Advocacy.

According to Ogilvy’s John Bell, the advocacy spectrum can range from casual (e.g., a Like on Facebook) to passionate (e.g., “I would love thee (Keurig) until my very last breath”).

All marketers would agree that the latter is more powerful, and there is growing evidence that the benefits of an advocacy program are worth the investment. Those benefits include:

  • More effective media: Earned media produced by advocates sees higher conversion rates than paid efforts, partly because it’s authentic and therefore more trustworthy, allowing genuine brand recommendations from consumers to break through the cluttered digital media landscape.
  • Scale/amplification: Brand advocates are more vocal than regular consumers, and can serve as a natural extension of a company’s sales force as they spread the word and share their brand experiences. And their friends tell two friends, and so on and so on.
  • Insights and feedback: Advocates speak up if empowered to do so, and if you listen, you’ll gain valuable input from your most loyal brand fans.

How can brands identify and harness the power of passionate advocates? Driving advocacy requires a long-term strategy and the ability to tap into true authenticity. Today, the issue of trust is being tried and tested as companies struggle with how to deal with fake reviews and endorsements motivated more by points and perks than passion for their brand.

There are numerous brands, agencies and service providers that offer advocacy programs. What they have in common is that they all activate advocates to generate word of mouth; the difference, in most cases, is in the specific tactics, as well as the measurement and results. Typically, these offerings provide opportunities for consumers — brand advocates — to try new products for free, share opinions (and sometimes samples and coupons) with friends, and provide valuable feedback to brands.

Here at House Party, we offer brands two advocacy marketing solutions: House Party campaigns (for a shared group experience) and Chatterbox campaigns (for an individual brand experience). The engagement that these structured advocacy programs offer — especially the deep engagement of the in-home group experiences at the center of House Party campaigns — leads to advocacy that’s more passionate, more authentic and more persuasive. It’s also highly likely to drive action, such as purchase. It works because the focus is on providing an amazing consumer experience and establishing an emotional connection.

As Ekaterina Walter, of Branderati, has said, “If you want real ‘Likes,’ follows, reviews and passionate recommendations, both online and offline, don’t try to go out and invite more guests to your party. First take care of those who already came to hang out with you and who already love you.” We tend to agree. Brands need to focus on their biggest fans and empower them to spread the word. But if you ask us, you can always invite more guests to the party. After all, the more, the merrier.