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By Mark Brinn
This chapter guides you through the process of converting satisfied customers into enthusiastic brand ambassadors. Learn how to foster a culture of advocacy through community-building efforts, how to appreciate and recognize your advocates, and how to encourage user-generated content. Get ready to turbocharge your brand's reputation through the power of positive word-of-mouth.

Brand Advocacy

In the world of branding, there’s a secret weapon that’s more powerful than any marketing campaign or advertising budget. It’s the power of customer advocacy. When your customers become your biggest fans, they do more than just buy your products or services. They talk about you. They recommend you. They become your advocates.

The Power of Word-of-Mouth

You’re at a party, and someone you respect is raving about this new product they’ve discovered. They’re passionate, they’re excited, and they can’t stop talking about how this thing has changed their life. That’s potent stuff. That’s word-of-mouth marketing in action, and it comes from brand advocates.

<People talking at a party>

Building a Community of Advocates

Turning customers into advocates isn’t an overnight process. It’s about building relationships. It’s about making your customers feel valued and appreciated. It’s about creating a community around your brand. And that takes time, patience, and dedication.

Loyalty and Referral Programs

One effective strategy to encourage advocacy is through loyalty and referral programs. These initiatives are designed to reward customers for their loyalty and for spreading the word about your brand.

  • Loyalty Programs: These are rewards programs that incentivize repeat business. The more a customer purchases, the more rewards they earn. It’s a win-win situation. The customer feels appreciated and the business increases its sales.
  • Referral Programs: These programs reward customers for bringing in new customers. It’s a powerful way to spread the word about your brand and to build a community of advocates.

<A happy customer receiving a reward for their loyalty. The customer is holding a reward card that is full of stamps, indicating they’ve made multiple purchases.>

Community-Building Efforts

Another important aspect of turning customers into advocates is community-building. This involves creating a space where your customers can connect with each other and with your brand. This could be an online forum, a social media group, or even a physical meetup.

The key here is to create a sense of belonging. When customers feel like they’re part of a community, they’re more likely to become advocates for your brand.

<An image of a diverse group of people at a branded convention.>

Recognizing and Appreciating Brand Advocates

Recognition and appreciation are crucial in fostering a culture of advocacy. When your customers feel seen and appreciated, they’re more likely to continue supporting your brand and to encourage others to do the same.

This could be as simple as a thank you note, a shout out on social media, or a special discount. The point is to show your customers that you value their support and that you don’t take it for granted.

<An image of a customer opening a thank you note from a brand. The customer is smiling, clearly touched by the gesture.>

Maintaining a Positive Cycle of Advocacy

Once you’ve turned a customer into an advocate, the work isn’t over. It’s important to maintain a positive cycle of advocacy. This means continually engaging with your advocates, recognizing their efforts, and rewarding their loyalty.

Remember, advocacy isn’t a one-time thing. It’s an ongoing relationship. And like any relationship, it requires care and attention.

Encouraging User-Generated Content

What really makes your brand feel alive are the people who use and talk about it – your customers. Their stories and conversations about your brand are really important. This is what we call “user-generated content” – or UGC, and it’s a huge part of building an engaging community around your brand.

UGC is content created by your customers, about your brand. It could be a tweet, a blog post, a video, a review, or even a simple comment. It’s raw, it’s authentic, and it’s powerful.

Sparking the Conversation

Creating opportunities for UGC is like throwing a party. You set the stage, provide the props, and invite the guests. But ultimately, it’s the guests who bring the party to life.

Contests

Everyone loves a good competition. Run a contest where customers can submit their own designs, ideas, or stories. Make sure to offer a reward that’s worth the effort.

<A Winning Cup design next to a white Starbucks cup>

Starbucks’ White Cup Contest: In 2014, Starbucks ran a contest where customers were asked to doodle on their white cups and submit pictures as entries. The winning design was printed on a limited edition Starbucks cup.

Customer Stories

Encourage your customers to share their experiences with your brand. It could be how they used your product, a problem they solved, or a goal they achieved.

<Screenshot from the LidFlip Challenge>

Chipotle’s #ChipotleLidFlip Challenge: Chipotle ran a successful campaign on TikTok where it challenged users to flip a Chipotle bowl lid and land it perfectly on the bowl. This campaign led to a massive amount of user-generated content, with customers sharing their attempts (both successful and unsuccessful) to complete the challenge.

Hashtags

Create a unique hashtag for your brand or campaign. Encourage customers to use it when they post about your brand. This creates a virtual community where customers can connect and share their experiences.

<A group of friends sharing a coke>

Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke Campaign: The #ShareACoke campaign started in 2011, encouraging people to share a Coke with someone and share their experiences on social media with the hashtag. The campaign became hugely successful, with thousands of people sharing their stories and experiences of sharing a Coke.

<An image of a cluster of speech bubbles, each containing a different social media post. All posts include the same hashtag.>

Remember, the goal is to get people talking. The more they talk, the more they engage. And the more they engage, the more they become advocates for your brand. It’s a cycle – Engagement, Recognition, Reward, Repeat.

Every customer has a voice. And when those voices come together, they create a chorus that can amplify your brand’s message and reach.

Case Study: GoPro

Consider GoPro, a brand that’s done a stellar job of turning their customers into advocates. They’ve built a community around their product and have used user-generated content to fuel their marketing efforts.

The Power of User-Generated Content

GoPro cameras are all about capturing life’s adventures. So, who better to showcase what these cameras can do than the adventurers themselves? GoPro’s customers capture their exploits and share them with the world, creating a stream of authentic, engaging content that GoPro can leverage in their marketing.

<Series of videos: a surfer riding a towering wave, a mountain biker navigating a treacherous trail, a skydiver free-falling through the sky. Each video is raw, real, and captured by a GoPro camera.>

Building a Community

But GoPro doesn’t just use this content – they celebrate it. They regularly share their customers’ videos on their social media platforms, turning their customers into stars and creating a community of GoPro enthusiasts. This isn’t just about showing off their cameras’ capabilities – it’s about building relationships with their customers and making them feel valued.

<Social media feed filled with GoPro videos. Each post is accompanied by a shout-out to the customer who captured the footage. The comments are filled with praise, both for the adventurers and for the GoPro cameras that captured their exploits.>

Encouraging Advocacy

And the result? These customers become advocates for the GoPro brand. They share their videos, they engage with GoPro’s social media posts, and they spread the word about the brand to their own followers. They’re not just customers – they’re part of the GoPro community, and they’re invested in the brand’s success.

<Videographer proudly showing off a GoPro camera>

This is how you turn customers into advocates. It’s not just about selling a product – it’s about creating a community and making your customers feel like they’re part of something bigger. That’s how you build a brand that resonates – a brand that lasts.

The Power of Advocacy

As we’ve discussed in this chapter, turning customers into brand advocates can be a game-changer for your business. Advocates don’t just buy your products; they believe in your brand and actively promote it to others. They are your allies, your cheerleaders, and your free marketers. They help shape your brand’s reputation and extend its reach far beyond your immediate audience.

But turning customers into advocates is just one part of the journey. The world is constantly changing, and so are your customers’ needs and expectations. How do you stay relevant in such an ever-evolving landscape?

That’s what we’re going to explore in the next chapter: Maintain. We’ll look at strategies to stay current while maintaining a consistent brand image. We’ll discuss continuous improvement, innovation, and adaptation.

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