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Advocacy is the New Loyalty

Last week I attended WOMMA’s Talkable Brands Exchange event in Seattle. It was a great day of knowledge forums where brands openly shared and discussed their social marketing successes, learnings, and best practices. Among the great brands that presented were Hershey, McDonalds, and Unilever. But of all the presentations that day, there was one particular topic that interested me the most—a roundtable over boxed lunches led by WOMMA President and VP & CMO of Pemco Mutual Insurance Company, Rod Brooks. The topic of discussion—advocacy. Rod queried the 6-person table with what each person wanted to know about “advocacy”, and it came down to two questions:

1. How do brands define advocacy?
2. How do brands measure advocacy?

What is Advocacy?

As the discussion ensued, we all defined advocacy very closely to its dictionary definition. But brands should adopt the notion that the power of advocacy is hyper-focused on the customer voice. What is the role of the customer and brand meeting (or relationship) in the first place if not for advocacy?

Three Stages of Advocacy:

1. I know you

  • I’m aware of you.
  • I have a perception of you and it is favorable.

2. I like you

  • I bought your product/service and renewed.
  • I like you enough to come back.

3. I love you

  • I’m delighted with you and exceeding to refer you.

Advocacy is the stage when all three above are recognized and the consumer/customer will go to the point of defending you even when you are not in the room. When these advocates stick by your side, you need to use them to scale your business.

What is the perfect metric for advocacy?

First and foremost, be clear on what it is you’re measuring. It really comes down to what people say and what they do. I just finished reading a Harvard Business Review article “The One Number You Need to Grow”, and it says the single most important question to ask your customers is, “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” But is simply answering “yes” to this question enough to validate advocacy? The “doing” part of actually recommending you is by far the more fascinating metric.

A classic advocate-for-a-brand example even came up when a participant in the discussion told her story about her love for JetBlue. She raved on about their spacious seats with way more room than any other airline she’s ever flown, the fact that they give free unlimited snacks, and the individual TV screens. You’d think she was a frequent flyer on JetBlue when in fact it was her very first experience. To take it a step further, she even said that she would be willing to make multiple stops to reach her destination if she could fly JetBlue. Now that’s showing the love!

Would you speak positively of negative sentiment towards any brand? Which brands, if any, would you defend when they’re not in the room? We’d love to hear your comments.

Tags : social media

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