5 Ways to Turn Brand Advocates into a Content Marketing Engine

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This post was originally published on iMediaConnection.

Are you leveraging your highly-satisfied customers (AKA “Brand Advocates”) to generate product reviews, videos, testimonials, and more? If not, you’re missing a major content marketing opportunity.

Content created by Advocates is highly trusted and influential. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust peer recommendations. Only 53% trust content that you create and post on your website.

Here are five ways to turn your Advocates into a powerful content marketing engine:

  1. Identify your Advocates. Ask your customers the “Ultimate Question” for loyalty: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our company or product to your friends?” Customers who respond 9 or 10 are Advocates.
  2. Encourage Advocates to rate and review your products. Seventy percent of consumers trust online reviews, Nielsen says. And 67% of consumers don’t buy after reading only one to three negative reviews, according to Lightspeed Research. Make it easy for Advocates to create online reviews by giving them review applications.
  3. Enable Advocates to create stories about their experiences with your company or products. Ask them to tell you about their “Kodak moment.” Stories bring your brand promise to life in a very authentic way. Here’s an example of a story created by an Advocate of Rubio’s Restaurants, a California-based fast casual eatery famous for its fantastic fish tacos.
  4. Make it easy for Advocates to answer prospects’ questions. Advocate Answers application enables prospects to ask Advocates questions about why they purchased your products or services. A VOIP company has generated over 3,000 leads via Advocate Answers. These are highly-qualified leads – these are prospects who are taking time to ask questions, indicating strong purchase interest and intent.
  5. Amplify Advocates. Enable Advocates to publish and/or share the content they’ve created on shopping sites, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and elsewhere by including social sharing widgets in content creation forms.

Creating content can be costly and time-consuming. Don’t overlook the most powerful weapon in your content marketing arsenal: your Brand Advocates!

Social Media Marketing: How To Turn Satisfied Customers Into ‘Brand Advocates’

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Originally written & published on Forbes.com

Content is a vital part of marketing, but “feeding the content beast” is expensive and time consuming.  According to Curata’s “B2B Marketing Trends Survey 2012 Report,” the top three challenges of content marketing are: creating original content; having time to create it; and finding high-quality content. With 28% to 33% of marketing budgets dedicated to content marketing, this is obvious priority can become a herculean challenge.

Enter the consumer. Highly-satisfied customers are a secret marketing weapon for companies, whether they are retailers, manufacturers or in the service industry. Play it right and these brand advocates will create high-quality content for you in a variety of ways, without being paid.

Intrigued? Here’s how to turn your brand advocates into a powerful content creation force.

Find your advocates. A simple and effective way to identify your advocates is to ask them the ultimate question for customer loyalty: (On a scale of 0-10), “How likely are you to recommend us to your friends or colleagues?” Customers who answer 9 or 10 are considered advocates. You should be asking this question across customer touch points; via social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online communities; digital channels like your website, corporate blogs, email, customer management portals, support channels; and even via mobile devices.

Turn advocates into content creating machines. Forget incentives or perks. Brand advocates recommend their favorite products because they’ve had a fantastic experience and want to help others. The key is to make it easy for advocates to generate content by giving them online tools to create the following:

  • Highly positive reviews that will increase ratings, combat negative word of mouth, and improve SEO
  • Glowing stories and testimonials that will boost awareness and brand reputation
  • Answers to prospects’ questions that will increase sales conversion rates
  • Tweets, Facebook posts, and comments that will drive positive word of mouth for your brand
  • Videos, photos, and other multimedia content to boost engagement

Amplify advocates. Once advocates have created a piece of authentic and compelling content for your brand, give them the tools to share the love via social sharing widgets for channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and email. To help boost ratings, enable them to publish their reviews on relevant third party review sites such as Yelp, Amazon, or TripAdvisor.

Leverage content. Advocate-generated content is digital gold. Don’t keep this treasure buried in your backyard. Display how you’ve created raving advocates by posting their recommendations on media channels like your website, Facebook and Twitter. Another powerful way to leverage this content is to put positive reviews or testimonials at each step in the consumer purchase path to increase conversion rates and reduce shopping cart abandonment.

Track results. Tracking allows you to measure and improve results. Here are a few things you should track:

  • Profiles of advocates who are creating content. Who are these content creators? What are their names and email addresses? What companies do they work for? What are their job titles? The more you know about these valuable customers, the better.
  • Activities of advocate content creators. You should be able to track how much content advocates are creating; the type of content (for example, reviews, stories, and answers); and when and where they’re sharing it.
  • Results of advocate content sharing. It’s important to track how many people in advocates’ social networks are viewing advocate-created content and how many are taking the next step, whether that’s signing up for a webinar, clicking through to learn more about the recommended product, or buying.

Keep advocacy authentic. This is critical to success. “Recommendations” that are spurred by perks or rewards compromise your credibility and brand reputation. In fact, studies show prospects are actually less likely to buy the recommended product if they learn that the recommender was given an incentive. If you need to pay someone to write a review, you should fix your product or service, rather than pimping out your customers.

How Brand Advocacy Boosts Customer Retention For Fitness Clubs

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One of the most critical challenges facing fitness clubs is customer (or member) retention. About 30 percent of club members do not renew their memberships, according to IHRSA. In some clubs, turnover rates are even higher.

In larger fitness chains, improving retention rates by even one percent can mean millions in revenues. So how can Brand Advocates help fitness clubs keep more members? Here are four ways:

1. Members are more likely not to renew if their usage levels are low. Brand Advocates can  help educate other members about services they may not currently be using like Group X classes, personal training, swimming lessons, spa services, and more. As the club’s most enthusiastic and engaged members, Advocates are glad to tell others about these services.

2. Brand Advocates will happily create content about why they’re loyal customers. Ask your Advocates why they stay with your club. Advocates will create compelling answers, which you can then share with other members and even prospects.

3. Sponsor fun events where Advocates encourage new members to participate in club events and take advantage of club services.

4. Lastly, engaging your Advocates increases the likelihood that these enthusiastic members themselves will continue renewing their memberships month after month, year after year. By building and nurturing relationships with your Advocates, you deepen their commitment to your club.

We saw this at Apple, where I worked as a marketing consultant for ten years. Apple Advocates drove loyalty by acting as a powerful marketing force. These enthusiastic customers went out of their way to:

  • Educate other Apple customers about product features and benefits, which increased product usage.
  • Defend the Apple brand against negative word of mouth, a significant cause of attrition.
  • Build communities of other Apple customers, which drove engagement.
  • Remind Apple customers why they purchased Apple products in the first place.

Top 10 Ways to Reward Customer Advocates

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Paying for advocacy isn’t a smart move. It lessens the impact of advocacy. It’s unethical and it can get a company in the FTC’s crosshairs. And it’s just freakin’ lame. It’s like saying, “Since our product isn’t worth talking about genuinely, how about I give you 10 bucks to write a review.”

Here are 10 ways to authentically reward Customer Advocates:

  1. Give Advocates sneak peeks at new products and services earlier than other customers. If your company is a consumer electronics manufacturer or a software firm, give Advocates first access to a new DVR or version of your graphics software.
  2. Hold special events for Advocates only. If your company is a restaurant, hold a special event for Advocates where they get an exclusive preview of your new menu or meet your new executive chef. If you’re a retailer, hold a special Advocates only preview of a new store opening. Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill and Vertical Response, an e-mail service provider, are two companies that thank Advocates by inviting them to special events.
  3. Provide Advocates with exclusive offers that they can share with their friends. Don’t give Advocates the same offers you give to all customers. Give Advocates unique offers that show that you recognize them as your true VIP’s. If your company is a hotel, give Advocates a weekend package for their friends only.
  4. Give Advocates early access to exclusive content. This includes content like white papers and research studies. If you’re a biotech company, make sure your Advocates are the first to get a new research study.
  5. Ask Advocates for their opinions. If you’re an apparel company and thinking about a new sportswear line, give Advocates the opportunity to voice their opinions about the line before others.
  6. Give Advocates special access to company leaders. Starbucks gave one of its Advocates- “Starbucks Melody”- an opportunity to meet company founder, Howard Schultz. Can you imagine how thrilled Virgin America Advocates would be to meet Sir Richard Branson? Even if you don’t have a rock star CEO, giving Advocates the opportunity to have direct dialogue with senior leaders of your company can make them feel special.
  7. Give contributions to nonprofit causes on behalf of Advocates. One of the best ways to reward Brand Advocates is to make cash and/or in-kind contributions to deserving nonprofit organizations on behalf of your Advocates. This approach motivates Advocates, boosts your corporate image and reputation, and serves a useful social purpose.
  8. Honor your Advocates. Webroot has started recognizing its Advocates with its Webroot “Advocate of the Week” program. This is yet another great way to encourage advocacy without paying for it.
  9. Let them know that their recommendations matter. One of the best ways to recognize Advocates is making sure they know their advocacy is working. Awhile back, one of my colleagues recommended someone they knew for a position at our company, Zuberance. They were delighted when I sent them an email thanking them for the recommendation and letting them know that the person was doing a great job. You can do the same thing systematically online by showing Advocates which of their friends they’ve recommended are also now customers and Advocates themselves!
  10. Give Advocates VIP levels of service. If your company is a hotel or a resort, you may provide Advocates with a town car or limousine while they stay at your property or a personal VIP guide. If your company is a software provider, offer Advocates a special help desk for VIP customers only.

Letting your Advocates know that you recognize their contribution is the best reward imaginable. A simply thank you note or email from the CEO of your company goes a long way with Advocates.

Branding Strategy: Get Your Advocates to Share Their Stories

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Another great way to energize your Brand Advocates is to invite them to create stories. Stories are brief written or video statements where Advocates talk about how your company, brands, or products are making their lives better, easier, or more productive.

Advocate stories are powerful because they’re real. They help you build credibility, generate referral leads, and accelerate sales.

Buick, a brand on the comeback trail, wants consumers to shift the way people think about luxury- and about Buick. So Buick is getting its Advocates to write and share stories about why they love their Buicks. In only a few weeks, Buick Advocates have written over 1,600 love letters and 16% of Advocates have shared them on Facebook.

Different From Reviews

Advocate stories differ from reviews in three ways:

  1. Advocate stories are typically about Advocates’ experiences with your company or brand versus with a particular product.
  2. Since Advocate stories focus on company or brand rather than specific products or services, they typically do not include star ratings as reviews do.
  3. Advocate stories are often more personal and emotional than reviews. They often focus on Advocates’ feelings rather than product features and benefits.

Three Strategic Uses For Advocates’ Stories

Here are three situations where Advocates’ stories can be especially helpful:

  1. Support brand messages. Advocates’ stories can help communicate and add credibility to your brand message. CDW, the online retailer’s brand message is that CDW “gets IT.” (IT, in this case, also stands for Information Technology.) CDW can get its Advocates to create stories about how their experiences show that CDW deeply understands the needs of IT managers.
  2. Rebranding and repositioning. Advocates’ stories can add credibility to your claims if you’re trying to change perceptions about what your brand or company stands for. Jamba Juice wants to transform its brand from a made-to-order smoothie company to a healthy, active lifestyle brand. So we recommended that Jamba get its Advocates to create stories that support its new positioning.
  3. Rejuvenating. Advocates’ stories can help reinvigorate your brand’s image. Ball Corporation, makers of the iconic glass jars used for canning vegetables, needs to find a way to be relevant to today’s women. So they’re inviting Advocates who are a younger demographic than Ball’s traditional customers to create stories about how easy it is to make delicious, healthy food at home.

Give your Advocates the opportunity to share their story about your brand. You’ll find they’ll come up with more emotional and compelling content than your ad agency can.

Brand Advocacy: Social Media’s Sweet Spot

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[This is an excerpt from the ground-breaking new book by Zuberance Founder/CEO Rob Fuggetta, "Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force" (Wiley, 2012)]

SOCIAL MEDIA HANGOVER

Many marketers are experiencing a “social media hangover.”

They’re starting to question the value of getting more like and followers. They’re seeing that only 10 to 15 percent of fans ever return to a brand’s pages on Facebook, and that less than 1 percent of fans engage with brands on social networks. And here’s the dirty little secret about social media: doing social media right takes a lot of people and time, two things most companies don’t have.

Social media may be inexpensive compared to traditional media. But social media isn’t free. If you add up the cost of all the people required to manage an effective social media program for a company, you’d be surprised how large the tab really is.

GET SOCIAL OR DIE

Companies can’t afford not to be doing social.

You must use the communication channels your customers and others use, and, increasingly, those channels are social. There are now more than 800 million active Facebook users, with more than 200 million added in 2011, according to the Social Media Examiner. Plus, there are now 100 million active Twitter users (they log in at least once a day). In fact, we haven’t even scratched the surface of the power of social media. The technology is transformational.

Even if you can’t measure or prove social media ROI, you can’t afford not to be using it. If there wasn’t a ROI, would you not do social?

ADVOCACY: SOCIAL MEDIA’S SWEET SPOT

Ironically, the most valuable thing you can do with social media is something that’s been around marketing ever since Eve said to Adam: “Here, take a bite out this apple. I recommend it.”

It’s getting your enthusiastic customers (AKA “Brand Advocates”) to recommend your company, brand, products, and services.

As the founder of a company that sells advocacy technology and services, you probably think I’m biased.

Guilty as charged.

But I’m also a career marketer like you. I’ve tried every type of marketing tool and technique. I’ve created some award-winning marketing campaigns and some duds. I’ve never seen any marketing approach work better than getting your Advocates to do your marketing for you. But don’t trust me. Ask the Advocates of this approach.

YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE WAY AHEAD OF YOU

A while ago, I attended a market research firm’s annual event for marketers. Speaker after speaker urged marketers to innovate, to try new approaches.

“Your customers are way ahead of you!” they proclaimed. “They’re ignoring your ads and using word of mouth networks instead,” speakers ranted.

Marketers in the audience applauded wildly. And then they went to lunch with their ad agency to plan their next ad blitz.

MOVING THE DOLLARS

It’s time to take a few of the dollars you’re spending now on underperforming tools that don’t work very well, like billboards and ads, and invest in advocacy.

Nancy Terry, SVP of marketing of Sport & Health Clubs in the Washington, DC, area, is a fitness marketer who gets it. Like lots of other marketers, her budget isn’t getting any bigger. So she’s moving some of her marketing dollars from other marketing tools that aren’t working very well into advocacy.

“I am one hundred percent convinced that getting our enthusiastic members to help market our club is an approach that will work,” said Nancy, as she launched an advocacy program in early 2012. “After all, word of mouth is the number one way we get leads today. Why not invest in what’s working?” she asks.

Good question.

-Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance (@robfuggetta)

Click here to purchase Brand Advocates.

Top 10 Ways to “Sell” a Brand Advocate Program to Your CMO

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You’re excited about starting a Brand Advocate program. Now you need to “sell” your CMO or VP marketing on the idea.

Here’s some advice and guidance on how to get your CMO’s blessings and budget for an advocacy program:

1.      Keep it simple. Advocacy is a fancy term for Word of Mouth marketing. Some people may not understand or even heard of the term “advocacy.” But your CMO (and nearly all business people for that matter) know the power of Word of Mouth. So instead of saying to your CMO, “We’d like to start an advocacy program,” try telling them: “We’d like to start a Word of Mouth marketing program.”

2.      Find the CMO’s pain/attack the pain. This is “sales 101.” Focus in on the CMO’s pain and show him or her how an advocacy program will help fix it. See chart below:

CMO Pain How Advocacy can Help Real-world example
Negative Word of Mouth, e.g. low online ratings Boost online ratings Symantec doubled its star ratings and increased sales 200% on Amazon.com in one quarter after energizing its Advocates
High customer acquisition costs Lower customer acquisition costs Ooma, a VoIP provider, cut acquisition costs 54% by energizing its Advocates
Get more value from Facebook marketing Find Advocates from among Facebook fans and turn them into a marketing force Ancestry.com has identified over 2,000 Advocates on its Facebook page, and is inviting Advocates to share testimonials plus offers with their Facebook friends.

3.      Give your CMO the “word” on Word of Mouth. 94% of consumers trust Word of Mouth; only 24% trust ads, Nielsen says. If you have information about the influence of Word of Mouth on your company’s sales, give it to the CMO. If you don’t have this research, ask your sales team. Many companies get more than half of their sales from Word of Mouth.

4.      Show your CMO negative Word of Mouth about your company. Negative Word of Mouth comes in many forms: poor reviews and ratings; nasty posts on Facebook and Twitter; venomous comments in online forums. Screen-grab this content and show it to your CMO. Or just have your CMO type in your company or brand name with the word “sucks” and see how many hits you get.

5.      Prove that negative Word of Mouth – even a little – can hurt your company’s sales. If your CMO responds by saying, “Oh well, a few negative reviews aren’t a big problem,” share research with him or her that proves that even a few negative reviews can kill your sales and ruin your reputation. One negative post on social media, on average, has as much impact on customer purchase decisions as five positive posts, NM Incite says. And 80% of consumers change their mind after reading a single bad review, according to a survey by Cone, a Boston-based strategy and communications agency.

6.      Provide stats proving that positive Word of Mouth boosts sales. Numerous studies prove that advocacy drives sales. A one-star increase in ratings on Yelp can boost restaurant sales by 5% to 9%, a Harvard study showed. And companies with only 12% higher Net Promoter Scores (a measure of advocacy) grew their revenues 2X faster than companies with lower Net Promoter Scores, according to a Bain study.

7.      Set clear expectations. When making the case for advocacy, it’s important to estimate on how many Advocates you can identify; how many will recommend your brand and product; how many will create and/or share or publish positive reviews, testimonials, etc.

8.      Focus on Return on Advocacy. Advocate marketing programs have compelling, measurable ROI as measured by media and sales value. Club One Fitness, a San Francisco-based fitness chain, got $525,000 in lifetime membership revenues from a two-month advocacy campaign. And Parallels, a software company, got a 30% sales conversion rate when Advocates shared offers and testimonials with their peers. To help you estimate the Return on Advocacy from an Advocate marketing program, download “What’s a Brand Advocate Worth?”.

9.      Show why your company should move some of its marketing dollars into advocacy. About 90 percent of most company’s marketing investments go to traditional marketing like ads. Yet only 1 in 5 CMOs say they’re getting the marketing results they want. Arm yourself with the facts: What’s your sales conversion rate for traditional marketing programs? How many leads are you getting? How qualified are these leads? Then, drawing on relevant case studies and examples, show how advocacy programs are more effective and less expensive than traditional marketing programs.

10.  Show how a Brand Advocate program will super-charge your company’s Content Marketing Program. Depending on the size of your company, your company may be spending millions of dollars developing content. (Companies spend about 26% of their marketing budgets on developing content, one study showed.) One design firm charges $10,000 to $15,000 for a single infographic! Show how a Brand Advocate program will deliver thousands of pieces of premium content like highly positive reviews and glowing customer testimonials for less than the cost of brand-developed content. Ancestry.com, the popular genealogy website, generated over 6,800 glowing Advocate testimonials in less than 90 days.

-Rob Fuggetta, Founder & CEO, Zuberance, and author, “Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force” (Wiley, 2012)

5 Ways to Foster Fanatical Brand Advocates

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(This article was originally posted on Fast Company.)

You don’t need advertising, you need Advocates- the people who tell everyone they know about how awesome your product is. But first you need to know who they are and how to get them.

Zappos, Trader Joe’s, Amazon.com, Method, Red Bull, The Body Shop, Google, and SodaStream all built their brands without advertising. Their brand advocates are their marketing department. “We’ve built this entire business, and an entire category in fact, on the power of our brand advocates,” says Kristin Harp, U.S. marketing manager at SodaStream, which turns tap water into sparkling water and soda.

In fact, the three most powerful social media companies–Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn–never spent a dime on advertising or paid people to recommend them. They didn’t need to. Advocates used social media to recommend them to their friends.

You may spend millions of dollars on elaborate marketing campaigns. But there is nothing more powerful than a trusted recommendation from a brand advocate.

Advocates are your best marketers and salespeople, and your most loyal, engaged, enthusiastic, and valuable customers. In today’s world, it’s advocates–not advertising’s “Mad Men”–who have the power.

The Trust Factor

The biggest reason brand advocates are so powerful is a single, five-letter word: Trust.

Nine of 10 online consumers say recommendations from friends and family members are the most trusted form of advertising worldwide. Only about 2 of 10 trust online ads.

Advocates’ recommendations are the number-one influencer of purchase decisions and brand perceptions in nearly every product category from smartphones to software, hotels to housewares, cars to computers, financial services to fitness memberships.

In a recent Zuberance survey, 89 percent of advocates said their friends buy or consider purchasing the products and services they recommend. Many consumers and business buyers ignore, skip, and TiVo out ads, but when advocates recommend something, consumers will go out of their way to buy it.

Social Media Amplify Advocates

In the old days (pre–social media), advocates’ reach was limited to their immediate circle of family and friends. Recommendations were made over the water cooler at work or over dinner with friends. Now, empowered by social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, Foursquare, online reviews, and more), advocates collectively reach millions of buyers with trusted recommendations.

According to one market research firm, each time a consumer posts something on the social web it reaches a minimum of 150 people. There are about 500 billion word of mouth impressions on the social web each year in the United States, rivaling the reach of ads, the company says.

Different from Fans and Followers

Many people use the terms “fan,” “follower,” and “brand advocate” interchangeably. But these are different types of people.

Fans and followers may like you but not all of them recommend you. In fact, until recently, Facebook required that you “Like” a brand in order to write on their wall, even if you wanted to complain about the brand.

Fans and followers have different motivations than brand advocates.

The top reason people like a brand on Facebook is “to receive discounts and promotions” (40 percent), followed by “to show my support for the company to others” (39 percent); “to get a freebie” (free samples, coupons); “to stay informed about the activities of a company” (34 percent); and “to get updates on future products” (33 percent) (ExactTarget, April 2010).

Brand advocates, on the other hand, are motivated by good experiences and a desire to help others. Over the last three years, Zuberance has powered over 30 million advocate actions. We’ve never paid or provided an incentive to a single advocate for their recommendation. And no advocate has ever been given a freebie if their friends buy something.

Generating advocates

Advocates already exist. Your opportunity is to turn them into a powerful marketing force.

But how do companies create more brand advocates? Here’s what it takes:

  1. Provide an “insanely great product.”: This was one of Steve Jobs’s famous statements. Very few people go out of their way to advocate mediocre products or services. Advocacy starts with having a product or service people are eager to recommend.
  2. Deliver memorable service: In an era when so many products and services are similar, service is the great differentiator. Nordstrom, Zappo’s, and Four Seasons hotels are examples of companies that created legions of advocates by providing extraordinary service.
  3. Focus on good profits: As loyalty guru Fred Reichheld has stated, there’s a difference between good profits and bad profits. Bad profits include earnings from price gouging, cutbacks on customer service, and hidden charges.
  4. Do the right thing, even when it costs you money: It’s easy for companies to do the right thing when it doesn’t cost extra. But when doing the right thing costs companies money, many firms take the low road. For example, if allowing a customer to return a lemon costs you money, do it anyway. Much better to do this than create a Detractor. If your company has screwed up, admit your mistake and fix it as fast as possible. In the social media age, a handful of disgruntled customers can harm your company or brand’s cherished reputation.
  5. Have a social conscience or get one fast: People are more likely to recommend companies and brands that have a social conscience. When it was revealed that Nike was paying low wages to workers, its advocates abandoned the brand. Take a social stand on issues or give back to your communities. Brands like The Body Shop earn advocacy in these ways.

Advocates For Life

When you create and engage an advocate, you’ve identified a renewable marketing asset you can leverage for years.

Advocates’ love for you isn’t fleeting. This isn’t a summer romance or a brand fling. I know advocates who’ve evangelized Apple since the days of the Apple IIE. Same thing with advocates of brands like Harley Davidson, Sony, and Starbucks.

Even when your company goes off track or does something dumb, advocates have your back. I have experienced this many times with Apple; its advocates forgave the company’s missteps like its failed early experiments with PDAs (anyone remember the Newton?) or its ill-advised foray into enterprise computing.

But don’t take advocates for granted. Target, the discount retailer, incurred the wrath of many of its advocates when they learned that the company donated money to an anti-gay candidate in Minnesota. Target is known in Minnesota for donating to public school programs, food pantries and the annual Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival. Still, its support for the candidate angered advocates.

For a FREE sneak peek of Brand Advocates by Rob Fuggetta, click here to download Chapter 1.

Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. from Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers Into a Powerful Marketing Force by Rob Fuggetta. Copyright (c) 2012 by Zuberance, Inc. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.

Top 10 Things Brand Advocates Will Do For You

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You may spend millions of dollars on elaborate marketing campaigns. But there is nothing more powerful than a trusted recommendation from a Brand Advocate. Here are ten real-world examples of companies turning their enthusiastic customers into powerful marketing forces.

1. Give you referral leads and help sell you products and services, serving as a virtual sales force.

Club One, a California-based Fitness chain, has created an Advocate army of over 10,000 enthusiastic Club One members which have generated thousands of referral leads.

2. Write highly positive reviews of your products or services, boosting your online ratings.

Parallels, a desktop virtualization software company, has created an army of 30,000 enthusiastic Advocates who have written hundreds of highly positive reviews and published them on shopping sites like Amazon.com. This quickly boosted ratings for Parallels Desktop 7 software from 3.5 to 4.5 stars.

3. Create glowing testimonials about their experiences with your company or products.

In only a few weeks, Buick Advocates have written over 1,600 love letters and 16% of Advocates have shared them on Facebook.

4. Answer prospects’ questions, overcoming buyers’ objections and reducing shopping cart abandonment rates.

Ooma, a VoIP provider, gave Advocates the opportunity to answer prospects’ questions. 1,587 Ooma Advocates or about 8% of Advocates opted in and each question is getting an average of 2.3 answers. Ooma received a staggering 50% click through rate among prospects who get their questions answered by Advocates.

5. Share your content and offers with their social networks, driving referral leads, clicks, and sales.

Chili’s Bar & Grill, the casual dining chain, generated nearly one million inbound referral clicks from its Advocates sharing offers with friends, a 120 percent response rate.

6. Help you launch new products.

NetApp gave its Advocates a sneak peek video of a new version of one of its products a couple of weeks before it was released. NetApp Advocates shared the video with their peers which generated about a 100% response rate; that is, for every outbound share by Advocates it got one inbound referral click.

7. Create better ads than your high-priced ad agency and more compelling copy than your most skilled wordsmith.

Here’s an example of a story written by a Rubio’s Advocate:

Now, can an advertising copywriter produce content like that??

8. Defend your cherished company and brand reputation from detractors.

Safelite, an auto glass repair service, saw its star ratings on SuperPages.com leap from 2.35 to 4 stars after its Advocates wrote reviews. The average star ratings for Advocate reviews were 4.9 out of 5 stars.

9. Alert you to competitive threats and market opportunities.

Advocates will alert you when they discover similar companies claiming to offer a similar service or when they have an experience with your brand they don’t believe is up to standards. For example, as a Four Seasons Advocate, I’ve notified the manager on duty when I found the room service did not meet Four Seassons’ standards of excellent customer service.

10. Give you profitable ideas and produce feedback.

Method, maker of non-toxic, biodegradable household products, sent out a tweet asking its Advocates to contribute phrases the company could put on the bottom of its bottles. More than 500 Advocates responded.

-Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance

To learn more about finding and activating Brand Advocates, purchase “Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force” by Rob Fuggetta from the retailers on the right.

For a sneak peek, download Chapter 1 here.

Now Available! Download Chapter One of New Book, Brand Advocates

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About Brand Advocates

In the social media age, power has shifted from advertising’s Mad Men to millions of passionate Brand Advocates. Their trusted recommendations are driving purchase decisions for trillions of dollars in sales of cars to computers; soap to software; hotel rooms to home appliances; fitness memberships to fish tacos; and more. In this ground-breaking book, advocacy expert Rob Fuggetta shows marketers and business leaders how to identify Brand Advocates; energize them to spread positive Word of Mouth and drive sales; and track results from advocacy programs. Brand Advocates is chock full of colorful real-world stories of Brand Advocates and innovative marketers who are getting eye-popping results by turning Advocates into powerful marketing forces.

Click here to download Chapter One now!

To purchase Brand Advocates, choose from the retailers on the right.