Originally posted at ZuberRants

It is true that Brand Advocates have value in part due to the reach of their relationships within and across their social networks.  When they encourage their friends and colleagues to buy our products, our brand’s buying power increases exponentially, and it simply makes good business sense to leverage those opportunities.

The risk here is that we can become so focused on our Brand Advocates’ social reach that we see them only as a means to an end (sales) and stop seeing them as people.  We might get greedy and start looking right past them to market directly to their networks, ignoring our Advocates themselves.  While that marketing method can still be somewhat teffective, it costs more, it is more difficult to implement and maintain, and it is dangerous to our brand.  We cannot de-value our Advocates and expect our brands to thrive!

No matter how great a buying power their networks provide us, we still need value our direct 1-1 relationships with our Advocates.

Research shows that Brand Advocates are more likely to repurchase after recommending brands and products:

76% percent of Brand Advocates said they were more likely to repurchase after recommending a brand or product to someone else, and 79% said they would be more likely to repurchase in the future. (source: the Harris Poll, June 2009).

In other words, with our Brand Advocates, the ROR (Return on Relationship) is high.  A strong relationship with a Brand Advocate is likely to not only increase the Word of Mouth impact, but also to increase their own likelihood of repeat purchase.   And if we continue to delight our Advocates with each of their own purchase experiences, they have even more reason to recommend our products and services to others.

Don’t get greedy and interact with your Brand Advocates just to “mobilize” them for the buying power of their networks.  They are valuable in and of themselves. Treat them that way!

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