Is your company considering a brand advocate program? Brand advocates are usually customers or employees who genuinely like your products and are happy to promote them. By mobilizing this naturally supportive group of advocates, you can boost brand awareness, engage with new customers, and drive sales.
To learn more about a brand advocate program, let’s define it, explore its benefits, and look at companies that have the best brand advocate programs in place.
What’s a brand advocate program?
A brand advocate program is a strategic method of incentivizing customers to promote your brand. Advocates typically support the brand and endorse products in exchange for special perks. These might include anything from free products or discounts to event invitations or product personalizations.
While any company can mobilize loyal customers, a brand advocate program is a structured effort to leverage advocates on a regular, consistent basis as opposed to one-off campaigns.
What are the benefits of a brand advocate program?
A brand advocate program helps your marketing team connect with customers on a personal level. Advocates are usually customers, so their endorsement of a product feels more like a recommendation to a friend than an advertisement. In addition to providing an organic sales pitch, advocate programs can also:
Create a community
With a team of advocates promoting your brand, you can build a digital community that’s continuously talking about your products.
Drive brand loyalty
By working with advocates, your brand showcases the importance of loyalty. Customers want to buy from companies that see them as human beings as opposed to sales. Creating a sense of community around your brand attracts and retains customers, which is always good for your campaigns.
Drive social engagement
Brand advocates are often on social media recommending products or participating in brand-driven contests. Each post drives engagement and gets more people involved in a conversation about the brand and its products.
Customers often take the advice of their peers, so when an advocate promotes a product, he or she is inclined to buy it. An authentic sales pitch has real buying power and shouldn’t be overlooked by your marketing team.
Best brand advocate programs to use as inspiration
A number of brands have launched customer advocate programs. As the name suggests, brand advocates advocate for or promote the brand in some way. They are usually asked to participate in specific marketing efforts.
Advocates might asked to:
- Share endorsements or reviews on social
- Participate in a UGC campaign or contest
- Provide testimonials
- Refer friends
- Serve as a reference
To see how these efforts are implemented within a brand advocacy program, here’s a look at several brands that have a structured brand advocacy program that you can learn from:
Adidas Creator’s Club rewards its advocates for completing a series of different actions. From buying products and referring friends to attending events and generating UGC, advocates earn rewards for each of their efforts.
While you might assume the rewards system is packed with freebies, it revolves more around exclusive access, like getting early access to a new product or being invited to a meet-and-greet.
Takeaway: You can incentivize brand advocates to promote your products without offering tons of free merchandise.
Luxury online jeweler Monica Vinader has a brand advocacy program that lets customers earn points for things like making purchases and following the brand on social media. Advocates create accounts, track their points, and turn them in for exclusive products or experiences.
Takeaway: You can create a program that lets advocates pick their involvement and the rewards they want.
Tesla created a referral program around its advocates. If an advocate referred a friend, both received $1,000 toward a car. If advocates referred ten customers, they earned access to buy a special edition car that wasn’t released to the public. The brand changes the incentives regularly, with a recent reward towards a solar roof.
Takeaway: Referral marketing and brand advocacy can complement each other.
Apple asked its advocates to help promote the camera on a recently-released iPhone. It asked customers to snap pictures and share them on Apple’s social channels using #ShotOniPhone. The campaign generated hundreds of photos and flooded social streams with authentic promotions for the new phone. Seventy-seven winners were selected, but Apple was the real winner, generating a stream of free publicity across social media.
Takeaway: Brand advocates can create professional-looking content for your brand.
Brand advocate programs can add to a brand’s marketing efforts and are often an affordable way to promote products and reward customer loyalty. If your company is considering a brand advocate program, draw from these real-life examples to get your program up and running.