brand marketing

Top 10 Beliefs of Brand Advocacy Visionaries

It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it. This is the mantra that leadership expert Simon Sinek has been spreading since 2009 when he released his book, “Start With Why.” Simon inspires business leaders to hire, sell to, and work with people who believe in what your business stands for, not what you sell. (If you haven’t watched his TedX talk yet, watch it now. It’s incredibly powerful.)

The concept of brand advocacy is heating up in social marketing arena. There are plenty of early adopters that have already implemented advocacy programs for their organizations. At Zuberance, brand advocacy is in our DNA. It's our religion. It's what we believe in. Here’s why we, and fellow marketing revolutionaries, believe in brand advocacy:

1. Creating and leveraging Advocates should be the #1 mission for every company. Marketing is no longer about impressions and clicks. It’s about building a movement around your brand and company, spearheaded by your Advocates. In short, advocacy is strategic.

2. People trust Advocates, not ads. Ninety-two percent of people trust Word of Mouth. Only 53% trust companies’ websites and 33% trust online ads, says Nielsen. What customers say about you is much more important and influential than what you say about yourself.

3. Advocates are different than fans and followers. Most people like or follow a brand to get discounts or freebies, studies show. Advocates recommend because they want to help others, not because they’re getting coupons, cash, or points. Advocates are your most engaged, enthusiastic, and loyal customers.

4. Advocates are a large segment of your customer base. On average about 50 percent of customers are potential Advocates, according to research by Zuberance and others. If your company has one million end users, you may have 500,000 potential Advocates, a large, highly influential, and under-leveraged marketing force.

5. Advocates are your most valuable customers. Advocates are even more valuable than loyal customers. Many frequent fliers don’t recommend the airlines they fly. Advocates, on the other hand, boost your sales, help you keep customers, and defend your cherished brand reputation.

6. Advocate marketing should be authentic. True advocacy cannot be paid for or manufactured. It can only be earned. In fact, studies show paying people for recommendations actually decreases the likelihood that prospects will buy.

7. Advocates are more influential than “Influencers.” Influencers (professional bloggers, media, industry analysts, celebrities) have large audiences. But only 22% of people trust bloggers compared to 92% for Word of Mouth, says Nielsen.  A positive blog post may cause a temporary spike in awareness or social chatter, but nothing is more influential, trusted, or lasting than authentic advocacy.

8. Advocate Marketing is more cost-effective than traditional marketing. Traditional online marketing programs generate less than 1% conversions. On average, Zuberance Advocate Marketing programs deliver 10% or higher conversion rates. A company could fund an ongoing Advocate Marketing program for an entire year for about the cost of two full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal.

9. Advocate Marketing should be an ongoing program. Advocate marketing isn’t a short-term promotion or campaign. Most marketers would never abandon efforts to build and cultivate relationships with influencers after a few weeks or months. The same should apply to Advocates.

10. Advocate Marketing is not only for “passion brands.” Advocate marketing programs are delivering compelling results in low-passion categories like anti-virus software, windshield repair services, file transfer and collaboration services, and more. Every company has Advocates. The key is making it easy for Advocates to recommend your company, brand, and products.

Are you a believer in the power of advocacy? If so, share your thoughts here.

Google+: A Platform, Not The Message

Google+ is here -- what do you need to change about your brand message to leverage this new tool? Nothing!

Now more than ever, your brand message needs to remain strong and consistent, and your focus needs to stay on building relationships.   Don’t let new tools (like Google+) distract you from your brand message!  As I continue to say, successful social media marketing is all about relationships, and the tools simply facilitate those relationships. Without the people and connections, the tools are meaningless.

I am not, however, suggesting that you ignore Google+, because it does have the potential to be a powerful social media marketing tool.  Make sure someone on your marketing team learns the intricacies of Google+ ... and by all means integrate this new platform into your social media marketing strategy in whatever way serves your brand message and your company goals.  There is an amazing opportunity for brands to build interactive two way engagement, interaction, and sharing within this platform, but consumers will have to adopt it to make worthwhile and only time will answer that question.

My main point here is a caution not to let the Google+ fervor take your focus away from your current consumer relationships.  You still need to offer your consumers consistent value through your products, services, and content, and you still need to engage with them through their current platforms, even as you may be looking to expand to Google+.

Your consumer/brand relationships are the fuel that make each platform work, so don’t neglect them when a new promising platform shows up.  You can actually turn this into a two-way beneficial conversation by asking your consumers what they think about the new platform, and asking them for ideas about how your brand could effectively use the new platform in a way that works for them.   This is a perfect chance to tap into consumer insights and show them you value their opinions.

Bottom line: new and old platforms will come and go... it is your message and strategy that count, so make sure they are clear, strong and consistent!

-Ted Rubin, Social Strategist