The Life Cycle of the Brand Advocate
Developing a dynamic action plan that optimizes marketplace opportunity is a top priority for any business owner. Implementing this plan most often translates to creative tactical strategies that competitively position a product or service for conversion. With more and more consumers relying on social media to drive their purchasing habits, the endorsement of a qualified brand advocate continues to be one of the most direct ways to trigger consistent buyer response.
Most marketing research begins here:
- Who is our ideal client?
- What are they seeking online?
- When are they online?
- What devices do they use?
- Where do they access content?
- How do they access content?
Once you have a solid understanding of where and how to access your customer base online, appropriate strategies are implemented to capture their attention and convert. What happens next?
Developing a Brand Advocate
The relationship with your brand advocates begins with the very first point of contact. Before they are even a customer, you have the opportunity to set the stage for excellence. Developing brand advocates is not a strategy that commences after the first purchase, but rather begins at the moment they show even the slightest interest.
Consider asking yourself these questions:
- How accessible and responsive is our company on social media?
- How easy is it to purchase our product/service?
- Are there any potential roadblocks in the buyer cycle?
- How can we make the client experience outstanding from start to finish?
- Are we intimately aware of how our clients feel at every step of the conversion process?
- How do we show gratitude to our customers?
- How can we treat our audience better than our competitors do?
Gathering the answers to these questions requires an authentic attitude that is passionately committed to meeting a defined need in the marketplace. When was the last time you audited your social media matrix for heart, passion and purpose?
It would stand to reason that a business’ expectation (read: hope) is for brand advocates to passionately drive conversions with a purposeful heart. Developing and sustaining that type of forward momentum means setting an example that everyone else can follow.
Brand advocacy doesn’t begin with your customers, it begins with you. Consider adjusting your mindset to prioritize brand advocacy above sales dollars. Your ultimate goal with every conversion is not to turn a profit. That’s just a blip on the radar…a finite moment…a sales transaction. It comes and it goes.
Your ultimate goal with every conversion is to create a loyal brand advocate.
Engage to Learn, Not to Teach
Tony Vincent had wise words to say on the subject of good business.
“Surround yourself with people you can always learn something from. Always work with people that are better at their craft than you are.”
Social media has blown open powerful knowledge networks, giving global access to expertise and creative information that was previously out of reach. Brand advocates are drawn to humility and genuine interest. We forge long-term advocacy by actively listening and applying the insight our customers share online every day.
When was the last time you:
- asked your customers for candid feedback on their buying experience?
- asked your audience which product features were most important to them?
- considered active influencers for beta testing or focus groups?
- asked your customers what you can do better?
Strive for Community, Not for Networking
Tim McDonald describes the genesis of a network as the moment when someone makes a request, but that communities are fundamentally built with purpose and passion. I firmly agree and have experienced the value of community in my own life in so many different ways.
Curatti rests firmly on its “for the people, by the people” mission:
- honest engagement and constructive dialogue
- probing interest with responsive results
- collective sharing of creative ideas
- promotion of the victories and talents of others
In the deliberate absence of a sales pitch, mutually beneficial engagement thrives and advocacies bloom organically.
Technology will come and go, social media platforms will continue to evolve, but rock solid brand advocates grounded in shared purpose and genuine passion will follow you anywhere!
Keeping a Brand Advocate
When a brand advocate is born, your job is not complete. In fact, it’s only just begun. As advocates diligently endorse your product and deliver conversions straight to your doorstep, it’s up to you to continue to deliver on your promises to stay active and relevant in their online conversation. Practicing agility in all facets of your business allows you to pivot quickly to keep brand advocates interested and engaged.
Keeping your brand advocates becomes your number one priority. Amplify the true power of social media by exchanging ideas that:
- maintain an open state of discovery.
- avoid rigidity and social media stagnation.
- encourage a “think tank” mentality.
- champion freedom of speech.
- add value and show gratitude.
The Attitude Audit
Honest assessment is crucial to both developing and keeping brand advocates that will continually entice new buyers and spark new conversion opportunities. Maintaining a perpetual state of inflection allows businesses to spot weaknesses and quickly adjust. The burden of consistently effective social media can weigh heavily on the internal teams that work tirelessly to stay fresh and relevant. Remember to gauge passion and purpose regularly to be sure your online “voice” is in tact.
Healthy questions probe for areas ripe for improvement:
- Has our online “voice” altered over time? Have we veered off course anywhere?
- Are our brand advocates consistently responding to our online efforts?
- Looking at our recent engagements, would we endorse our brand if we didn’t work here?
- Has our competition adjusted their market strategy in any way?
- Have there been any new pain points introduced that we’ve overlooked in our product roadmap?
- Have we received any complaints? Made any errors?
- What can we do better?
Consider creative approaches to social media marketing to stay lively online:
- Regularly rotate social media managers to bring fresh eyes to daily engagement strategies.
- Implement a company-wide plan to joyfully share, promote and communicate with prospects, customers and brand advocates.
- Intimately engage brand advocates by requesting partnership in developing new case studies.
Remember, the agile business owner is always on alert for ways to improve and new avenues to explore. Your brand advocates will often be the first ones to bring attention to your next big success, or may even drop hints that prevent a corporate crisis coming just around the bend. Giving your advocates a clear path to project their voice is critical. Actively listening to and applying what you learn is paramount. Brand advocates are your eyes, your ears and if you’ve done your homework, your heart. Keep the passion and purpose alive under their diligent watch and your business will surely flourish.
Image attribution: (multiple sources found, original unknown) http://www.whandassociates.com/b2b-online-reputation-management-why-its-important/
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