It is the dream of most business owners, to get business without marketing, to build loyal customers based on quality and service. And there are a few…very few, businesses that have been able to do that, I think they are located in those small towns in the Midwest where everyone knows everyone. For the rest of us it is a combination of consistent marketing and/or networking, and client referrals.
The best business comes from referred business, there is already a small level of trust established when someone has been referred to you, all you then have to do is come through on quality and service. These wonderful customers that refer your business have been labeled many ways; brand advocates, customer evangelist, “A” clients, loyal customers, word of mouth marketers – whatever the title, one thing is certain, they are substantial business assets that should be cherished.
While often included as a part of image, perception and awareness studies, or in brand equity research, we now recognize advocacy as the single most important indicator of a brand’s potential for growth. Measuring advocacy reveals the depth of the consumer’s relationship with the brand, and the relevance of the brand message to the consumer. The consumer’s willingness to act as an advocate gives them a very personal stake in the brand. It’s their integrity and reputation that’s on the line, and what’s more valuable than that? Smith & Jones Upmarket
Recently I read about Coca-Cola rewarding some Facebook fans for their loyal and rather effective support and it got me thinking, what other companies have rewarded their supporters lately? There are plenty of reward programs that reward you for buying a product or service but how many are there for brand advocates or evangelists? And I am not talking about affiliate programs, where you can make some extra money by marketing a company on your website or blog- though that is nice. When was the last time you saw a no strings attached “thank you for your continued support” reward?
Two highly publicized rewards, Coca-Cola and Royal Carribean Cruises are two great examples of companies recognizing the value of brand supporters. Not only did these actions illustrate a proactive customer appreciation platform but it also resulted in more exposure and support for these companies.
Dusty and Michael J started the 2nd most popular page on Facebook, with 3.38 million fans, all in support of their favorite soft drink Coca-Cola. The fans were invited to Atlanta where they visited the World of Coca-Cola, attended a Thrashers hockey game, toured the Coke archives on North Avenue, and videoed their experience.
In May 2007, the Royal Champions community of online enthusiasts was invited to their first big event, the pre-inaugural sailings of our newest ship Liberty of the Seas in New York and Miami. This was the first time in the company’s history that invitees to pre-inaugural sailings were “ordinary people” i.e. not VIP’s, corporate executives, or top producing travel agent. Royal Caribbean hosted ship and stateroom tours and cocktail parties with executives. The events generated abundant positive word-of-mouth on various sites and created a cohesive community of Royal Caribbean online enthusiasts that are regularly leveraged for ongoing marketing initiatives.
How do you reward your biggest supporters?