Discover Word-of-Mouth Power with Advocate Marketing

March 11, 2016
by Koen Stevens

Word-of-mouth marketing is still one of the most sought after but also most underused methods of reaching consumers. It is proven to be the more trustworthy and impactful form yet only a handful ofcompanies are focusing on it. 

You might be aware that your brand has fans who are passionately raving about your products, these people are called 'brand advocates'.

Integrating them in your marketing campaigns is the foundation of word-of-mouth success.

But, how do you jump start a word-of-mouth movement?

In this digital era of information overload, traditional forms of advertisement become less and less effective. Competition is fierce and companies have to find different ways to stand out amongst each other. One solution is Brand Ambassador marketing; the new gap closer between offline and online word-of-mouth promotion.

Talking about Word-of-mouth communities

In the past, a conversation about a brand was initiated by the company itself, but today this is no longer the case.

Consumers these days spend a lot of time online doing their own research. Consequently, they already form their opinion about a brand before any initial interaction.

Conversations are more frequently initiated by consumers themselves and don't follow fixed patterns.

A brand advocate identifies him- or herself with a brand and it's narrative. They are the first to review new products, check up on developments and watch your catchy ads on social networks. They enjoy seeing their favourite company in a good spotlight and this transcends into their daily lives.

The goal of advocate marketing is to increase brand awareness and sales in an authentic and credible way. It’s about building strong and sustainable relationships where your brand and ‘brand identification’ are central elements.

Today, conversations between consumers and companies start both online and offline. Maintaining a grasp over the power of word-of-mouth puts your foot in the door of both arenas.

Consumers that have an emotional connection to your company are the ones that drive your word-of-mouth marketing. For a brand, it's essential to keep this conversation going.

By creating a community where you can invite these ambassadors, you establish a relationship with them. As a result, you acquire leverage over their word-of-mouth engagement with other consumers.

Advocate marketing in the Brand Paradox


On the one hand, it is easier for consumers to connect to brands due to social media, but on the other hand, consumer loyalty is in an all time slump.

It’s important for brands to overcome this so-called ‘brand paradox’. By implementing ambassador marketing strategies you establish a bridge between consumer interaction and customer loyalty. There are two key approaches to keep in mind:

1. Identification of your brand ambassadors
Many companies try to find their most loyal fans by selecting those who provide the most interaction and coverage about their brand. A real brand ambassador is committed to his or hers authenticity, credibility and shares things out of belief in what the brand stands for. This could even be an employee of your company. You are looking for people that not only enjoy your brand but also want others to feel the same way.

2. Activation of your brand ambassadors
A resourceful action is to gradually shift your focus from content management to community management. The content you publish is already being digested by your brand ambassadors. Now you want it to reach further. Within a brand ambassadors community, you can activate these fans helping you spread your message.

You might think that cash incentives are important, but in actuality, this is not the case.

What’s more important for a real brand ambassador is the feeling of recognition. As long as you show your brand ambassadors ‘the good stuff’; early content, behind the scenes production, new campaign strategies they'll be more than happy to increase the power of your content.

Activation can be coupled with rewards and that is effective. Ambassadors like to be surprised and thanked for their commitment.

But there are many alternative ways for companies to envision rewards. For example, a dinner with the CEO, exclusive t-shirts, a name mention under certain collaborative campaigns etc. It can also be supporting or consulting function. When you do decide on cash insensitive always connect them to responsibility. Ambassadors want a feeling of purpose and respect for what they're doing. 

Referrals through Brand Advocate Marketing

Ideally, companies not only focus on online activities with brand ambassadors, because studies have shown that 90% of word-of-mouth happens offline, this makes the direct contact with your community extra useful.

Advocates that have an established connection with you also influence their immediate offline circles.

"83% of loyal customers are willing to refer to a positive experience- yet only 29% actually do" - Texas Tec

The goal of creating offline referrals is something that needs to be incentivised.

Through an advocate community, companies have the ability to cater the ‘the good stuff’ online and reap the benefits offline.

The relationship with brand advocates should be thought of as long-term with the ultimate goal of influencing new customer by rewarding your word-of-mouth distributors.

Advocate marketing is about building a reputation, new relationships with customers, entertaining fans and increasing the reach of social media power.

Its implementation has a large range of; experiences with a product or service, challenges, games and sharing positive messages or stories of ambassadors.

The value of advocate marketing is not to be underestimated because this is the cornerstone of word-of-mouth promotion. By engaging with them they can be your greatest asset in credible and trustworthy marketing.

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