Brand Advocacy is a Marketing Management and Sales Strategy developed by Richard Lazarus and Robert Kaplan. The Brand Advocacy program is a powerful, new way of building consumer loyalty and trust in the brands they choose to buy. This approach promotes engagement rather than self-interest among customers. According to the authors:
“What’s happening now is that customers are choosing not to shop at all if a brand isn’t ‘in’ – or if it’s being run in an increasingly shallow fashion by someone who barely knows their own company.” Many of today’s top companies have come to realize that their success comes from a comprehensive Brand Advocacy Program. In fact, many organizations now view customer loyalty as a primary indicator of success. As such, they have devoted considerable resources to educating and engaging customers on all of their brand values and vision.
In many ways, this is much more complex than simply positioning a brand in the marketplace. It’s important to understand the brand advocates mindset. According to Richard Lazarus and Robert Kaplan, the brand advocates are the group of people responsible for bringing a product or service to the public. These advocates are the voices and representatives within the organization who ensure that the company is communicating its message to the right people at the right time and in the right way. They are often the creative force behind the branding efforts -they can make or break a campaign.
Brand advocates want to be included in the dialogue about the direction a company is moving. This is why they participate in meetings and conferences on various aspects of the brand. They speak out about what they feel about the brand. They write articles and blog about it.
Brand advocates want to win for several reasons. First of all, winning is what makes a brand successful. When advocates speak out about a brand, others are likely to follow suit. If enough people are speaking positively about a brand, then a company stands to benefit from word-of-mouth advertising. Brands also tend to make better employees.
Brand advocacy programs give companies a way to set themselves apart from the pack. In order to be recognized as an expert in their field, advocates need to share their knowledge with others. With every post they make on blogs and articles online, they create backlinks to their sites, which helps them climb higher in search engine rankings.
Brand advocates work with other experts to help strengthen a brand’s cause. For instance, one advocate might work with lawyers to strengthen a brand. Legal experts know how to build a strong case for a client, and advocates can use that expertise when speaking with the press and media about a brand.
If you own or manage a company, you have the opportunity to participate in a brand advocacy program. The success of your brand speaks for itself. Making sure that your brand is seen as the expert it is should be your number one priority. Participating in a community-driven campaign to raise awareness about your brand will not only benefit your company and increase your visibility, but it could just inspire other companies to take a similar stance.
You may want to do a brand advocacy campaign yourself. There are many tools available to help get the word out about your brand. Make sure that your brochures and online advertisements highlight your positive attributes rather than negative ones. When using social media platforms to spread the word, be sure to update your posts regularly to engage your followers and encourage them to pass the word.
Brand advocacy doesn’t have to be limited to physical spaces. In fact, it can help you spread the word around even further. Have you considered hosting a community fair? An event such as this allows advocates from around the city to come together and create positive buzz about your brand. Brand supporters will come out to your event and tell their friends about the great work that your company has done for them.
As you can see, there are countless ways that your company can participate in a brand advocacy program. If you aren’t yet prepared to take the steps needed, then start off by contacting your local chamber of commerce or other business groups to see what they offer in terms of assistance. Once you begin building your list of advocates, keep in mind that it won’t be long before other businesses in your industry are calling upon you for help. So stay proactive by making your advocates want to work with you.