, brand and service, and who will recommend you to everyone. Kinda like a fan, but Brand Ambassador sounds cooler.

Marketing can be pretty frustrating when all the effort based on late-night meetings around compiling the best strategy is lost in the brand cacophony of your competitors. You see, it doesn’t matter how great your product or service is if no one has heard of your company, brand or service or why they even matter in the greater scheme of things. And all the while you are hoping to be noticed.

The best tactic is to let people handle the marketing of your brand in an organic manner. Let them be your voice (many voices, actually) and let them speak the lingo of the customer base. No sales jargon and product pushing involved, just pure enthusiasm. This is something that you cannot teach even the best salesperson. According to statistics, 92% of online consumers trust recommendations from people they know and whose opinion they trust.

When they ‘connect’ deeply with your company, they will treat you as a friend: They look you up on social media, share comments on your website, and ask for advice from you in a time of need. And when their social circle asks for a recommendation, it is your name that they volunteer.

But it’s a two-way street. While brand advocates are not paid for their enthusiasm, the key is to identify them and nurture their success as they proactively share their experiences of the company, brand and service within their networks via social, word of mouth (WOM, the killer marketing tool), email, or through content, void of any motivation other than their passion for the brand.

These die-hards will promote your brand, show support, and even sway the buying habits of those in their circle.

The biggest cheerleaders normally come from your customers or your clients and form the largest and most important part of brand advocacy, as they are so in love with your brand that they will go above and beyond recommending it to everyone with whom they interact.

This is all built on trust. They trust your company and the value you show them, and they continuously support your brand by endorsing your product line and services to new customers and prospects — free, gratis.

It pays dividends to ensure that your customers aren’t merely satisfied, but totally smitten with your brand, when you consider that it costs businesses anywhere from 5x to 25x more to bring in new customers than keep existing ones.

Show appreciation for their input and fervour through:

  • Actively connecting with them on social media
  • Sharing helpful and informative blog posts and newsletters
  • Developing landing pages custom-made to their needs
  • Listening to their input, good and bad
  • Contacting them for testimonials and success stories to boost your street cred

Read here for more tips on how to show your appreciation for your  unpaid ‘staff’: 4 Ways to Nurture Brand Advocates

This brand enthusiasm is especially important however, if it comes from within and here, I am talking voluntary promoting via enthusiastic staff, so just ignore my earlier comment about being paid, as this is not the case to which I refer. Salespeople earn on the back of their turnover target, but how about the packer on the floor, the truck driver, or the warehouse foreman? None of these are paid to promote your company, so it’s added value when they do!

According to results from the Kredible Employee Advocacy Study, employee advocacy programs that involve at least 1,000 active participants can generate $1,900,000 in advertising value.

When it comes to both employer and corporate branding, employees are often considered the best brand advocates. This can be enhanced by initiating a simple employee advocacy program within the company which can go a long way in driving profits. The various generations need to be considered however as it is noted that 81% of Millennials share information about their job, compared to 72% of Generation Z and a mere 47% of Baby Boomers. 

That said, according to LinkedIn the employees of a company tend to have 10 times more followers than the company itself! In addition, while only about 2% of employees reshare posts generated by the company, they are responsible for 20% of the overall company engagement.

Brand advocacy is a cornerstone for brand success and no, this is one time where the saying “Any publicity is good publicity” is invalid, as a brand ambassador if not happy, can ambush your brand as they have the power to make or break your company’s reputation.

Give them something good to talk about, enthuse over and promote, and watch your brand reach new heights through an army of unpaid ‘staff’!

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