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How To Build Brand Advocates

Brand advocates are among the most persuasive assets in a marketing team’s arsenal. This valuable group consists of delighted customers who help generate sales by providing testimonials, referrals, participating in case studies, and sharing your brand via word of mouth.

Many surveys show independent voices do more to sway opinions than native marketing messages. A study by B2B Marketing Trends Report found customer testimonials are considered the most effective content marketing tactic for B2B marketers. 

Messages provided by brand advocates are powerful marketing tools.

A report by Demand Gen Report showed 97% of B2B buyers found user-generated content was more credible than other types of content. This statistic validates the power and influence testimonials, YouTube video reviews, and other customer messages can have on new customers. 

The numbers are just as compelling for B2C marketing. Vendasta reported that 92% of consumers read online reviews and testimonials when considering a purchase. Research by Wyzowl showed 95% of people say reviews—whether positive or negative—influence their purchasing decisions.

The data is clear; messages provided by brand advocates are powerful marketing tools. The question isn’t if you should utilize them, but how can your organization create and leverage more of these loyal influencers?  

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Create a Repeatable Positive Customer Experience

Brand advocates are built over time. A single positive engagement with a customer might create a fan for life. Advocates, though, are usually made through multiple positive engagements. Your sales team needs to generate repeated purchases/engagements with each customer. 

It’s essential these interactions are positive and deliver an exceptional customer experience. When ON24 asked a group of “top” marketers to rate their customer experience, 58% stated it was “excellent.” Compare that to just 27% percent among “mainstream” marketers. 

The more a customer positively interacts with your products and services, the more they will come to know, trust, and rely upon them. How many engagements do you need to create? According to a survey from Yotpo, 37% of consumers say it takes five or more purchases to consider themselves loyal to a brand. That’s a lot, and you’ll need a strategy to achieve it. 

One way companies create repeated purchases is through the adoption of a loyalty program. It establishes a framework for multiple interactions, long-term use, and ultimately, the creation of brand advocates. 

Reward Brand Evangelism

Many companies offer referral programs for their biggest advocates. It’s a simple way to reward them for bringing new business opportunities to your sales team. The nuts and bolts of a referral program will vary for each organization and service line, but they can include:

  • Discounted rates
  • Free products/services
  • Cash rewards
  • Preferred customer status
  • Outings, trips, and other prizes

A referral program says we appreciate what you’re doing for our business and want to share our success. That can be a significant step in transforming customers into affiliated team members/advocates. 

Provide Unexpected Moments

Beyond a formalized referral program, organizations should find ways to delight and surprise their best customers and biggest advocates. You can accomplish this by:

  • Sending kind notes of appreciation.
  • Inviting them to VIP events.
  • Giving them first access to new products.
  • Offering exclusive previews to upcoming launches.
  • Creating moments that say, “you are important to us.” 

The more your company makes someone feel appreciated, the harder they will work on your behalf. 

Identify Your Brand Promoters

We’ve shared a few ways to build brand advocates, but how can you easily identify the likely candidates in the first place? Not everyone who interacts with your organization will become a brand advocate. Even those that are pleased with the experience may not feel compelled to promote your brand. 

Who are your promoters, and how do you find them? We have a great tip. 

Advocates are usually made through multiple positive engagements.

Generating a Net Promoter Score (NPS) will help you sift through the possibilities. An NPS is based on one simple question; “how likely are you to recommend our company, product, or service to a friend or colleague.” Customers are requested to gauge their response from 0 to 10. Those who score your organization 9 or 10 are considered “promoters.” You should consider the promoters to be your most likely pool of potential brand advocate candidates. 

Once you’ve identified some possibilities, it’s time to reach out to them. Try starting by asking for testimonials and reviews. 

Ask for Testimonials and Reviews

An NPS is a great starting point. We also suggest asking your customers to provide testimonials, reviews, ratings, and other feedback. It’s surprising how often we come across new clients with no outside endorsements of their work/services/products. Why? Typically it’s because no one asked. When the project or deal was completed, the company moved on with the next opportunity. 

Taking a moment to ask for testimonials and reviews will be a game-changer. It will help your organization in two ways.

First and foremost, asking will generate concrete, attributed, third-party content you can share in marketing tools like a website or landing page. The moment someone gives you a positive testimonial, they have become a de-facto brand advocate you can utilize. 

Secondly, it’s another way to engage with your customers. Creating interactions fosters brand advocate relationships. Like a high NPS score, a compelling testimony or 5-star review is a customer’s way of saying “I love you.”

Asking for testimonials and reviews opens the door to forging more substantial relationships that can be leveraged to grow sales.

Start Benefiting From Brand Advocates

Can you identify your organization’s brand advocates? Are you fostering these relationships? Do you engage with your brand advocates regularly and reward their efforts? Or, are you still waiting to tap into this potent opportunity?

Whatever your situation, Olive & Company can play a role in improving it. We can work with you to extract greater value from your existing brand advocates. We can also help identify potential advocates using an NPS.

If you are interested in getting started, let’s connect.

Dave Hruby

Dave Hruby is brand strategist, writer, thinker, maker, and doer that challenges the status quo, shares wisdom freely, and happily asks tough questions to arrive at better than expected outcomes.