Use Events to Build Brand Advocacy Programs
Like celebrities with millions of Instagram followers and Facebook fans, many brands have “superfans.” Not every fan is passionate enough to permanently ink their brand love with a tattoo, however, brand advocacy programs pay for themselves. Word of mouth product and service recommendations from superfans carry a great deal of cache—and have an impact on the bottom line. Here are few guidelines on how to use events to build brand advocacy programs.
Set Your Goals
You set SMART goals for your event. Do the same for your brand advocacy programs. Decide how your event supports or nurtures brand advocates. For example, is the goal to identify advocates at the event? If so, decide exactly how many you hope to convert. Then develop a plan to achieve the goal.
Influitive shares, “Choose advocacy goals that align with your overall business objectives. For example, if one of your top business goals is to increase your sales, one of your top advocacy goals can be to get more high-quality referrals.”
Find out what makes your superfans tick
Influitive suggests engage your advocates to spur them to take action. “To capture their attention, you must understand what makes them tick. Learn as much as you can about their needs, goals and challenges. What is a typical day like for them at work? What are their personal interests? Do they prefer Star Wars or Star Trek? Bacon or kale?” Events are a perfect environment to meet face-to-face with brand advocates. Get to know them. Dig into issues that matter to them.
- Review the attendees pre-registration list to identify potential brand advocates. If your program is just getting started, look for current customers as a first step.
- If a list isn’t available, check-in with top customers and prospects to see if they’re attending.
- Send personal invites to people on your target list to join a small focus group hosted by a few key team members. Offer a small incentive to encourage attendance.
- At the focus group, ask questions that lead to a better understanding of individual members as well as the group as a whole.
Create a VIP Area
Influitive suggests creating a space for brand advocates “to hang out.” Traditionally, brand advocacy programs are built around online communities. A physical VIP only zone for your biggest fans at your event lets them know they’re important to the brand and their advocacy has it’s rewards. Provide comfortable seating, recharging stations, cool drinks, and small snacks. Take it up a notch; offer exclusives not available to the general public such as:
- A copy of an exclusive new report or insights from a top company analyst
- Lunch and learn sessions with a well-known company executive
- A Q&A session with a top industry expert
- A fun surprise like a special band performance or guest speaker appearance
Get to know what motivates your brand advocates to act. Truman Tang, senior marketing manager at Influitive, says rewards don’t have to be expensive or over the top. “I’ve found that advocates are motivated by four drivers: Status, Access, Power, and Stuff (SAPS). For example, some advocates want VIP Access to your company and would love to chat with your CEO. Advocates who crave Status like it when others recognize their expertise, so they may enjoy speaking at one of your events.” Use your event as a way to thank advocates for their efforts:
- Have one-on-one meetings with VIPs.
- Record or videotape an interview with an advocate. Create a blog post, podcast or video of the interview for social sharing.
- Host a special reception or give brand advocates special swag.
Events are key to building brand advocacy programs. Use events to identify, recognize and reward your biggest fans. Give them more reasons to love your brand!
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Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker
Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Northeast powder hound. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. VP Marketing, Doodle owner and cocreator of my daughter.