Think about a brand that you love. Why do you love that brand? Most people are loyal to brands for many reasons, such as the value they create, the ideas and beliefs they stand for, they feel that the brand actually cares about them. There are many reasons more, and they are personal.
And that word, ‘personal’ is the key. If you have a personal relationship or view of a brand, then you have affinity for that brand. And affinity leads to advocacy. You want to tell others about that brand, you feel a sense of vested interest in seeing that brand succeed. You want to play some small role in that brand’s success.
This is the simple, 4-step process for creating advocacy. It works for both your employees and your customers. And the reality is, if you don’t have employees that will advocate for your brand, it’s very difficult to create an environment where customers will.
At both the employee and customer level, it starts by initiating interactions that communicate that you care. On the employee side, instead of having 4 weekly meetings a month to discuss how your employees are progressing with their work, what if you made the 3rd meeting of every month instead be focused on helping your employees? What if that meeting was focused on discussing what THE BRAND can do to better help the employees do their job better? Give the employees a chance to discuss what’s holding them back, let them suggest changes that could make their job easier.
“I could be more productive if I could do _____”
“I wish I could devote X amount of time to personal work projects”
“I could get more done if we had fewer meetings like this”
Ok I just threw that last one in there cause I know so many of you were thinking it! But the point is, by interacting and LISTENING to your employees then ACTING on their suggestions, you signal to them that you value their opinions. Also, you are signaling to them that you TRUST your employees to come up with good ideas, and then run with them.
Want to inspire your employees? When they come to you with an idea, give them ownership to get it done. It communicates that you trust the employee, that you value them, and that you know they can do the work without your supervision. That’s incredibly inspiring to the employee. That’s what creates advocacy.
Also, make sure your employees understand WHY your brand does what it does. As Simon Sinek says “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it”. What impact does your brand make on the lives of your customers, and the world? Make sure your employees understand that. We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We all want a vision to unite us, a larger cause that binds us as a team working toward a common goal. There’s the famous story of the time President Kennedy was touring NASA, and he was stopping employees as he met them and asking them to explain what they did at NASA. He eventually found a janitor, and asked him what he did at NASA. The janitor replied “I”m helping send man to the moon!” That was the vision and the ‘why’ that inspired him to do his job.
The same things apply to your customers. Interact and engage with your customers. Ask them for feedback on your brand. What can be improved, what do they like. Take their suggestions to heart, and follow up with them on what your brand is doing to implement the changes they want to see. This helps your customers become more invested in your brand and helps create higher levels of customer advocacy.
Interaction leads to Understanding leads to Trust leads to Advocacy. When both your employees and customers advocate for your brand, that leads to higher sales and profits.