Brand Advocates Are Pure Gold: Why They Matter Now More Than Ever

Brand loyalty has always been valuable to resell, upsell, and cross-sell goods and services

Every customer typically associates an emotion with a brand. This emotion is founded on the customer’s buying and usage experience or when they need to avail of post-sales services. And if the experience is exceptional, then voila! You have your brand loyalists. Brand loyalty has always been valuable to resell, upsell, and cross-sell goods and services. A Bain & Co and Harvard Business School study found that expanding customer loyalty by just 5% increases profits by 25% to a whopping 95%. No surprises there.

But what if there was a way to take these loyal customers to the next level? How? By becoming your brand advocates. By not just continuing to buy from you repeatedly but also shouting your name from rooftops and influencing others to become your customers. All this at no additional cost to you. Such customers, or brand advocates, are pure gold and form the heart of your business and reputation.

Here’s an example: A friend purchased a refrigerator from a leading home appliance brand that went kaput just as the pandemic-driven lockdowns began the world over in 2020. She called customer care, who promptly sent a technician (despite the lockdown) and discovered that the compressor was busted. After more than a year of purchase, the company replaced the refrigerator with a brand new one at no extra cost and no questions asked. Mind you, this was a top-line product and not cheap. Needless to say, my friend was sold. Not only is she a customer for life, she also doesn’t shy away from giving glowing reviews about the company, its products, and after-sales services to anyone who is looking to buy. In her, this home appliance company has a solid customer advocate.

Brand advocates drive growth

The most fundamental challenge that organisations face in today’s business landscape, the post-COVID-19 era, is ensuring continuous growth, which does not come with customer loyalty alone. It comes from the “loyalty plus, plus” status of customers who operate as an extended arm of your sales and marketing teams. These customers—your brand advocates--are those who genuinely believe in your brand, organisation, products, and services and endorse them without any monetary gains. Brand loyalists go a long way when they become your brand advocates. They supplement your marketing efforts and organically promote your enterprise to new audiences.

Your brand advocates can include your employees, customers, or social influencers. The opinions and experiences they share about your brand tend to spread faster and have higher trust value and acceptance than your own marketing efforts. In today’s hyper-digital world, brands can no longer rely purely on their advertising and marketing campaigns to promote growth and generate revenue. Word-of-mouth becomes an even more viable and powerful tool that lands better with potential customers.

Brand advocates command better trust

Imagine a customer sharing their positive experience about an organisation with their social groups. For instance, I have a premium customer status with a leading airline and the

telecom operator I subscribe to. When I travel by said airline, despite being a premium customer, my experience is not very different from any other passenger. What I do get are miles (points) that I can redeem at some point in the future. However, with my telecom operator, my experience is different. As a premium customer, I get to preview new offers and products, and if I ever have to call customer care, I have a very short wait time, I don’t have to go through the IVR, and my query/issue is resolved promptly.

The difference here is that while my airline gives me a monetary benefit, my telecom operator provides an exceptional experience. And at the end of the day, an unforgettable experience is what matters the most. That I will strongly recommend my telecom operator to my social circle makes me their brand advocate.

Today, brand advocacy is critical as it allows companies to grow organically, builds trust, and long-term relationships with customers. It puts the efficiency and other positive aspects of your products and services on record for anyone and everyone to see or hear. And having a robust brand advocacy program ensures that your enterprise has higher visibility and trust with a larger audience, has established solid brand awareness, and contributes significantly to increasing revenue and lowering costs.

Besides, a successful brand advocacy program is a sure way of humanising your brand. While automation and digitalisation may have made life easier, people still crave human interaction. And when real people talk about your brand in their authentic voices, it goes a long way in building your brand personality, higher empathy, and more trust. It is time businesses invest in building a strong brand advocacy strategy as that is where the next phase of organic growth will come from. And over time, it will save your marketing teams time and budget, while delivering a massive ROI.

*The author is Amit Sanyal, EVP & Chief Operating Officer - Growth Marketing Solutions at Comviva

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