How do we turn customers into brand advocates?
Brand advocacy is the sexy part of the customer journey. All brands lust for it, yet many (if not most) never manage to achieve it. While a local plumber or dog groomer may manage to get their customers to rave about their services to friends and family, even the most established brands find this to be the most challenging steps in that journey. What can you do to turn your customers into brand advocates?
1. TAP INTO THE EGO.
Which is the best luxury vehicle? Are Macs really better than PCs? Where can you get the best sushi in your town?
When people argue about these things, is it because they are passionate about that brand. While I’m sure that local French restaurant X serves great food, what makes people so passionate about it that they are willing to argue about it? It’s because that brand has tapped into their ego.
People want to be seen as knowing more about a topic than their peers — help them. Educate them about what makes your brand special. Remind them that they are better because they had the good sense to choose you. Don’t say that you use only the finest ingredients; talk about how your customers are the most discerning in Philadelphia, and demand nothing but the finest. Make your brand a part of their ego, and you will reap the benefits. The truth is that when people are going on about your brand, they’re really going on about themselves, but who cares? To everyone around them, it sounds like they’re going on about you.
2. MAKE YOUR BRAND A PART OF YOUR CUSTOMERS’ LIVES.
This was the reasoning behind Apple’s “Shot on iPhone 6” campaign. Instead of focusing on the actual product, the spots focused on what customers were doing with it. The campaign was that much more impressive than traditional campaigns since it had a sense of authenticity (more about this later on) and focused on customer needs. People do not buy smartphones; they buy a digital connection with their friends, they buy status, they buy a feeling of belonging to a group. In the case of the iPhone 6 campaign, the creative team realized that customers wanted to buy a way to document moments of their lives.
Our Staropramen social media campaign focused on encouraging customers to show us where they were enjoying Staropramen beer, and the brand became part of the memories that they were making. Customers posted photos with friends enjoying a cold beer on a summer day, a condensation-covered bottle sitting in the sun, or whatever pleasurable leisure activity they were engaging in while drinking our brand’s beer. Other than the obvious brand positioning on social media that we enjoyed, we managed to become a part of the record of their lives. When they look back at their photo stream, they will remember not only that day with their friends, but also that you were part of that day. The next time a conversation about beer pops up, Staropramen will be more than a brand to those customers; it will be an old friend.
3. LEARN FROM THE AMATEURS.
There is an entire industry of brand advocates in the form of bloggers and YouTube reviewers. The vast majority of them receive little to no compensation for their content, so it goes without saying that they create these blogs and videos out of a passion for their products of interests. One could say that they are the “Uberadvocates.”
They are viewed as a source for honest opinions on products, and can serve as case studies on your brand advocates. They will offer you insights into how your customers want to communicate, what the tone of your message should be, and what people seem to care about when discussing your brand. They will also allow you to identify competitors that are successfully converting customers into brand advocates, and learn what some of the best practices are for your specific industry.
ONE LAST REMINDER: BE AUTHENTIC
Today, people can spot a charlatan from a mile away. Your brand must feel authentic, and there should be a sense of artlessness to your message. Much of this goes back to the ego, and a desire to be in the know; no one wants to feel like they’ve been lied to, and consumers are better than ever at spotting deception. Take an interest in your customers, their lives, and how your brand can fill a role in their lives.