Here are six ways advocate and ambassador programs are leveraged to grow brands and examples to accompany them. In each outcome, we list some strategies leveraged to accomplish that outcome.
We are all too familiar with the first three - increasing sales, acquiring new customers, and engaging repeat customers.
Four, five, and six have a softer return on investment, but are arguably even more powerful because they create a foundation of trust that is so important, so pay special attention to them.
ONE: Increase Sales
According to Harvard Business Review, there is a strong correlation between the company growth rate and the percent of customers identified as advocates. When you invest your time and energy into advocates by rewarding them with incentives for referrals and loyalty, they return the favor by growing your sales.
TWO: Engage repeat customers
Loyalty programs are one strategy used in community marketing to retain and engage repeat customers. Everyone from Southwest to Starbucks has them dialed. At Starbucks, get a star in your account every time you make a purchase. Once you hit a certain number of stars, you get free drink or food. These are product incentives to motivate customers to make repeat purchases.
THREE: Acquire new customers
Referral programs are a popular strategy in the community marketing toolkit because 77% of consumers reported they are more likely to purchase from friends or family than any other channel.
For example, I signed up for Stitch Fix. They said, “hey, when you get a compliment from your friend on the awesome new pieces we sent to you, give them this code to use on their first purchase and you’ll get $15 credit towards your next Stitch Fix.”
Trouble is, these incentives have become so popular that brands hand them out like candy and your customer is left wondering if they need to take out an add just to list all their referral codes.
FOUR: Create Community & Loyalty
Community is the foundation of trust that your brand stands on and over time, it becomes an incentive in and of itself. Invite customers into an exclusive shared experience and over time, you will watch that community set the world on fire for your brand.
Lululemon created a combined ambassador and advocate model that exploded their brand. At each store, Lululemon ‘educators’ offered free yoga for the community. This brought together like-minded athletes who love Lululemon and created strong brand loyalty in the process.
FIVE: Gather User Generated Content
Achieve this outcome by incentivizing advocates to share and post on social media with specific messages or content. In our experience, the more specific, the better.
Red Bull is known for their crazy stunts and videos created, not by influencers with massive followings, but by regular people who join their “Wings Team” to be a part of the community, get free Red Bull, and the recognition that comes when they submit videos of their incredible feats to Red Bull.
SIX: Attain Market Research
A favorite strength of every advocate program is your access to quicker, better feedback. Lego saw the value here when they created a platform called Lego Ideas for their super fans to share their ideas of what future lego sets they want to see produced. When the idea to create a “steamboat willie lego set” is picked up from user “szabomate90,” you can only imagine the fervor this creates in their circles when the product is later launched to the market.
An advocate program allows you to test assumptions and fail faster. This feedback allows you to let go of false assumptions faster and get more momentum in growth with the truth about your customers sooner.
Here’s the important thing: You can’t do all of it. We all wish we could wave a wand and have it all. These are 6 possible outcomes that your advocate program can do for you. Pick your top 1-2 and that’s where we begin.
About the Author
Bri Leever is Chief Community Architect at Ember, a splasher of water, and lover of books doing life in an ever-changing migration pattern ✈️