When people are passionate about a businesses they interact with, they want to tell others. Often, companies feel they need to be the drivers of conversation about their business and fear letting their customers speak for them, when actually, people who love a company’s products and services are the greatest, most authentic marketers - these are your brand evangelists.
This theory doesn't only hold true for consumer brands, but any type of business has the opportunity to be the "go to" or "must have" product/tool/process/technology/service in their industry.
Why Do you Need Brand Evangelists?
According to Satmetrix, evangelists spend 13 percent more than the average customer and refer business equal to 45 percent of the money they spend! HubSpot says that consumers are 71 percent more likely to buy a product after a connection’s recommendation on a social media channel. In a time when there are more than 180 million blogs in the world, 1 billion people on Facebook, and 500 million people on Twitter, the opportunity for companies to develop brand evangelists has never been greater.
Brand evangelists — or advocates — are loyalists who are so passionate about certain brands that they’ll market to others without any personal gain. They form emotional attachments to brands, becoming cheerleaders who recommend products and services to family, friends, and anyone else who will listen. Brand evangelists tell a personal story, which is often more impactful than a brand telling its own story.
How to Develop Brand Evangelists
How do companies convince customers to not only use their products, but also to advocate for a product and "own" it as part of their identities? How do you get people so excited that they're willing to put a sticker on their car — or even a tattoo on their body — of a brand, as Harley-Davidson owners often do? More importantly, how do you find those people who might be your brand’s best-kept secret?
Being transparent, delivering on promise, and making emotional connections are the qualities that enable you to transform customers into brand evangelists. Companies that create these powerful relationships with people are adept at delivering a consistent message and brand story, and making themselves indispensable in peoples' lives.
In order to get customers to advocate your brand you have to exceed their expectations. Once you identify these people, give them something special (and we don’t mean cash… get creative). If it’s special enough, they’ll likely tell the world.
Define your brand evangelists. Before you can engage with them, you have to decide what makes a brand evangelist. Is it the number of retweets, comments on posts, shares, likes, or pins? Is it a customer’s purchasing history? Is it all of your newsletter subscribers? There are lots of different factors that can make someone a brand evangelist, so decide what the right mix is for your brand.
Engage with influencers. Whether industry experts, authors, bloggers, or highly followed thought leaders in social media, “influencers” are people who can provide another voice for your product or service. These people can write a blog post or article about you; promote or share information about you through social media channels; or allow you to guest post on their widely read and respected blog or online publication.
Listen and respond! To find people who are advocating for your brand and telling your story, LISTEN. Social media has given businesses more voices – those of the evangelists who sing the praises of their products and services and recommend them to friends and family. Pay attention to the people who are on your Facebook page. Find out who follows your brand on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+, and who subscribes to your YouTube channel.
Learn more about finding and developing relationships with brand evangelists in our content marketing book Brand in Glass Houses, which is celebrating it's first publishing anniversary this weekend!
Identify people who are already choosing to hear what you have to say as a starting point. Monitor conversations to identify who is praising your brand, where and to whom. You may find people who are influencers in an industry, while others who are peer influencers among a group of friends or in their community.
Remember. Businesses don't make decisions. People do. Download our guide on breaking the B2B and B2C molds, and start doing business P2P, person to person.