A few years back, influencer marketing was an up-and-coming modality that was setting the industry ablaze. Today, the phrases “advocacy marketing” or “advocate marketing” are beginning to flood the internet in the same fashion that influencer marketing once did.
The reason these buzzwords are cropping up all over the web is because advocacy marketing is a powerful new way to drive significant results. Advocate marketing is no flash in the pan or passing trend, either. This marketing tactic has the potential to become one of the most universally lauded and leveraged modalities because of who it leverages and how.
Advocate marketing is all about your customers. These are the superstars of your content, campaigns, and growth. Advocacy marketing works by engaging your most loyal of followers and leveraging these supporters, or “advocates”, to help spread your business through word-of-mouth advertising. And word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of promotion there is.
As it stands, 92% of consumers trust the recommendations of other individuals, even if they don’t know them personally. This is part of why consumer reviews are so critical. And in the age of social media, word-of-mouth praise can travel further than ever before. Hence why advocate marketing is becoming so important.
But it’s not just the peer-to-peer influence that advocate marketing can breathe new life into; it can generate compelling new content, bring brand loyalty to astonishing new heights, and help you build a full-fledged community around your brand.
If you are finding your interest piqued by the potential benefits this form of marketing can bring, then read on. Regardless if you are B2B or B2C, this is how you can establish your own community of brand advocates.
Truth be told, assembling a community of brand advocates is not rocket science and can even be fairly simple. Start by compiling a list a customers from your CRM and email them with the simple ask of posting an online review or referring someone they know to your company. Once they have completed said task, recognize their service and send them a gift card, a free product, or even just a heartfelt email thanking them.
Once you run through your list, however, you cannot continue to spam the same group of people. They will get tired of your requests and burnt out on your brand. This is why building an all-out community is necessary.
A Company Congregation
In order for advocacy marketing to provide you more than a few referrals and a handful of reviews, it is pertinent to build a community of advocates. The first step in building this digital colony relies on setting goals. Without the proper objectives and milestones in place, your program will be no more than the blind leading the blind. Establish the goals you wish to achieve through an advocacy program and align these with your business’s overall ambitions.
The next step is arguably the most important aspect of advocate marketing – get intimate with your audience. Your advocates will not take action unless your company compels them to. In order to be compelling, you must know your advocates inside and out; where they work, their interests, pain points, hobbies, hopes, dreams, and so forth. As with any marketing campaign, your message will never land if you don’t know the audience you are aiming for.
While knowing your advocates is massively important, so are the tasks or challenges that you send them. If you continually send requests to refer people or share your latest blog post, people will lose interest – fast. Keep folks entertained; send out quizzes, quirky assignments, games, and other materials that will keep advocates entertained and intrigued. Gamification is a powerful motivational tool; you can establish a points systems with leaderboards so that there is a competitive element to your community. Make them smile, laugh, and most importantly, want to engage with what you are sending out. You want folks to look forward to your emails.
As the community grows, remember that this is not an isolated following; engage other teams within your company as they can benefit just as much. Advocates can provide insights to your content and marketing teams, beta testers for product development, feedback for customer service, new leads for sales, and can help virtually support any other team within your organization. Be sure to also educate all involved teams so that they can have a clear understanding of how advocates can be leveraged.
At a certain point, you will need to build a dedicated location for your advocates to convene. Establishing a central advocate “hangout” gives these folks a sense of community, allows them to engage with each other, lets them swap ideas and stories, and enables a deeper sense of connection, making the community even stronger and more valuable.
In many ways, advocacy marketing is the future of marketing itself. The internet and social media has taken the power out of the hands of advertisers and placed it squarely in those of the consumer. Advocate marketing plays into that dynamic and amplifies the messages that your customers are already sharing. If you want your marketing dollars to go further than ever, and your brand loyalty to run deeper than you ever thought possible, it’s time to enter into the arena of advocacy marketing.
About The Author
Conscious online marketer, Web executive, and multi-faceted writer, Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Learn more here.