ADVOCACY MARKETING: THE MOST OVERLOOKED, YET THE MOST EFFECTIVE MARKETING APPROACH

How can new companies reach a large market with a limited budget, a small number of employees, and a brand image that’s not established?

How can organizations utilize their stakeholders (employees, customers, and others) in their marketing efforts to attract new customers and gain high-quality leads?

This article will attempt to answer these questions while introducing advocacy marketing and its benefits. We will also cover a practical guideline on how to implement and manage a successful advocacy program

What's Advocacy Marketing?

Advocacy marketing is a marketing approach that focuses on engaging stakeholders such as employees, customers, and other partners in marketing efforts. Advocacy marketing relies on utilizing the word-of-mouth of those who have invested interest in the firm.

Advocacy marketing helps both large and small organizations to scale up without needing a large marketing budget. Engaging stakeholders in marketing efforts helps firms to attract new customers, enhance brand awareness, increase sales, and generate high-quality leads.

Why do we need Advocacy Marketing?

As mentioned earlier, advocacy marketing has several benefits that make it vital for any organization. This is especially true for new entrants that struggle to build their brand and attract new customers in this fiercely competitive age.

There are so many stats that show the outstanding advantages of advocacy marketing. Let’s just see this using a simple case study of new entrants in the Ethiopian financial industry.

A Case of Ethiopian Financial Market

Based on the National Bank of Ethiopia report, the number of banks has increased from 18 to 30 as of June 2022. The NBE has also in the process of giving authorization to foreign banks to open a commercial representative branch in Ethiopia.

Consequently, new private banks have to compete with established banks and possibly foreign banks in the near future. However, there’s still a huge opportunity since 70% of the population is still unbanked.

How can new private banks reach this large market with a limited budget, a small number of employees, and a brand image that’s not established?

How does Advocacy Marketing solve these Challenges?

  • Limitation of resources: – fully utilizing every stakeholder will minimize the burden on the firm’s resources and require a small budget
  • Trust issues: – advocacy marketing is based on trust already built and relationships already existing. 
  • Fact: According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from their friends & Family over the paid marketing
  • Measuring difficulty: with the right technological tools it is easier to measure the success of advocacy marketing than traditional marketing. 
  • Effectiveness: – social media content shared by employees gets 8x more engagement than content shared by the brand’s social channels. According to LinkedIn, leads developed through employee social marketing convert 7x more frequently than other leads.

Based on the above facts and case presented above we can conclude that advocacy marketing is an optimal marketing approach to attract new customers and increase revenue at a very low cost.

Success Story

Okta is an American identity and access management company based in San Francisco. They implemented an advocacy program called Oktane. The goal was to build s stronger relationships with customers and drive their customers to promote their brand. 

This annual event was held in 2016, the marketing department created a program called Okta Ozone it promotes customers to initiate event sign-ups. Customers can use social media to get the word out.

During the event, the company employed various techniques such as holding special lunch and offering awards to recognize their customers’ efforts in promoting Oktane. 

The results of this advocacy program according to the company include:

  • The brand saw a 34% increase in engagement with their customers.
  • The campaign generated around 1.1 million social impressions.
  • More than 30 brand promoters shared their success stories with Okta during the event

We can learn from Okta that an advocacy program with clear and specific goals, customer-centered, and recognizes the customers’ efforts will succeed despite its simplicity.

How to Drive Advocacy Marketing

Advocacy needs to be structured and planned out to be successful. Organizations that implement advocacy marketing without the necessary preparation miss out on the fruits of their labor. Consequently, to get the best out of advocacy marketing you need to follow these golden rules.

  1. Set clear goals, policies, and procedures

The first step is to define clear goals of the advocacy campaigns and policies and procedures to govern the implementation. Having goals will help your stakeholders to be continuously engaged and helps to outline a clear path to follow.

The goals should be specific, achievable, and communicated to all the stakeholders. The goal may be to increase website traffic by a certain percentage or reach a certain number of social media followers.

The goals should be significant enough that it needs stakeholders’ involvement but achievable enough not to discourage them.

  1. Identify the right stakeholder

This is the most crucial step in advocacy marketing campaigns. Stakeholders are all parties that have invested interest in the company. They include employees, clients, suppliers, contractors, and shareholders.

Identifying the right advocates requires a company to do research and use the right tools. Not all stakeholders are interested in taking the time to advocate for the firm.

Furthermore, the company should identify the primary advocacy method like word-of-mouth, social media, or others. For social media advocacy, the company should identify those stakeholders that are active on social media and are currently generating engagement on the firm’s website.

The best way to move forward is to start through employee advocacy and then work your way to customer advocacy. Integrating advocacy marketing with data-driven marketing could be the difference between successful advocacy programs from those that are not so successful.

  1. Make advocate accessible for stakeholders

Stakeholders should not put excessive effort to advocate your brand or products. This will demotivate them and minimize their effectiveness. Companies should prepare a consistent and clear message and devise the right channels for advocacy.

Continuous communication channels to bring awareness to advocates and to guide them through the process are essential. Finally, advocating your brand should be just a click away and not a burden.

Getting the right technology and tools to enable advocates to get your content on time and be able to advocate with minimal effort should be your priority.

  1. Measure the success of advocacy marketing

Every marketing campaign should be measured to identify strengths and weak points and improve upon them. This is especially true for advocacy marketing to measure performance in terms of the original goals and ROI.

Performing detailed research by getting feedback and getting numerical data like website traffic or the number of leads is important.

  1. Recognize and reward advocates’ effort

Advocacy marketing relies on a reward system by the firm in alignment with your values. The reward should be more of recognition rather than monetary.

Advocates that put their efforts to get your message out should be recognized, appreciated, and acknowledged. These will not only motivate them to enhance their advocacy but also increase brand loyalty.

As a bonus, introducing gamification and healthy competition is a good opportunity to add fun to the advocacy program and attract other stakeholders to participate.

Advocacy Marketing Done Right

Advocacy marketing can turn your stakeholders into your promoters and bring high-quality leads and develop a strong brand image. However, if the right tools and technology are not used and the necessary preparations are not done the success of the advocacy program will be low.

Getting high ROI from an advocacy program is achievable by preparing a comprehensive advocacy plan, choosing the right tools and technology, and creating accessibility for the stakeholders.

Here at S.E.E.D, we provide stakeholder advocacy as part of the Integrated marketing package.

Our service includes:

  • Develop consistent content for stakeholders to share
  • Make content accessible and relevant to the advocates
  • Enable stakeholders to share messages using our Dynamic QR codes
  • Measure the effectiveness of advocacy programs using our tracking program
  • Ensure the content and design of the message follows the company’s brand and values
  • Drive employee-generated content
  • Build quizzes and competitions to gamify the advocacy program and motivate advocates

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