2014/09/11 1 Comment
When you consider how much money is spent on brand perception and loyalty in a world of short term consumption I strongly suggest you make the most of it and become a brand advocate. What does that mean in real life? Well, just like friends, gardening, reading and other activities that need nurturing take good care of those brands that are important to your well being and lifestyle.
Here is how it works in today’s hyper connected world:
1) You pick 3-5 brands that are worth fighting for in this competitive world where domain names dictate what brands our kids will be following in the near future. Those should be brands that you buy no matter what price, defend against any criticism and cherish because they are like you – unique!
2) Look up there LinkedIn company profile, Twitter account, Facebook page…the usual stuff where you can learn more about what the brand is up to and hang out with other fans just like you.
3) Eventually the best brands understand that they have a crowd that have turned into brand advocates. They don’t just goof around the bush – no – they take actions and want to be part of the product development team. So the very best brands crowd source ideas from these fans giving them a community portal.
Why would I care participating in a community like that? My busy schedule is already asking me to Like my best friends new kitten on Facebook, congratulate my cousin for his new job on LinkedIn, watch the Force of Nature on the Weather Channel in a location 5,000 miles from my home…you name it and I have yet to do it on my smartphone, tablet or TV!
Here is why and what you will get from it
1) You actually know more about what shapes your identity. After reading Gert Boyle’s book about how Columbia Sportswear went from almost going bankrupt to a company that now asks you which radio ad they should be launching there is no question which sports brand my entire family will be wearing whenever possible. I am active in their Greater Rewards group and you can even suggest what apparel they should add in next years collection!
2) You know what they deliver not only when buying the product or service, but when you actually own and use it. I have sent a Tweet to Volvo Cars Canada VP of Marketing to share my gratitude for having such a great service team at Volvo Laval that now you can talk to their staff like your neighbour. My local garage that used to fix stuff on it always complained how complicated it was to service a Volvo. Well, now when I see a Volvo owner on his parking I tell them to try out the local Volvo dealership instead.
3) You give them bang for their marketing bucks. Let’s read this twice. You are paying for them to find new customers so that they can continue providing YOU with what you already know is the best out there, because let’s not forget that our kids change brands as fast as they download an iTune. So I don’t ask for money back when referring a new client to my brands. No – a brand advocate does it because it keeps prices low, innovation in motion and most of all customer satisfaction. Have you ever tried to open an account in a financial institution other than Tangerine (now Scotia Bank)? I still have to find a more approachable VP than Peter Aceto who answers your Tweets the same day. You don’t ditch a brand like that for 0.25% lower mortgage rate for 6 months. Nope. You stick to your guns and help them spend their marketing dollars wisely on getting new customers to lower everybody’s mortgage rate.
Finally I want to say that the opposite is true too. If you have been a brand advocate for years and see that quality starts going downhill, dealing with customer service is worse than a divorce, pricing keeps going up without getting more for your buck etc. it’s time for you to let them know about how they deceive you. Literally – on Twitter seems to be the most effective way to start with since you immediately get somebody asking you to DM (Direct Message) them about your concern. You may give them a second chance at that time. However often I find they just get too comfortable in being #1 or have too much money to goof around with to deliver failure after failure until it looks like there is no turning back.
I have fired brands in the past. Banks. Software companies. Snow removal contractors. Insurance companies. Restaurants. You just have to say why and then move on to a better brand out there.
Cost: 1 hour per month. No more. No less. You can’t literally work for your brands since they have their own staff. However if you only read their newsletter once a year you aren’t doing anybody a favour.
Time to make decision and execute: 1 hour to pick 3 brands, connect with them on LinkedIn and Twitter and find out what the brand advocate community is excited about right now.
Benefit: You get perks. Not always monetary though. I get my car servicing appointment from Volvo Laval when I need it most of the times. My wife once got an apology from the local Tangerine branch manager after two ATM glitches and since then nothing has gone bananas with her accounts. My daughter got her new Columbia winter boots saying “Is that the Grand ma that was on that book cover you were reading the other day who makes these boots?” Just like in the old times. You keep brands who are worth surviving alive for future generations.