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Measuring and Motivating Brand Advocates: The State of the Science
 

Measuring and Motivating Brand Advocates: The State of the Science

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In this ebook, Eric Paquette and Kevin Clancy deliver a first-hand account about how marketers have built a superior base of knowledge about their Brand Advocates to create a true competitive ...

In this ebook, Eric Paquette and Kevin Clancy deliver a first-hand account about how marketers have built a superior base of knowledge about their Brand Advocates to create a true competitive advantage.

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    Measuring and Motivating Brand Advocates: The State of the Science Measuring and Motivating Brand Advocates: The State of the Science Document Transcript

    • 1
    • Introduction When the topic of brand advocacy comes up in conversation these days, you can usually catch marketers straining to listen from across the room, if only to grab a tidbit of insight into how to find and motivate this somewhat mysterious group, widely acknowledged to play a critical role in marketing. It’s true that marketers have always loved Brand Advocates—a group we define as consumers who not only use a brand, but also love it and want to help others get to know it—because they, among many other marketing-related benefits, help to build awareness, positive perceptions, trial of brands, and ultimately customer loyalty. Today, however, there’s a confluence of events that’s driving up their perceived value to marketers: • The growing importance of word-of-mouth to marketing. According to Nielsen’s most recent Global Trust in Advertising report, 92% of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family above all forms of advertising—an increase of 18% since 2007. • The explosion of digital technologies, social media, and Facebook in particular. Cutting across the ages, 62% of adults worldwide now use social media. Social networking is the most popular online activity with 22% of time online spent on channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. • The focus on the loyalty end of path to purchase. According to IBM’s Global Chief Marketing Officers study, “CMOs see customer loyalty as their top priority in the digital era,” and their absolute main concern “is to enhance customer loyalty and encourage satisfied customers to advocate for their brands.” In addition to their propensity to share brand information and experiences, Advocates can have more street cred with other consumers looking for guidance on a purchase decision than the company selling the brand.©2012 by Kevin Clancy & Eric Paquette “Industry experts and big-time social media influencers may seem attractiveCopyright holder is licensing this under the Creative Commons License, Attribution 3.0. to marketers. But often, the regular Joe is the most powerful type of advocatehttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us out there and can have the greatest effect on his friends and family,” 2 3
    • explained Kimberly Maul, a writer/analyst for eMarketer. “By leveraging costs, especially as they feel increasingly inspired to share their feelings andconnections with these everyday influencers, brands can amplify word-of- bring members of their social network into a brand’s user fold. mouth online and increase engagement.” Marketers can find Advocates, of course, on the upper, most passionateThough their efforts are hardly limited to online channels and social end of the affinity scale and represent an unmistakably attractive targetnetworks, Advocates clearly have an ever-widening number of digital, social, in terms of costs-savings and revenue-generation. As a banking CMO inand mobile tools to more quickly, broadly, and effectively communicate with the US testified, Advocates “provide you with immeasurably valuable freeother consumers. Not surprisingly, “creating brand advocates is a big part marketing.” They often use and buy the brand with greater frequency asof a brand’s social media efforts,” said social media strategist Ted Rubin. well. Perhaps the biggest contribution they make to the brand, however,Ferreting out the true Brand Advocates from among a brand’s fans and comes from the invaluable role they play in drawing other consumers towardfollowers has become a growing obsession among marketers looking to a brand along the path-to-purchase.strengthen relationships with this group. Debate about the size, shape, direction, and even the very existence of aAdvocates also play a key role in growing brand loyalty and, even better, purchase funnel has raged on for a few years now. Regardless of where theyaffinity, something with which many brands continuously struggle. The net out on the funnel issue, most marketers agree identifying which amongAmerican Customer Satisfaction Index, for example, reported that the the exploding number of opportunities to influence a consumer’s purchasecross-industry satisfaction average hovers around 76%—a “C” grade—and decision will produce the highest return on investment has become a criticalhasn’t budged for two years. The lower the level of satisfaction, the higher and often frustratingly complex process.the likelihood the customer won’t purchase the brand again. Not surprisingly, “What’s changed is the sheer number of potential sources of informationa Bain Consulting study found the average company loses 20%–40% of its that might sway the consumer toward one brand or another and one channelcustomers every year. or distributor or another,” explained our colleague Peter Krieg in a recentBrand Advocates have a deeper connection than just simple brand loyalty. interview on the topic.To quote Debbie DeGabrielle, CMO of Visible Technologies, “brand loyalty “Obviously it’s easier and faster than ever for the consumer to accesshas its limitations.” Loyalty is often behavioral—consistently purchasing one multitudes of information, compare prices, and purchase locations. It’s alsobrand versus another—and sometimes is more a function of history, habit, easier and faster for them to share opinions, reviews, and news with others.” or inertia than an intensely strong conviction the These opinions, reviews, and news show up in brand provides a unique or exceptional value. more places that are easily accessible to consumers With brand affinity, on the other hand, there is throughout the purchase and post-purchase that intensity of conviction—that much sought process. Because of the inherent credibility of after “emotional connection,” and more personal information sourced from fellow consumers, these identification with and passion for a brand. opinions, recommendations, and stories often act as Consumers who express affinity kick in on the that last “moment of truth” trigger to purchase. revenue generation side with a lower likelihood of switching brands and help drive down marketing 4 5
    • Brand Advocates frequently facilitate prime early experiences with a brand While few would argue about the perceived potential of Brand Advocatesfor new consumers. Advocates know their favorite brands in and out; they to smooth the progress of interactions and transactions along the path toknow which products/services are ‘good,’ which are really special or great. purchase, the bigger and, naturally, harder question for marketers toThey can, therefore, authoritatively guide new consumers to the best parts of answer is how “real” is the group’s value? How much—if any—time andthe brand and away from some of the “so-so” products/services. Advocates resources should go into engaging and broadening relationships withalso tend to know the in’s and out’s of ordering or purchasing a brand. They Advocates on- and off-line? The IBM CMO study we mentioned earlier alsoknow, for example, where it’s always in stock, or where to locate a hard-to- found that nearly two-thirds of CMOs think return on marketing investmentfind size, color, etc., so Advocates can help new consumers find what they will be the primary measure of their effectiveness by 2015, so it goeswant more easily and efficiently. without saying that marketers looking to get the most out of their increasinglyFinally, because Brand Advocates really know a brand, they are often very precious marketing dollars want to make the most effective and efficientgood “targeters.” They know who will—and who won’t—really enjoy a brand decisions.and often make sure that those new consumers most likely to love a brand There are many working assumptions and hypotheses currently circulatingare the ones that they introduce it to in the first place. about the value of Advocates, where they fall on marketing’s priority list, and their impact in driving a brand’s sales through social media. Rather thanAs Eric Paquette, co-author of this chapter, noted recently “consumers who base decisions on generalities, we’d suggest marketers get an in-depthare introduced to a brand by a Brand Advocate are considerably more likely understanding of the size and scope of the profit-enhancing opportunityto become Brand Advocates themselves.” Advocates hold as a group for their individual brand based on a big-picture“Brand Advocates steer new consumers away from potentially problematic perspective of:experiences with the product or its delivery that could disrupt a positive • Who they are? brand experience and taint their relationship with the brand when it’s just • How many are there? forming. Brand Advocates are also sure to seek out and introduce those • How do you identify them? most likely to really connect with the brand.” • What is the best way to communicate withBrand Advocates are essentially the double-sided Scotch tape of the path to and motivate them?purchase. They’re stuck on a brand and can get others stuck too at a variety of • How do you integrate this knowledge into theimportant junctures along the consumer journey—in-the-moment places and brand’s overall marketing strategy? touchpoints to which marketers may or may not have knowledge of or access. As is the case with many things in business, the companies that create a true“Brand awareness is not enough today,”said Javier Herrero-Velarde, CMO of Spanish “Brand Advocates are essentially competitive advantage do so through superior knowledge and it’s no lessbrewing company Mahous-San Miguel, “you the double-sided Scotch tape of the case with Brand Advocates.have to build an emotional link as well.” the path to purchase.”Advocates can serve as that emotional bridgebetween companies and their customers. 6 7
    • Who Are They? There Are Those Who Advocate with others. They could just as easily switch brands the next time they makeand Then There Are Advocates a purchase in the category and share that recommendation and thoseOne of the bigger issues muddying the waters when it comes to assessing experiences with their social networks.the value of Brand Advocates and identifying them for marketing purposes Likewise, there are people in almost every category who can and willis the variety of definitions of the concept. Many companies doing work in influence the purchase decisions of others. They answer “yes” to questionsthis area have working definitions for brand advocacy that find individuals such as “I spend more time reading, writing, talking, and thinking aboutwilling to participate in sharing and recommending activities. While it is likely this product category than the average consumer,” and “my friends,that these efforts to increase advocacy have resulted in expanded reach of family, and colleagues generally perceive me as more knowledgeablemarketing messages, particularly on social networks, it is less clear that these about this product category,” that self-identify them as “influentials” in aactivities have really targeted Brand Advocates. particular category. While they do like to share theirWhat’s also not quite clear to us is how well some of these working definitions knowledge with others, especially on social channels,help companies prioritize Advocates in terms of ROI potential and maximize they are driven to do so by an interest in athat potential in the form of incremental sales and loyalty for a brand. category or industry, not necessarily—or evenIt’s true that in many categories, a good number of consumers will routinely—by affection for any one brand.“advocate” for your brand on a paid or, preferably, unpaid/unsponsored Aside from unclear levels of loyalty, affinity,basis. More and more, companies are building advocacy-related programs and reliability, another challenge presented byinto their overall plan to encourage consumers in general to share and adopting a broad definition of a “Brand Advocate” isdisseminate brand information. As part of its new CoverGirl “Smoky Eye that members of the group are much more likely toLook” makeup kit, for instance, P&G used online advertising and Facebook be heterogeneous than homogeneous. Odds areto encourage consumers to try the product and write a review. By way that the characteristics that help marketers—of another example, Ford picked out 100 twenty-something YouTube items such as demographics, needs, interests,storytellers who’d developed a fan community of their own and gave them media preferences, sizes of social networks, andeach a new Fiesta for 6 months. In exchange, Ford asked them to share their types of brand actions and information that willexperience with their communities via social channels including YouTube, deepen their bond with the brand and inspireTwitter, and Facebook on a monthly basis. them to act in ways that benefit it—of a large and diverseEven when it is an unsolicited, unprompted, or unincentivized behavior— group are likely to be more different than similar. We can’t help but wondersuch as posting a positive review on Yelp or YouTube, recommending a about the relative effectiveness of messages and programs designed tobrand to friends on Facebook, or tweeting how much you are enjoying your reach and motivate such a big and broad audience to respond and act withpumpkin spice latté at Starbucks—a single act or indication of advocacy similar levels of support and enthusiasm.does not in and of itself reflect devout loyalty to and/or passion for a True, there are a handful of marketers monetarily and technologicallybrand. It does not indicate whether a company can or should comfortably equipped to tailor specific one-to-one messages to each individual that hasrely on an individual to buy a brand, engage with it, and share experiences expressed an interest in the brand and willingness to share. Still, it’s hard to 8 9
    • imagine that the return from that level of personalization on key performance It’s not that they don’t love whatmeasures including revenues, profits, and loyalty is incredibly high. If a major a brand offers or consistentlyplus of targeting Advocates is the cost-savings they deliver—all that “free Brand Users delivers—many in the loyalistmarketing” via word-of-mouth and broad distribution—marketing programs group do—they just prefertailored to a specific individual intended to inspire them to share with their to more or less keep it towider social networks doesn’t sound like the most efficient course of action. 20–30% “Regular” themselves, or are just not quite CustomersThe defining feature that distinguishes consumers who express a as passionate as Advocates. Aswillingness to promote a brand and Brand Advocates is a passionate a result, even though they tendconnection to a brand—that affinity-generated stickiness—built on 15–20% “Loyalists” to be a larger group, loyalists areusage, interaction, and experience. It’s because of this connection that probably not the best target ifAdvocates naturally want to support a brand by helping other consumers the communications objective 5-10%interact with it. What’s more, it’s because of this connection that Advocates is to achieve greater message “Advocates”offer an inherent value to brands—they are loyal customers in their own right distribution.and a reliable source of behavior that’s beneficial to a brand. As we discussed in the previousEric once clarified for a client looking to understand the difference between section, there are those whoadvocacy and Brand Advocate strategies that “there is getting a bigger advocate and then there are Brand Advocates. It’s true that becoming agroup of people to do things for the brand—such as ‘share’ news or Facebook fan, or participating in a brand’s loyalty program, could be formsrecommend the brand—that Brand Advocates naturally do, and then there of brand advocacy. However, each and every Facebook fan or loyaltyis growing the number of true Brand Advocates, which requires a more database member is not necessarily a true Brand Advocate. In our workfundamental connection generated through genuine experiences with the for clients, we have discovered more Brand Advocates on social networkingbrand.” sites and in fan or loyalty program databases than in the general population of brand customers, but most are not Brand Advocates.How Many Are There? Brand Advocacy and the Emotional As an example, we typically find that a brand’s Facebook fans areConnection Potential of the Category 1 ½–2 ½ times more likely than average to be Brand Advocates. For aIntriguingly, when passion and brand usage are added to the definition, we brand that has 8% of customers as Brand Advocates, that means that onlyfind most brands have very few true Brand Advocates. In the categories 12% –20% of Facebook fans will be Brand Advocates. Notably, brandsin which we have worked, we typically find about 5%–10% of customers that have invested heavy time and energy into expanding their Facebookqualify as Brand Advocates. There’s often a larger “second tier” of loyalists fan base with off-brand-strategy promotions should expect to find athat don’t have quite the same intensity of passion as Advocates or natural lower percentage of Advocates among fans. Yes, these promotions tendinclination to facilitate interactions between other consumers and the brand, to increase the number of Facebook fans, but they also tend to attractrepresenting about 15%–20% of customers. consumers who do not have strong connections to the brand and who wouldn’t have otherwise become fans. Having these less impassioned fans 10 11
    • is not necessarily a bad thing. Marketers just need to recognize they aren’t It did appear, however, that an emotional connection was more readilydriving large numbers of Brand Advocates to their page with those types of formed in certain product categories. The four categories with the largestpromotions. percentage of consumers reporting a moderate or strong connection were: Importantly, there isn’t a uniformly large and active population of Brand • Cola soft drinks (39% reporting strong or moderate emotional connection)Advocates that each and every brand in each and every category has at • Beer (37%) their disposal. There will be varying numbers and degrees of activity among • Personal computers (33%) Advocates of different brands. • Ground coffee (31%)Most brands have Advocates but only some will exceed by leaps and The same appears to be true when it comes to Brand Advocates. In somebounds the category average. It’s not a big stretch of the imagination to categories—including, for instance, more mundane consumer packagedsuppose that iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macbooks, and Apple in general have a goods—there are limitations as to how passionately most consumers willmuch higher percentage of Brand Advocates relative to other brands in the ever feel about their preferred brand, no matter what marketers do. Theycategory in which it competes—not to mention most brands in general. might be loyalists because they see the value in what a brand provides, butApple didn’t achieve these exceptional numbers simply they’re just not going to feel the same level of intense love that they mightbecause of the conduciveness of its category to the for other brands that they use.formation of emotional bonds and opportunities to Other categories—colleges and universities and sports teams, by way ofadvocate. It did it by solving a pretty major problem example—more naturally lend themselves to developing strong affinityconsumers were having with PCs—they were frustrating and and passion for a brand because of the way the products and services insometimes incomprehensible to use—by offering a product the category are experienced, and/or the role or function they play in athat was the exact opposite—user-friendly and easy to use. person’s life (i.e., entertainment). These categories might also present moreOne of Steve Jobs’ many claims to fame was his religious opportunities for experience-sharing, campaigning, and promotion.focus on making Apple’s products “plug and play.” While there are these general tendencies for categories to have more orThe company stayed razor-focused on that positioning and pretty fewer Brand Advocates, exceptional brands have more Advocates thanconsistently delivered on it. It was/is easy for customers to love Apple and weaker brands, and there are instances where strong brands have largehave those feelings develop into the level of personal identification with the numbers of Advocates in relatively mundane categories.brand that’s the envy of the business community. Every marketer out there has that same opportunity to encourageWhen Copernicus and Greenfield Online surveyed a nationally representative strong, affinity-level connections with customers by dependably solvingsample of consumers on their “personal or emotional connection with their their problems with products or services. In our own work, we have foundpreferred brand” across a variety of product and service categories, less that the brands that have a compelling positioning strategy, one based on athan 10% on average claimed a “strong” connection. Just 20%–25% of real customer problem—something consumers need or want that productsconsumers on average reported even a moderate emotional connection to in the category could solve for them, but no brand currently does—also havea brand. the most and strongest advocates. 12 13
    • In 40+ years of working with B2C and B2B How Do You Identify Them: Measuring Brand Advocacycompanies to develop and launch marketing Tackling brand advocacy on a variety of fronts serves six informationstrategies, we have discovered time and time objectives:again that the bigger the problem a brandsolves for the target consumer, the bigger 1. Finding the criteria that filter out the likers—customers who thinkthe emotional—and market—response. you’re OK—and leaves in the lovers.As Kevin Clancy, the fellow co-author of this 2. Understanding what the lovers are doing to help others to experiencechapter, explained in a conversation with a the brand for direction on the types of programs to put in place.client about the potential to grow the number 3. Estimating their value to guide investment decisions.of Brand Advocates, “when brands really ‘live’ 4. Identifying the drivers of their passion to help foster similar feelingsa powerful brand positioning, deliver against it among the brand’s customer base at large.from an execution perspective, and act in more 5. Quantifying their “reach”—getting a feel for how broadly they willengaging ways, it stands to reason that they distribute a message to determine the potential multiplier effect.would get more people who would be attached 6. Determining what messages and content they would like that wouldenough to be considered an Advocate.” deepen the relationship and enable their advocacy efforts.Getting back to the matter at hand, speculating We’ll go on record right up front and say that single-measures of advocacyabout the number of advocates a brand has, are simply not enough to get at a consumer’s level of devotion or value. Ittheir value to a brand, where they can be found requires a few different sets of questions to build a superior knowledge-base,in higher concentrations (i.e., which market starting with the level of affection and attachment consumers have for thesegments, which media channels—particularly brand.which social channels), and why they love the Sometimes focus groups and in-depth interviews with heavy users are abrand won’t get marketers very far. good source of inspiration on how customers articulate their feelings aboutWhenever we hear statements such as a brand. Statements that might help gauge affinity, attachment, affection,“determining which loyal customers have the passion, personal identification, a sense of shared values, etc., might include:ability to be influential advocates in social NEITHER STRONGLY SOMEWHAT AGREE/NOR SOMEWHAT STRONGLYmedia may be the biggest missed opportunity AGREE AGREE DISAGREE DISAGREE DISAGREEfor brand marketers today,” from Phil Mershon -5 -4 -3 -2 -1at the Social Media Examiner, we feel the • This brand is made for people just like meurgent need to bring some rigor to the process • If the brand were gone I would really miss it.of identifying Brand Advocates to make certain • I love spending time with the brand.marketers make smart, high-return decisions to • My friends and I love to talk about the brand.take advantage of that opportunity. • I feel a sense of community with the people who use the brand. 14 15
    • • My life is happier and healthier because of the brand. • Posted a YouTube video about the brand • The brand is perfect for people like me. • Recommended the brand to friends/family • The brand clearly is the best product/service in the category. • Forwarded the email I got from the brand to friends/family • My family loves this brand. Logically, there’s also a more customized set of behaviors. Depending on the • Using this brand is a big part of who I am. category, brands might also ask if customers have: • I wish I could be more involved in helping others appreciate the brand. • The brand shares similar values to my own. • Taken friends to the restaurant for the first time • Served the brand when entertainingSome of these expressions of affinity will cut across categories—“if the • Pinned the brand’s product to their Pinterest boardbrand were gone I would really miss it,” as an example. The list should most • Called in to a radio show to support/defend the branddefinitely include language that’s specific to the category and brand—“the • Reviewed the brand’s product on Amazonbrand is my kind of place” might apply to an entertainment venue, a retailer,or restaurant, where as “the brand is the best product/service on the Asking questions that reveal how often and how much Advocates aremarket” might fit the bill for a consumer packaged good. doing things such as using the brand, going to a restaurant, taking others to the restaurant, giving the brand as a gift, etc., will helpComing up with a list of 25–30 different expressions is not overkill by establish their value to the brand.any means. The end goal is to find the measures of passion mostpredictive of advocacy behaviors and winnow this big list down to a more One restaurant chain we worked with found that while Brand Advocatesmanageable 4–10 that can be used in the future to ID advocates among, say, visited the restaurant the same number of times in an average month asa brand’s Facebook fan base or in a loyalty program database. The bigger frequent users, they introduced the brand to other people three timesthe list, the higher the likelihood of identifying the indicators of affinity that as often. There’s no doubt that Brand Advocates do positive things forbest correlate with supportive and promotional behavior and getting to the the brand’s business and bottomline, but marketers have to know howcustomers who are most deeply engaged with a brand. much financial return they should expect from the group to select an appropriate level of investment. Ultimately, marketers have to justifyAnother thorough list to pull together is a set of behaviors that reflect what decisions to senior management based on financial criteria, and programscustomers are doing to express how they feel about the brand and encourage targeted to Brand Advocates don’t often get special dispensation.others to learn about or try it. As with the measures of passion, more accuratelypinpointing how a brand’s Advocates currently behave often requires a A NOTE OF CAUTION: While frequency should be a measure ofdecent-sized list. Almost any brand might ask a customer if they have: advocacy, it is not the only measure, and in isolation is not a very good • Posted something positive about the brand on my one. It’s true that most Advocates are heavy users of a brand, but only Facebook page or Twitter account a small percentage of heavy users are Advocates. Finding a heavy user • Shared news or stories about the brand with others means you found someone who buys your brand a lot, not someone who is • Defended the brand to others who were critical of it necessarily deeply engaged—or even all that loyal—to your brand. • Given it as a gift to friends/family 16 17
    • Discover the Drivers of Affinity: Why Do They Love Me? There’s not a marketer out there who wouldn’t like to get inside the minds of Relationship Between Affinity, Use and Advocacy deeply engaged customers to find out what it is that got them to love their brand. After all, if a marketer knew what drove their love, he or she would work to ensure that other customers were exposed to those same drivers. e ag % of Heavy Users Us At the same time marketers are collecting data about expressions of affinity d Who Are an and advocacy behaviors, they should take down some personal brand Br io rs Advocates av history from customers. Just as a medical assistant might ask a patient when Beh cy they first noticed symptoms, find out when and how a customer became ca vo a customer and what they have experienced since then. Did someone Ad % of Advocates Who Are introduce them? Who and under what circumstances? As we said earlier, Heavy Users when a Brand Advocate introduces someone to a brand, that person is more Level of Affinity for Brand likely to become a Brand Advocate. As part of the personal brand history, marketers should ask about what traditional and digital advertising customers have heard/seen about the brandBefore we move on to the other sets of questions to pose, we wanted and what messages they’ve heard/seen. Was there something about the brand’sto jump ahead to describe the analysis process that culls down the list of positioning strategy or story that broke through the clutter and resonated?expressions of affinity from large to highly-focused. After collecting data Zappos, the online retailer of “more than shoes,” has focused on positioningin a large-scale quantitative survey where customers are asked how much itself as delivering consistent and exceptional customer service. Paidthey agree or disagree with the list of 25–30 possible measures of affinity advertising has ranged from felt puppets voiced by real customer servicestatements, marketers should determine the combinations and levels of calls to dressing naked models—real people as opposed to the Bar Refaeli’sagreement that best indicate big “spikes” in advocacy behaviors. In other of the world. The personal narratives of the firm’s founder, Tony Hseih, havewords, marketers should look for the subset of measures and the threshold centered around “delivering happiness” and cultivating the personal goalsof agreement where suddenly advocacy behaviors takeoff. of employees and positivity in the work place. Any or all of these thingsIn our work, we index the total scores on a scale from 0–100. Giving a “5– may have gotten through to customers and contributed to the high levelstrongly agree” to each statement would earn an index score of 100, for of affection the seemingly larger-than-average group of Zappos’ Brandexample. We have observed for brands in very diverse categories ranging Advocates feel for it.from pet food to restaurants, OTC medications to sports teams, advocacy When it comes to the specific products or services the brand offers, what havebehaviors tend to pick up dramatically when the 4–10 measures of affection the interactions been like? A consumer packaged goods manufacturer mighthit an index score of 91–100. like to know which of the brand’s products and line extensions customers have interacted with, in what channels, and on what occasions. Meanwhile, a 18 19
    • sports team might like to know what type of ticket holder (i.e., season, luxury Aside from which channels to concentrate on, the other major componentbox, etc.) the customer was and stadium services the customer used. of communications is the message. What do Brand Advocates want to knowThe end goal with this line of questioning is to compare Advocates to non- that would maintain their level of excitement and affection for the brand?Advocates to see which experiences and interactions pop out and could Again, exploring this issue as part of the research among customers pays offserve as potential indicators of what got them to their heightened love- when it comes to developing and launching successful programs targetedstate. Incorporating these kinds of insights about the drivers of affinity into to Advocates. One prevailing theory out there now is that cause-relatedprograms targeted to current Brand Advocates and into loyalty programs and corporate social responsibility programs deepen a customer’s sense oftargeted to the broader customer base could deepen relationships all around. shared values with a brand. Does it do anything for Advocates? Does news about a brand’s green initiative, for example, increase Advocates’ affinity for the brand? Just as importantly, is it the type of news they want to share inHow Big Is Their Reach and What Do They Want to Know social channels or elsewhere because it demonstrates what they love mostOne of the major appeals of Brand Advocates is their power to amplify a about the brand? In some cases it might be. In others there may be littlemarketer’s message. According to Forrester Research, each time a consumer interest.posts something on the social web it reaches a minimum of 150 people, butwhat exactly is the scale of a Brand Advocate’s reach in social networks, on At this point in time, it’s well-established that Facebook’s EdgeRank weightsthe web, and in the real-world among their circle of family and friends? different types of content more heavily than others as it serves up newsIn order to determine what kind of marketing multiplier effect they might from different sources on user pages. If Advocates appear to have a wideexpect from their Brand Advocates, marketers should include in their survey distribution network on Facebook and/or if it’s a social media channel ofof customers questions such as: import to the company, marketers could help themselves by determining what kind content—videos, photos, newslinks, etc.—as well as the subject • HOW MANY Facebook friends do you have? matter the group would most like to share. As mobile becomes a bigger • HOW MANY Twitter followers do you have? factor in social communication, determining more specifically the types of • HOW MANY LinkedIn connections? content or messages Advocates like to share via a mobile device might give • DO YOU blog? How many readers? marketers a bigger head start in that area as well. • DO YOU post on online forums and bulletin boards? • DO YOU post YouTube videos? How many views? “Connecting with the right audiences, at the right time, with the right • HOW LARGE is your circle of friends/family? message in the right place is the mantra of digital marketing,” relayed this year’s CMO Summit State of Marketing report. By delving more into theImportantly we’re not suggesting marketers ask about a consumer’s level of specifics of the scale of distribution across channels or in specific high-priorityinfluence within these social circles as they might when developing influencer ones, subject matter, and typescommunications. In this case, marketers are looking to understand how of content, marketers can better “Connecting with the right audiences,much they can leverage their Advocates’ innate interest in sharing extend the reach and magnify the at the right time, with the rightinformation about the brand. They want to get some confirmation that strength of their communications.targeting Advocates would achieve wider message distribution, on which message in the right place...”social and digital channels, and plan accordingly. 20 21
    • The Big Picture: Advocates end up in the primary target segment—not that every individual Integrating Advocates into in that target segment will be an Advocate, but that most Advocates will be Overall Marketing Strategy members of the target segment. If a brand is going to invest resources in As we’ve intimated a few times along the marketing to that target group, better to be reaching Advocates than not way in this chapter, some of the insights reaching them. gathered about Advocates can be applied We recommend to marketers that they take a profit-directed approach to to the customer base at large. Insights into market segmentation and include a variety of financial and non-financialthe drivers of affinity, for instance, can inform loyalty efforts. With something measures of economic value to the brand, advocacy being one of them. Inlike 90% of consumers participating in one or more loyalty or rewards most instances, we have found Brand Advocates are primarily in the segmentprograms, understanding what actions and messages might more quickly that holds the highest profit potential for the brand. There have been someand productively convert regular customers into loyalists, and loyalists into clients, however, where the concentration has been more dispersed.advocates will enhance performance and profitability. A sports team we worked with, by way of example, discovered a healthyClearing up some of the mystery about why Advocates love a brand so much number of Advocates in a somewhat less economically attractive segment ofcan also help to refine and focus positioning strategy. If elements of the the team’s fan base. We had identified a segment with the highest potentialcurrent positioning and brand story have been acting as drivers of affinity, a profitability to the team and recommended that it primarily target thismarketer might consider ways to build from those or find new or better ways group with marketing efforts. Because the segment that a good numberto deliver against them to set a new course for positioning, rather than start of the team’s Brand Advocates belonged to didn’t have the same level ofcompletely from scratch. disposable income to spend on games, park services, team paraphernalia,Avis, the leading car rental company in the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty etc., as a whole it did not hold the same ROI potential for marketingEngagement Index 13 years running, recently dumped its long-standing investments as the recommended target group.positioning strategy of dedication to making the customer happy— Though the team chose to focus marketing and fan outreach efforts primarilyembodied in the tagline “we try harder”—for one centered around, on the recommended overall target group, when it came to marketing“elevating the role of rental cars in the lives of business travelers.” We to Brand Advocates specifically, it knew it would need a different set ofcan’t help but wonder, though, if the sentiment of “we try harder,” efforts programs and tactics to activate Advocates in both the less- and more-to “enhance the car rental experience,” and corporate messages such income constrained segments.as “treating people like people” that emanated from Avis’ long-standingpositioning remained an intrinsic part of its Brand Advocates’ feelings of Once marketers have determined that set of 4–10 measures of passionaffection and that dumping it all together was premature. that best predict advocacy behaviors through a larger-scale research effort, they can use them to identify Advocates in specific media and internalIf advocacy measurement research is done as part of a larger market databases. Marketers might like to know in the database of Facebook fans,segmentation exercise, as it sometimes is, paying attention to the for example, who are the Brand Advocates to target more diligently withconcentration of Advocates in the different market segments also provides content and messaging developed based on the stated preferences ofvaluable messaging and programming guidance. It’d be great to have most Advocates in general. 22 23
    • The IBM CMO study we mentioned at the beginning of this chapter foundthat many executives “don’t understand what triggers customers to ‘follow’ Superior knowledge that leads to appropriatetheir organizations.” Almost 70% believe that customers interact with them levels of marketing investment and more effectivevia social media “to get information, express an opinion and feel connected and efficient programs will help brands moveto their brand—whereas, in reality customers are most interested in ahead of the competition. The marketers who findreceiving tangible value.” Similar to the findings from studies done by other the criteria specific to a brand to filter out the likersorganizations, when asked why they choose to follow a company, consumers from the lovers; identify what actions and typeslist as top reasons: of experience-sharing Advocates are doing; get a better picture of their financial and marketing • 61% getting discounts value to a brand and why they like it so much; and • 55% making purchases determine what messages and content will resonate • 33% to feel connected to the company best will have all the critical pieces of informationWith so much emphasis on demonstrating and improving the ROI of they need to guide prioritization, planning, andsocial programs, having a better way to segment databases of fans execution of efforts targeted to Brand Advocates.and followers to target tactics and messages more effectively to theAdvocates who will really do something of value for the brand woulddefinitely have a positive impact on performance. Superior Knowledge = Competitive AdvantageMost marketers agree that fostering loyalty among current customersand motivating advocacy behaviors is primarily an untapped opportunityto improve profitability. At the same time, few would argue that in manycategories brand loyalty is declining faster than the price of Facebook’sstock. Nor would many quibble with the notion that many marketers areunsure what to do about the problem. Drawing one last time from theIBM CMO study, most CMOs report feeling underprepared to deal withdecreasing brand loyalty.Perhaps this is one of the driving reasons behind the big rush to find andengage with Brand Advocates—a group that absolutely loves the brandand wants to help others experience it presents a major opportunityto reverse declining loyalty. Sustainable competitive advantage, however,won’t come from casting a really wide net and qualifying any customer as anAdvocate based on a one- or two-measure definition. 24 25
    • About the Authors KEVIN CLANCY For over three decades, Kevin Clancy has worked with some of the best known and most loved consumer and B2B brands around the world to launch transformational marketing strategies. He is the chairman of Copernicus, a research-driven marketing consulting company with a singular mission: to change the way companies think about and practice marketing. He is also the co-author of seven business books, most recently Your Gut Is Still Not Smarter Than Your Head. His work to push the envelope of marketing research in order to advance the practice of marketing earned him an induction into the prestigious Marketing Research Hall of Fame. Contact: Ami Bowen, ERIC PAQUETTE (617) 449-4179 With nearly two decades of experience working with ami.bowen@copernicusmarketing.com marketers to make informed decisions about their strategies and programs, Eric regularly translates the information and insights that come from good marketing research into effective strategies, programs and tactics, and successful new product and service offerings. A senior vice president at Copernicus, Eric leads the firm’s charge into the digital world and its work in the area of brand advocacy. 26 27
    • Marketing Consulting and Research COPERNICUSMARKETING.COMCOPERNICUS is a research-driven marketing consulting firm in the business of transforming companies. 28