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The key to sustainability and art of brand advocacy.

Nourish advocacy with effective experiential brand experience principles.

 

Brand advocacy is when your Stakeholders positively promote your brand through word-of-mouth, or by posting to their social media networks, in blog posts, on review sites and/or other corners on or off the internet. In turn, that advocacy boosts your brand awareness mostly organically, while increasing return on experience (ROX) and return on investment (ROI).


Taking brand loyalty to the next level is brand advocacy.


However, it is to not be assumed that every loyalist is an advocate. A loyalist can very much keep their amazing experiences with your brand to themselves, while they enjoy it and will continue to indulge, they don’t have to promote it. Advocacy goes far beyond free publicity and loyal Stakeholders.


The journey from loyalist to advocate is strategic and very important.

As with brand loyalists, brand advocates have to be nourished – as it is all about the relationships forged. And brand advocates aren’t limited to certain Stakeholders like customers. There are several groups of Stakeholders who can and should be advocates for your brand within your equity ecosystem, including your employees and partners. 


For that, it’s important to produce a consistent end-to-end brand experience for all Stakeholders at every touchpoint, so that the same experience principles are being positively shared amongst advocates – avoiding one advocate having a different experience causing confusion for future indulgers. 


Why does this matter? For a few major reasons:


  • Improved brand perception: how Stakeholders view your brand which increases trust & advocacy.

  • Brand authenticity: Stakeholders view the information provided by the advocate as more authentic than from the brand.

  • Organic brand awareness: which is invaluable and extremely important in increasing your visibility that leads to the growth and sustainability of the brand.


From customer to employee to partners to influencers and so on, each Stakeholder plays an important role in the journey to advocacy while continuing to nourish the emotions evoked thus far.


Advocacy Programs + Campaigns


Again, brand advocacy refers to the promotion of your brand by those who believe in it and desire for everyone else to get the chance to experience it as well. Most advocates are motivated by a desire to share their experiences with others organically and others may need a structure to move the advocacy needle. An intentional tactic incited by your brand can be in the form of a brand advocacy program or campaign. 


While the former tends to be more authentic, both can be effective. 

One of the best things about brand advocacy is that it costs little to nothing to obtain. Even if you have yet to launch a brand advocacy program or campaign, you likely already have advocates working on your behalf. Creating a system to support is a win win.



Strategically infusing emotions + feelings.


As with  brand loyalty, emotions play a critical role in shaping advocacy, with the emotional connection shaped by various factors like personal identity, shared values, trust, and emotions evoked through your experiential principles - typically before the advocacy stage.


Emotionally predisposed Stakeholders make the best brand advocates.

Although emotionally predisposed advocates can be new, through word of mouth and social media, most emotionally predisposed brand advocates will be funneled through your brand equity ecosystem as a complete Stakeholder who's had a memorable end-to-end experience with your brand, repeatedly. A community of emotionally predisposed advocates is a huge asset for organic growth and sustainability.


Identifying your experiential principles and intentionally focusing on your Stakeholders who, by their nature, associate their desires, aspirations and values to your brand and its experience, will harness their intrinsic connections and advocacy behaviors.



Brand Advocacy as a ROX metric.


Brand advocacy drives growth, both in experience and revenue. 


A key measurement metric needed to gauge brand advocacy is a Sentiment Analysis, in conjunction with standard B2B metrics.  Understanding how Stakeholders feel about your business, brand, products, or services is crucial to sustaining advocacy.


Stakeholder Sentiment


As with brand loyalty a Sentiment Analysis for brand advocacy is the process of detecting positive or negative sentiment. We primarily use it to detect sentiment in data, gauge brand reputation, and understand stakeholders emotions in regards to your brand experience.


There are four types of sentiment analysis: Fine-Grained, Emotion-Detection, Aspect-Based, and Intent- Based through two methods: machine-learning and lexicon-based approaches. We focus on one primary type of sentiment – emotion-detection through a machine-learning approach – to dissect and define Stakeholder return on experience and advocacy.


Emotion detection uses more advanced machine learning techniques to analyze more complex emotions like fear, anger, sadness, love, frustration, or whichever designated emotions you’ve strategically evoked through your brand experience – rather than the other three sentiment analysis.  


Although there are a few challenges to emotion detection – as it involves more resources and investments upfront–this method helps to measure the subtleties within an emotion and analyze the motives, behaviors, thoughts, feelings and impulses of Stakeholders – especially in regards to brand advocacy.


B2B metrics


After a fair sentiment assessment, there are several standard key performance indicators (KPIs) that can measure the success of your brand advocacy program, in addition to the sentiment analysis, including the following metrics:


  • Reach: This measures the number of people who have seen or been exposed to the brand advocacy content – UGC or otherwise.

  • Conversion rate: This measures the percentage of people who take a desired action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, after interacting with the brand advocacy content.

  • Cost per acquisition (CPA): This measures the cost of acquiring a new Stakeholder through the brand advocacy program, if applicable.

  • Lifetime value (LTV): This measures the total value of a Stakeholder over the course of their relationship with your brand – equity ecosystem.

  • Retention rate: This will tell you how many Stakeholders you gained or lost.


As mentioned, brand advocacy program data can tell you a lot about your Stakeholders advocacy experience and you should check in on the success of your initiatives regularly.


Approach in Action.


Building communities to impact advocacy is not a new idea for brands but rarely done consistently across B2C and B2B categories. However, this objective becomes far more attainable with emotionally predisposed Stakeholders and leveraging their precise motivations driving their advocacy behaviors, then forging + blending organic communities together that support advocacy.


Let’s tie it all together and take a quick look at Above and Beyond The Playground.


Above and Beyond The Playground is a nonprofit organization committed to creating hope and opportunity for student-athletes beyond the game. Founded by a former athlete, advancing to the highest levels within his career, reaching back into the community who supported and advocated for him with resources, both tangible + intangible, needed to endure the journey beyond the game. 


Over four years, with an extensive experiential rebrand strategy, we birthed, nurtured and expanded a community of F.A.N.S [friends, ambassadors, networkers, and supporters] devoted to advancing the brand through advocacy that extends beyond tangible benefits. 


Let’s break down the advocacy experience in the manner in which we discussed brand advocacy above: its importance, strategically infusing emotions + feelings, and measuring ROX. 


The Importance: Brand advocacy was determined to be the highest equitable driver for this experience, as the nonprofit industry has 1.4 million nonprofits alone – there is no shortage of options for Stakeholders to choose from – making advocacy much more important in aiding Stakeholders in weeding through who to engage and invest with & why.


Leveraging the organic resources already available to the brand, we set out to intentionally curate an ecosystem that provided the established predisposed advocates a tool to organize their advocacy and an ecosystem that supported their organic efforts – efforts of those who embodied the mission and its impact without instruction. We rolled out The Student-Athlete Connection , an end-to-end journey that would nourish and attract advocates in four crucial areas essential to brand advocacy, sustainability, and growth. This area equated to about 60% of the overall experience strategy.


Strategically Infusing Emotions + Feelings: Four experiential principles were identified along with corresponding emotions + feelings needed to maintain the predisposed advocates subconscious mind which guides them within the decision-making process to continue to support their advocacy actions – repeatedly. The tactics involved being proof of promise, which stated: to create hope and opportunity for student-athletes for life beyond the game through the use of our gifts, talents, effort, and love for the game, for the betterment of our communities and families we serve.


Return on Experience: Over the course of 4 years an advocacy community of 150+ was nourished and sustained – resulting in all desired outcomes being met. The community was responsible for approximately 554k in support + revenue across multiple mediums that provided advocates tools to move the brand and advocacy forward through: 3 private FANS community events where advocates were given exclusive access to spread awareness on the brands new offerings and redesigned brand architecture, a Private FANS community space within a private membership platform for all Stakeholders within the brand, an exclusive FANS membership community with tiers to honor the advocates loyalty and efforts, 3 annual large scale Galas – one resulting in $75,000 raised from 10 advocates within a thirty minutes of the silent auction beginning, and most notably, a $10,000 grant with a renovated Hope & Opportunity Center packed with new gym equipment, 10+ MacBooks, a digital content studio, and more - donated through a FANS community members business. 


Additional outcomes of 96.2% retention, 77% referrals, an overall 320.8% increase to the bottom line since its official launch – advocacy has continued to propel the brand made by the people, for the people. 


Although the above is just a portion of the customized experiential brand experience strategy for Above and Beyond The Playground, brand advocacy equated and contributed to the overall brand health and longevity for the Ecosystem.






Understanding brand advocacy and how beneficial it is to both your brand and its Stakeholders is critical to long term brand sustainability, increase in experience, and the complete bottom line.


To learn more about how loyalty can propel your brand’s experience, speak to an experience manager here.


 

An Intuitive Empath and Chief Experience Officer of Branperience with over 17 years of branding and marketing experience within various industries and leading organizations before pioneering Branperience, a full-service brand experience firm, in 2018.


"The very thing I was criticized for as a child , being in tune with my feelings + emotions , is the exact superpower I've used to impact the world."










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