At Advofest 2019 we were fortunate enough to welcome speakers from across different industries to discuss brand advocacy and the opportunities it holds for businesses. In a rapidly changing context, more and more brands are realising that the future of marketing lies with customers rather than expensive campaigns.
Anushka Malhotra, a Master’s graduate of Warwick Business School, told us that businesses can do far more to capitalise on brand advocacy. Anushka completed her practical dissertation with us at Hyve, in conjunction with her course.
At the executive level brand advocacy is still perceived merely as a means of maintaining a brand’s reputation and slightly increasing sales but, while these are important, they do not encapsulate the concept. Anushka laid out a useful framework for understanding the opportunities of modern brand advocacy.
What does brand advocacy mean for consumers?
Rather than focusing only on the benefits of brand advocacy for their company, businesses need to consider what advocacy means to the consumer. The power of word of mouth recommendations goes beyond impacting other customers’ purchase decisions, as it also represents that existing customers have a high level of satisfaction.
Likewise, word of mouth can be a great way of reaching new customers who would not otherwise be exposed to the brand. By pushing this with programmes to encourage product recommendations, brand advocacy can become a means of spreading mass messages to a whole new network of potential customers through word of mouth.
Even businesses which are starting to see the benefits of brand advocacy are still only seeing the very surface level of what it can offer. Anushka has set out four ways in which companies can improve their use of brand advocacy.
”We cannot stress enough how important it is for businesses to know what adds value to their customersAnushka MalhotraMaster's Graduate, Warwick Business School
An important way in which brands can make more of brand advocacy is by applying the concept throughout their company. Employees must share the values and image of the business as they are the point of contact between the brand and the customers.
If employees are unenthusiastic about the brand then customers are unlikely to be inspired. However, if every member of staff views themselves as the frontline representative of the company and advocates on its behalf, the customer is far more likely to follow suit.
In advocacy there must be a genuine connection with customers. Traditional business relationships are often purely transactional, but advocates require something deeper. Although it may not be possible for these relationships to become deep emotional bonds, customers appreciate businesses which go the extra mile.
To convert customers into true advocates, brands must show that they are putting effort in. When a customer can see that a brand is going out of its way to help them, they will return the favour by becoming an advocate.
”In order to activate brand advocates it is very critical to set the foundations right.Anushka MalhotraMaster's Graduate, Warwick Business School
Ease of access
Efficiency has never been more important to the customer experience than it is now. It is so easy to switch between brands that the slightest inconvenience can be enough to lose a customer.
Customers like it when services are easy to access, so the advocacy process should also be as simple as possible. Whether it is a case of sharing a link on social media or spreading the word to their network through word of mouth, the easier the process is, the more likely a customer is to help.
This is why brand advocacy platforms are so valuable: they simplify the advocacy process to the push of a button. You can watch Anushka’s talk with Dr Laura Chamberlain below.
Companies are starting to wake up to the opportunities of brand advocacy, but it can still offer so much more. Anushka used her fascinating talk to outline just a few of the ways in which businesses can improve their use of advocacy. We would like to thank her for joining us at Advofest and giving her fascinating talk.