Most people would agree with this statement:
“Word of Mouth is the best form of advertising.”
You may see or hear hundreds or thousands of ads for a brand or product. Most of these ads never even register with you.
But if a friend recommends a brand or product, people listen, remember, and buy.
92% of people trust Word of Mouth (WOM) over any form of advertising (source: Nielsen.)
People are 4X more likely to buy a product when a friend recommends it to them (source: Nielsen)
What is Advocate Marketing?
Advocate marketing (“Word of Mouth marketing”) is a marketing approach that gets your highly-satisfied customers (“Advocates”) plus others to spread positive WOM about your brand and products.
Advocate marketing works well for consumer and business brands and products. In fact, customer advocacy programs are very popular in B2B companies.
Four Ways to Leverage Advocates
Don’t limit your advocacy program to referrals only. You get much more impact and value when you enable and encourage Advocates to spread positive WOM in multiple ways like these:
Create original content (AKA “UGC”) like positive reviews, stories, testimonials, videos, etc. and post this UGC on their social channels (like their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
Share brand content like your videos, photos, testimonials, etc. on Advocates’ social channels
Tell friends about your promotional offers like Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals; holiday offers like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day; plus many other promo offers
Refer friends to purchase your products, get a free trial, subscribe, download or take other actions that help you build your sales funnel and drive revenues
Best Way to do Advocate Marketing
The best way to do Advocate marketing is via an ongoing Advocate marketing program, not a one-off campaign.
An ongoing Advocate marketing program enables you to leverage Advocates in all of the ways above (see 1-4) vs. limiting yourself to one activity.
Plus, you can learn who your Advocates are and build relationships with these VIP customers.
The best way to do an ongoing Advocate marketing program is via an Advocate hub.
An Advocate Hub is a private, by-invitation-only website for Advocates. (No haters, competitors, or evil doers allowed.)
On the Advocate Hub, Advocates learn about and participate in “challenges” — actions you’d like Advocates to complete.
This includes all of the activities above (again, see 1-4) plus other things like answer surveys, provide product feedback and ideas, etc.
When Advocates complete challenges, they earn points that can be redeemed for rewards.
Plus, they can earn badges, get on a Leader Board, and achieve status within the Advocate group.
This helps boost challenge participation and ongoing engagement.
Advocate marketing Benefits
Here are the three biggest benefits:
Increased awareness. Getting Advocates to spread positive WOM is a very effective, inexpensive way to boost awareness of your brand and products. The average social media user has a total of over 1,000 friends and followers on their social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) If you have 1,000 Advocates sharing on their social, you can reach 1 million people.
Lots of valuable UGC. A key part of Advocate marketing programs is user-generated content: stories, reviews, videos, photos, and more. Most brands struggle with creating compelling content. Your Advocates will help solve this problem for you. They’ll create fabulous content at a tiny fraction of the price you’d pay to social influencers or for professional video shoots.
Increased sales activity. An Advocate marketing program can help you generate highly-qualified referral leads, prospect traffic to your website and landing pages, and actual purchases.
Many factors determine how much sales you get from an Advocate marketing programs. These factors include how large your Advocate group is; how compelling your products and promotional offers are; how compelling the rewards are that you offer Advocates for helping bring in new customers.
Like almost any marketing program, it takes time, patience, and testing to get sales from an advocacy program.
Summary: Get Started Now
More than ever, your success depends not so much on what you say about your brand and products, but rather what your customers say.
If you don’t have an ongoing Advocate marketing program, you’re missing a major opportunity to build your brand and business through your best marketers and salespeople: your authentic Advocates!