Advocacy Marketing 101: Engaging Audiences, Inspiring Action

When satisfied customers become brand ambassadors, your brand’s marketing journey changes for good. And that’s what advocacy marketing is all about. 

In a gist, advocacy marketing is where the voice of a satisfied customer helps you cut through all the noise and rise above the competition. Indeed, in a world where customers are bombarded with ads everywhere, another customer’s story can be a much more convincing marketing asset. 

Since we live in an era where trust and authenticity are paramount, traditional advertising can only go so far. To tackle this, advocacy marketing capitalizes on the genuine enthusiasm and recommendations of satisfied customers.

All of these make advocacy marketing sound like the magic formula every business needs. But it’s not that easy, is it? After all, getting customers to promote your brand through word-of-mouth is not so straightforward. 

A lot goes into making this happen. This includes delighting customers, creating memorable experiences, humanizing the brand, clearly defining the brand values, and fostering a sense of community. That’s how brands can ignite a wildfire of positive buzz that spreads organically.

In this blog, we’ll take you through the realm of advocacy marketing, uncovering the strategies that turn customers into your most passionate brand advocates. Are you ready? Let’s go! 

Advocacy marketing – an overview of the benefits 

When you are purchasing a smartphone, would you trust the information on the smartphone brand’s website and place an order blindly? Or would you ask around for recommendations from friends and family or perhaps look for reviews from others who have used the smartphone? 

If it’s the second answer, then we are sure advocacy marketing needs no introduction. 

Advocacy marketing is all about putting customer experiences at the center of your brand narrative. It is about delivering exceptional value, not just once but every single time, so that customers willingly become champions of your brand and bring in more new leads. 

Evidently, this only happens if the customers feel emotionally connected to the brand and develop trust in the brand. But when that happens, there’s a host of benefits your brand can reap. Let’s talk about a few of them. 

  • Happy customers sometimes know more about your brand and your products than you do. Hence the benefits that your brand advocates highlight might be unique and relevant to other customers. 
  • Advocacy marketing goes a long way in winning the trust of leads who are stuck in a marketing funnel and not converting to customers. 
  • From the user-generated content that advocacy marketing drives, you can increase the visibility and therefore the reputation of your brand. 
  • It’s not just about acquiring new customers. Brand advocates also help a great deal in retaining existing customers.  
  • Advocacy marketing is also a cost-effective move because then your customers also start acting as your marketers, therefore, multiplying the benefits of your strategy. 

In addition to all the direct benefits mentioned above, advocacy marketing also pushes the brand to keep working on customer experiences. Because for sustained results, the brand should focus on delivering better quality and better experiences every single time. 

5 brands that aced the art of advocacy marketing

We discussed the advantages that a brand can experience by taking advocacy marketing seriously. But how do you tap into these advantages? Well, it’s easier to learn from other brands who’ve seen success in this area. So, let’s look at some examples of popular advocacy marketing campaigns that worked wonders for brands. 

1. Tesla 

Referral programs are some of the most common ways in which brands adopt advocacy marketing. Because then an existing customer act as a brand advocate and refers your brand to a friend or family. 

Tesla Loot Box is a good example of this. Its referral program does not just come with a one-time reward but sustained benefits for customers. The referrer and the referral both get loyalty credits which can then be used in several ways.

In this case, the attractive rewards offered by Tesla act as a motivator for customers to turn into brand advocates. This is one of the most popular ideas that brands use for advocacy marketing. 

KIMP Tip: Not all brands with referral programs and sustained incentives see the intended results. Most of the time this is due to a lack of awareness of the program. To tackle this and to ensure that your customers know about the option to refer a friend, use social media advertising as well as touchpoint marketing like flyers to keep your customers informed. Periodic email reminders work too. 

Social media design by KIMP 

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2. Okta 

A popular identity and access management company, Okta, takes brand advocacy very seriously. The brand’s customer advocate measures are truly an inspiration for brands looking for ideas on how to encourage customers to share their stories and turn into advocates. 

Okta’s advocacy marketing strategy goes beyond referral marketing. Instead of tangible or monetary rewards, Okta rewards its advocates in the form of exposure. It allows customers who are happy with the solutions that Okta provides and are eager to share their stories with the world. 

For this, the brand lets customers share their stories in multiple ways. Sending out a camera crew to record the video testimonial, welcoming blog posts on the experience, and allowing customers to share their stories at industry events are a few things Okta does. 

As you can see, these rewards are much more relevant than monetary and conventional rewards for advocates in the B2B scenario. Because there you have the job of convincing an organization to trust your brand and therefore it takes a more professional approach. 

Case studies showing quick stats to highlight the difference the brand made, and documentaries featuring actual professionals who benefited from the services are all a few ways in which many B2B companies encourage brand advocacy. 

3. Airbnb

Airbnb is a brand that has always shown how serious it is about advocacy marketing. 

When you look at Airbnb’s marketing campaigns, they do not just promote the services but evoke strong emotions in the brand’s audience. 

Take the recent Airbnb logo for example. While a lot of people were criticizing the design online, the brand was firm in its decision and portrayed the clear intent behind the new logo. About creating a “symbol of belonging”. 

The brand’s campaigns from there onward also keep proving that the logo design reflects what the brand truly stands for. For example, think of the time when Airbnb took a stand to support same-sex marriage in Australia through its Acceptance Ring campaign

Or the outdoor ads regarding the trouble finding pet-friendly rentals. 

Or even when Airbnb updated its refund policies and supported short-term rentals for frontline workers during the COVID pandemic. 

All these instances show how the brand consistently stands by what it values the most. Such strong ideals go a long way in humanizing a brand and winning brand advocates. Without a doubt, it worked in the case of Airbnb. 

Based on YouGov Advocacy Rankings in 2016, Airbnb had a score of 73.9 and was top on the list. This means that among all the brands compared, Airbnb was found to have the strongest brand advocates. Therefore, it makes a wonderful example for brands looking to tap into advocacy marketing. 

Consistently aligning its brand visuals to the brand message helped Airbnb. It can help your brand too. 

Time to sign up for a KIMP subscription and work with a designated design team that understands your brand and visually represents it. 

4. Starbucks 

With about 35.7 thousand outlets around the world, Starbucks is one of the most popular coffee shop chains. In terms of brand value in the quick-service restaurant category, Starbucks stands in second place with a brand value of 61.7 billion U.S. dollars. How did a coffee chain manage to attain so much growth in about four decades? Through consistent branding and with the help of its brand advocates. 

In fact, according to Statista, Starbucks continues to be the favorite coffee brand of nearly 39.4% of US consumers. There are many branding strategies and marketing campaigns that Starbucks uses to maintain this brand affinity. 

The brand has always focused on personalization. Starbucks trains its store partners to focus on the experience for every single customer. Additionally. Instead of promoting itself as a coffee shop, the brand focuses on creating coffee experiences. And the stores are created to give customers a cozy and social atmosphere. 

On top of all this, the brand also puts its customers first in most of its marketing campaigns. Take the White Cup Contest for example. Customers were asked to creatively decorate the Starbucks white cup and post their creations online with the designated hashtag. 

Starbucks did not just create a contest and leave it out there. It personally engaged with its customers, commenting on the posts they shared. 

There were around 4000 entries and one winner was chosen and featured. Additionally, Starbucks also introduced a limited edition range featuring the winning design. Again this shows how much it values its customers. The happy post from the contest winner three years after the contest is proof of the longevity of Starbucks’ idea. 

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5. Cisco

While we talk about customer advocates most of the time in advocacy marketing, employee advocates are of tremendous value as well. But not many brands leverage the idea. Cisco does! It is known for its exemplary customer advocacy and employee advocacy marketing efforts. 

As proof of this, Cisco was recognized as having the Biggest Impact On Marketing in the Best Advocate Marketing (BAMMIE) Awards, 2022. 

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Among the many initiatives that Cisco takes in order to create brand advocates and keep the existing advocates engaged, the Cisco Insider program is one. It is a community of technology enthusiasts and users from around the world who share the same passion and respect for Cisco. 

Cisco regularly hosts live events to create memorable experiences for the members of the Insider community. And even hosts online contests to build momentum for the community and to invite more members. 

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Given that Cisco has a strong stance in the world of technology, these events and community interactions turn out to be valuable to the members. The immense amount of technology-related information, industry insights, exclusive announcements, and other perks that come along with the membership provide instant as well as sustained gratification to the advocates. All of these retain the strength of the brand’s advocacy network. 

Advocacy marketing ideas backed up by good design 

From all these brands and their success in advocacy marketing, one thing is clear. And that is – brand advocacy cannot be created through just one campaign. Events, social media interactions, online contests, store experiences – there are so many little elements that together help build and maintain a community of brand advocates. 

Moreover, these need to be integrated into your marketing strategy on a regular basis. Of course, to make these campaigns work, you cannot face your audience without strong campaign designs in place. Because how you visually represent your ideas is how costumes perceive your ideas and how much they pay attention to them. 

When your campaign designs have such a strong role to play, don’t you want them to professionally and accurately represent your brand? A professional design team can help you achieve that. 

And if you thought working with a professional design team is expensive, check out KIMP subscriptions where you get unlimited designs month after month, for a fixed monthly rate. 

Register now for a free 7-day trial.