Every brand can benefit from strong consumer advocacy. Fewer consumers are relying on ads and media coverage to make their purchase decisions. They are increasingly turning to each other and to social media to share opinions and gather insight before making purchases, whether it's a big ticket purchase or an innovative new laundry detergent (have you tried Tide Pods yet?).
The fact that shoppers trust personal recommendations more than brand messaging is nothing new. But did you realize that even as social technologies mature, our trust in word of mouth is skyrocketing? Nielsen's latest trust in media report shows that in the last four years, our trust in recommendations from friends increased 20 percent and trust in online reviews is up 15 percent. At the same time, trust in TV, magazines, and newspapers are all down more than 20 percent. The funny thing is this -- that's where marketers spend much of their money. Go figure.
Advocacy is big business. We've seen advocacy programs lift product sales an average of 8 percent in a market and return $1.50 for every $1 spent. And once advocates start talking, they don't stop. Continued discussion keeps sales at high levels months after the program ends.
One national retailer estimates that improved customer advocacy is a $5.3 billion opportunity. Even if your business isn't that big, getting more of your customers to share what they love about your product can be one of the most effective new business promotions you can run. Marketers need to support sales, and your customers are the most influential people you've got. If they aren't talking about you, you aren't doing your job.
So how do you get people talking in a way that influences your bottom line? You know what they say about free advice -- so here's a list of nine things not to do.