I have become fairly accustomed to analyzing the behavior of our customers’ brand advocates in order to better serve our clients and develop our own Best Practices. Plus, it’s just interesting to understand what motivates people to do stuff for your brand that, to be honest, they don’t really have to do.
Remember Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Fascinating stuff. To boil it down, there are needs every human has, and we take care of the most basic ones first, then we progress to needs that have to do more with our self esteem and personal growth – this is where brand advocacy fits in.
If consumers like your brand, they probably feel as though your brand fills a need they have and this makes them feel good. These consumers develop a certain affinity for what your brand gives them.
So. If your brand has a loyal following, and if you believe Maslow was on to something with his inverted triangle, then it’s probably beneficial for you to motivate these people to help you out. How?
#1. Give them a reason to feel grateful for you in the first place.
- Provide a solid product or service that you believe in – one that answers consumers’ demand for something they need to make life easier, more fun, prettier, more exciting, etc.
- Put a face on your brand – one that conveys the degree to which you are willing to make consumers happy or satisfied – to eliminate some kind of pain or challenge they have in their lives. For many established brands, you’re still around because you’ve already done this stuff well.
#2. Help them through the buying process.
- Make it easy for your consumers and brand advocates to buy things from you. The more we know about our brand advocates, the more your sales teams can effectively answer their needs without wasting their time or yours.
- Do your consumers like to buy your products online? Do they need the help of your call center agents? Would they rather connect with you offline or in your retail location? Know where to be when they are ready to buy from you and make it clear that you want to make that process simple and even fun.
#3. Don’t assume your brand advocates are going to stick by your brand if all you’re giving them is messages from your marketing department (though, I’m sure you’ve got fantastic people in your marketing departments).
- Today, brand advocacy is around for one reason: words can travel fast and be shared with staggering numbers of people. Consumers buy something and within moments, can tell the world (no hyperbole here) what they think of it. Respect that’s how it is, and give them more than a TV commercial – develop a brand advocacy program that allows consumers to talk to your brand advocates about you. This requires some planning and systems you must put in place to make that happen.
- Brand advocates who have already stood up and identified themselves by registering for a program your brand offers; referred a friend to you; written a blog or testimonial about your products or services or just shared some of your content or brand messages? They need to know that you want them to do so. So give them the tools they need to talk to your prospects and answer these prospects’ questions. These days, if you’re not motivating your brand advocates to talk to your prospects honestly and openly, you’re not viewed as transparent.
#4. For goodness sake; say thank you.
- A brand can have a top-notch brand advocacy program that is generating sales and getting consumers to share your content and offers but guess what? Your program is going to have a pretty brief shelf life unless you’ve got a way to thank your brand advocates for what they’re doing for you.
- When should you thank a brand advocate? Every time you ask them to help you out and they do. And if you’re a big brand? Don’t try to say thank you on your own – put the technology in place to track and manage every brand advocate’s activity on your behalf so the moment they do something for you, you can say thank you and, if you are really appreciative, reward them for their help.
- Listening ties into saying thanks. As this brand advocacy wheel begins to turn, make sure you’re getting some insightful data from everything your brand advocates do, and you’re listening to it.
- Here’s an example: at our company, many of our enterprise clients have brand advocates who will help you out by referring more than one friend to you who will become your customer. But, if we didn’t analyze our client’s data and figure out that sometimes it takes the current brand advocate 2 – 3 months to make that subsequent referral, we would not have figured out that this brand needed to communicate with their advocates more than once every couple of months to ask them to refer. Once we listened to what our client’s brand advocates were telling them, we were able to significantly boost their program performance and keep those brand advocates engaged and loyal to the brand. It was win-win.
Back to Maslow. Critics of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs say that it doesn’t quite work across the board because, to say it simply, everyone is different. Different needs cause different behaviors.
Either way, supporter or critic, Maslow’s hierarchy makes sense: you must know your brand advocates and what motivates them – even if your brand advocates are mostly similar or vastly different. Once you tune into their actions and motivations, you not only create more loyal and productive advocates, you can create a more esteemed and successful brand.