Customer Marketing

Transform Your Loyalists into Brand Advocates Through ‘Leverageable Loves’

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The brands that inspire loyalty provide more than just great products—they become part of a customer’s identity, create inclusive communities, and build bonds with customers that are hard for competitors to replicate. Every company wants a band of loyal customers, but not all seemingly loyal customers actually are. You might have longtime customers who leave you the second they find a lower price or who are only customers because you’ve made it too much of a hassle to leave.

In each of these cases, you’ll see repeat purchase behavior, which is great, but to get that wild brand growth that companies look for, you need true brand advocates. Brand advocates are loyalists on steroids. They would never dream of doing business with anyone else. They recommend your products to friends and promote your brand on their social channels. A segment of Apple customers is the prime example of brand advocates. These advocates are willing to wait in line for hours just to own a new Apple device, and then they go home and post unboxing videos on YouTube and talk about the new product features on social.

Transforming loyalists into advocates is a vital strategy brands shouldn’t overlook, especially in a world where peer recommendations are far more influential than branded messages.

One powerful way to spark this transformation is through identifying and using Leverageable Loves.

How to Find Leverageable Loves

Leverageable Loves are the ingredients of culture: the deeper emotions, motivations, and associations people have with an activity, product, or service, many of which are subconscious. Leverageable Loves help brands win Share of Culture—where audiences’ cultures are placed at the center of marketing strategies to develop and strengthen consumer relationships. These loves are important to tap into because consumers want to be treated as individuals, not sales numbers. It’s clear that transitioning from loyalty to advocacy is about more than just a product or a sense of belonging. There’s a deeper reason why people decide to take a personal stake in a brand.

By using qualitative and quantitative data, you can unveil these reasons by understanding what your target audience loves, believes in, and gets excited about. I focus on nine research aspects, including the consumers’ interests, their media preferences, and which influencers they follow, to find the consumers’ Leverageable Loves.

3 Ways to Tap Into Leverageable Loves to Create Brand Advocates

To get started, here are three steps to help you tap into Leverageable Loves with the goal of creating brand advocates:

1. Discover Your Audiences’ Interests

Understanding what your audience members are interested in and how they spend their time allows you to create campaigns that build a much deeper, more authentic connection.

Take a page out of Ikea’s book: The home decor giant sparked brand advocates to share their enthusiasm and encouraged loyalists to take their brand commitment to the next level through a simple campaign. Ikea aficionados posted the brand’s furniture and other items in their homes with the hashtag #JoyOfStorage in hopes of winning a prize. Submissions then turned into a unique portfolio showing how Ikea created the feeling of home for people around the world, further inspiring brand loyalists to transform into advocates.

Knowing your audiences’ interests allows you to create smarter, more relevant messaging strategies. Also, you can target your message in the places they spend their time, both online and out in the world.

2. Capitalize on Media Preferences

A great example of understanding consumers’ media preferences comes from Starbucks, where it tunes into consumers’ loves in fun, interactive ways. By understanding its coffee lovers’ media preferences and embracing its own brand characteristics (being a center of community and sharing), Starbucks created a campaign in which a simple tweet allowed customers to order free coffee for others. Without appropriately using Leverageable Loves, this campaign wouldn’t have existed.

By understanding its customers’ use of Twitter as a gathering place where they communicate with friends and like-minded peers, Starbucks was able to build an initiative around media preference. Remember, loyalists are more inclined to become brand advocates when it helps them validate their own sense of identity. Focusing on platforms where your customers already have accounts and build their identities is an effective way to align your brand’s sense of purpose and forge a shared meaning and deeper trust.

3. Know the Influencers Your Audience Follows

The influencers of your audience can inform you about the topics your audience members are interested in, what they pay attention to, and how they like to engage with content. This data helps you craft messaging, as well as create campaigns and partnerships that drive engagement and advocacy.

A campaign from Xbox is a perfect example of this. Xbox needed to remind people that a custom-designed controller makes a perfect gift for the gamer in their life. Through research into gamers—specifically Xbox enthusiasts—Xbox was able to identify influencers who effectively reach its desired audience. Rather than pay these influencers to post on Xbox’s behalf, the company sent them one-of-a-kind gifts that they couldn’t resist sharing. The influencers spread the love through unboxing videos and talking about Xbox controllers on YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram, which reached millions.

It’s not enough to just know the influencers your audience follows. You also need to analyze the voice of the influencers to understand how they charm your audience. With this information, you can determine whether your brand’s voice will appeal to your audience, too.

Leverageable Loves is a common language that lets you create more relevant marketing that will develop deeper brand connections with consumers. Use them as a set of creative principles that define what messages you send out and what channels you use. Finally, let them shape your marketing roadmap, so your brand becomes a cultural fixture as it grows and encourages loyalists to take the plunge into advocacy.

Do you have any other strategies you use to create brand advocates? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.