Brand advocacy has endless benefits for businesses to grow and harness their relationships with loyal customers. However, the great thing about advocacy is that it aids both the brand and the customer. Advocates are viewed as collaborators in a two-way relationship, so it is vital that they are made to feel valued.

The great work that advocates do must be rewarded so that everybody benefits. Advocates then have an incentive to continue promoting the company by spreading positive word of mouth. Rewards can come in the form of status and belonging, or material benefits. These are five ways in which businesses can incentivise their loyal advocates.

1) Empower your advocates

In most cases, customers become advocates because they feel a personal connection to the brand. This means that they want something deeper and more meaningful than the traditional customer relationship. They want to be a collaborator; to belong. For many, being empowered is all the reward they need.

2) Crowdsource from your collaborators

By bestowing the status of collaborators on advocates they feel like they belong, while brands get to crowdsource their ideas for free. There are countless examples of successful businesses who crowdsource ideas, such as Lego. With Lego Ideas, customers suggest concept lego sets, many of which are now available to buy.

Swedish furniture giant, IKEA, also uses crowdsourcing and co-creation to incentivise advocates to make a difference. Ideas from customers in Australia are harnessed to make products more suitable for everyday life. As well as improving the product, crowdsourcing incentivises advocates with the feeling of empowerment.

3) Recognise your loyal advocates

For advocates who love the brand, recognition can be enough of an incentive. It could not be easier for businesses to recognise their community of loyal advocates. Something as simple as an endorsement on social media gives advocates the status of collaborators. GoPro has used this effectively by sharing its customers’ content, simultaneously rewarding them and getting free advertising.

4) Provide advocates with merch

Branded merchandise makes customers feel that they are part of the family. Something as simple as a branded hoodie can make an advocate feel valued. This has the dual benefit of incentivising advocates to earn more merch and acting as free advertising for the brand when they wear it.

The music industry offers merch to give fans of bands a sense of community and belonging. The same technique works in business, as advocates work to earn merch and recognition. Status is the greatest incentive for advocates, and merch is just one way of rewarding them.

5) Reward advocates with cash

For businesses which can afford it, paying advocates makes them feel that they are valued. However, even cash-strapped companies can provide amazing material rewards for advocates. There is no better way to retain advocates’ loyalty in these times than by saving them money.

This can be as simple as a restaurant giving its advocates a discounted meal, or a barber rewarding advocates with a free trim. Even a gesture as small as sending advocates a free mug shows that advocates are appreciated.

In a way, it doesn’t matter how advocates are rewarded as long as they are valued. The best incentive for advocates to act is to feel that they belong. Whether this involves crowdsourcing, empowerment, or physical merchandise, the important thing is that brands recognise their advocates.

At Hyve we can help you quickly understand where you currently are and help you get to where you need to be in order to create a brand advocacy programme that can help you increase revenue and enhance reputation.

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Mark Docherty

Author Mark Docherty

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