Put your customers to work for you: Create Brand Advocates

To create a true advocate you need to move your customer from awareness, past engagement to the ultimate goal of advocacy”

The white noise of the media landscape is becoming ever stronger. It is becoming harder to break through all the information and get your voice heard. Marketing advocates partner your brand with influencers or thought leaders; a group of people Malcolm Gladwell labels as “Mavens” in his book The Tipping Point. Mavens can break through the cold media landscape barrier and reach a vast audience. Mavens are also people, and are thusly considered more trustworthy than ads, spokespersons, or sponsored content. Utilizing Mavens is an incredible benefit as compared to other public relations avenues. Mavens create content, they love and support your brand, and want to share it with their entire community.

But advocates are not that easy to reach because they are vastly outnumbered by passive and semi passive audiences. In their book Groundswell, Li and Bernoff point out that of your average audience, 1% of the population creates content, 9% engage, and 90% will just browse. You need to find that 1% and turn them into advocates for your brand.

To create a true advocate you need to move your customer from awareness, past engagement to the ultimate goal of advocacy. Here is brief outline of the steps:


Awareness: At the awareness stage, a potential customer has heard about your product, usually as a result of word of mouth or advertising. They are receptive to more information about your brand, and will instinctively connect the dots when they see your outlet, see a social media post etc. Therefore, marketing strategy needs to find a way to reach out to people who are already aware so they will move to consideration. At the consideration point a brand becomes a genuine option, and is weighted against the competition. The consumer will possibly use reviews and social media to see if they want to buy your product.

Participation: At participation a consumer will buy the product. At this point, post-purchase efforts become very important. The customer needs to feel reassured about the purchase. The service and quality of the product needs to meet expectations, and a strategy of reaching out to ask the consumer about his or her experience can make a big difference. At the participation stage, the consumer still has minimal engagement with the brand.

Engagement: To move from participation to engagement the customer needs to develop loyalty to the brand. Through great service, quality, loyalty programs and engagement efforts by the brand the consumer will form a bond to the brand. At this point, an engaged consumer will usually be a fan of your social media profiles and willingly share your content on social media. Brand loyalty is far more common then brand advocacy, so strategists need to ask what will cause a person to take the next step and form a community around the brand – what are the ideal motivations and incentives?

Advocacy: The loyal, engaged consumer becomes a brand advocate. They give unsolicited advice to others that people non-familiar with the brand use your business. They create content about your business and share it with their community. Many brands provide spaces to facilitate conversations about the brand; however, to gain true advocacy, a brand will engage the Mavens through active conversations. After attaining have Mavens, be sure to retain them! Let them know that they’re important to the brand, reward them for their efforts and treat them like brand insiders.

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