Customer Advocacy - Why and How it's so IMPORTANT (Part II)
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Welcome to Part II of this Customer Advocacy Knowledge Series. Today we uncover how you can build a “Marketing Context” to inspire Customer Advocacy.
So what exactly does it mean to ‘build a marketing context’? Well, put simply, it refers to how a company can influence Customer Advocation by getting their customers INVOLVED with the company. Customers can only get involved with the company can open the door for them to do so, so think of this has ‘the opening of the door’.
In this day and age, potential customers rarely believe what companies tell them. But you know who they do listen to? Other customers and especially customer advocates. This is why its SO CRUCIAL to integrate the involvement of customers into what the company does and how it is portrayed. If a company can master this, their customers will start to create publicity based on the two types of success discussed in last weeks article. It’s a win/win situation.
So one last thing before we delve into the examples. I want to stress again that what I’m telling you here is simply an outline and broad understanding of what customer advocacy is. The specific examples listed here may not suit your business model, but they will give you a kick to start thinking about what WILL.
Below are some of the methods that can be utilized by companies in order to get their customers INVOLVED:
Social Media (Smirnoff Parties)
Social Media Platforms are the obvious go-to, with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest having created a surge of interest from companies, both old and new. Smirnoff Vodka is a perfect example of a company that has utilized social media platforms to get their customers involved. The party-goers decided that the best way to attract customer advocacy was to bring people together as communities. Their idea was to host multiple free-to-attend Smirnoff themed parties across cities that acquired the most votes and attention. Votes could be submitted via tags, shares, mentions or picture uploads to make sure all social platforms could be utilized. This was at a time when competitor vodka's were becoming the new craze and Smirnoff's quick thinking pushed them back up the ranks.
Referrals (Uber, Lyft)
Referrals are a hot topic right now, especially in the tech realm. Many companies have realized that customers with a little frugality can easily be converted into advocates. These folks will jump at the opportunity to get some free credits while doing their part to spread the word (because this hits on both types of success that we discussed last week). For this reason just about every single 'ride app' out there has initiated a referral scheme. It's a great idea that is beginning to spread like wild fire, so jump on it NOW before it becomes mainstream. Even more importantly, think about how you can spice what is being done now to take it to the next level?
Try It Free (Graze Box)
The "Try It Free'" mentality has also been around for a little while, although more specifically with software companies. It is however starting to branch out, with food/product delivery services now introducing this to their mix. Take Graze Box and Nature box for example. These little snack boxes get delivered to you once every 1 or 2 weeks and are great for a little nibble during the day or with a glass of wine in the evening. Persuading potential customer to dish out their money for the unknown is one of the biggest hurdles these companies face, so offering a free first box (incl. free shipping) is working absolute wonders. Customers receive their FREE box and if they are happy... they then tell friends they can get their own free box with a referral process benefiting them too! (Every person you refer you get $1 off your next box). Another win/win that touches upon both 'success types' we discussed.
Feedback / Market Research (Vivino)
A lot of companies ask for feedback, but rarely do they actually act on it and that is one of the most dangerous approaches you can take, especially with advocates. When a company asks its customers for advice and follows through on that advice, the customer then feels they are a part of the company itself, almost like family. From there they begin to speak on behalf of the company, introduce people to the company and interact with the companies social mediums on a 1-1 personal scale. This is by far one of the best positions you can be in when it comes to advocates, because these guys WANT to see you succeed, they class it as THEMSELVES succeeding too.
A perfect example of this is the community driven wine app "Vivino". Vivino closely monitors users who are contributing on an on-going basis and will ask them for their continued feedback to see what improvements they can make. As advocates have seen their suggestions put into place, the apps user base has been growing exponentially across the US market. In fact, I would class myself as an adovate to Vivino, which is why I offer my time to help the teams make changes, go out of my way to get people to join and also feature them on my website to get them added traction! Funnily enough, I will be writing a featured article on Vivino in the not too distant future, but before then if you'd like to check out the app which is available on iPhone, Android and Windows phones just click here.
Competitions & New Releases (Lego)
Allowing customers to directly partake in new releases can be perceived as a giant risk, but some companies choose to ignore those risks and it has paid off unbelievably well. Whether its desing or features in an app/website update or changes to the tangible product itself, this method works wonders if done correctly. Lets take a slightly different example, lets look at Lego. Lego noticed its sales were starting to fall and for the renowned kids toy mavens who brought so much happiness to our lives when we were young, this was a problem! Instead of paying millions of dollars for private market research, Lego came up with an idea. Why not make our KEY products this christmas from idea's that our customers created themselves? Sure enough, parents and kids came together in their THOUSANDS for the competition and Lego had more product ideas than they knew what to do with. In the end they narrowed it down and created a dozen or so products that were designed by their customers and their kids. These were an absolute hit and Lego's sales topped the charts.
Community Gatherings (Harley Davidson)
When it comes to Customer Involvement and community groups, Harley Davidson is one of the most famous and successful examples. Harley noticed that customers were going on road-trips in small groups and so decided to create their own. A massive one at that. Thousands of customers took time off work to go on this 'once in a lifetime opportunity' community trip across America. They purposely drove through a number of towns which created publicity on another level altogether for the company. Soon after a mass of sales took place as new customers wanted to became a part of this community having seen others. Based on this single event, Harley fans took it upon themselves to create 'community drives' throughout the year. If you ever find yourself in the middle of one, you'll understand why you can't help but stand and stare. It's so LOUD but so eye-awing. If you have geographic concentrations of customers, why not think of a community event you can put on that will bring folks together for a mutual gain.
Kodak realized that their traditional method of showing an ad about a camera and just talking a load of spiel about the components and features was getting them nowhere. So they spiked up their courage and took a risk. They reached out to their followers across all social media platforms and asked them to send in pictures they had taken with their Kodak camera. After millions of pictures were sent in, Kodak chose a bunch that were featured in their new ad’s on TV. This has been an on-going theme for the company every year due to the sheer publicity and involvement it reigned in. Kodak brings out a variety of featured brand video's with actual customers. This way it avoids having to pay the cost of hiring actors and comes across in a more GENUINE less fabricated way. Perhaps you don't have the budget for a TV or Radio ad (not many do), so instead get a camera and do a little social brand video or figure out ways you can get your customers to send their own footage in like Kodak did. Simple, Smart, Successful.
Well there's Part II for you! - Hope you found this useful, if you have any comments of your own or suggestions please feel free to write them below. Also, if you'd like to be notified for when Part III is available, click HERE!
Thanks for reading!