One of the best ways to grow your brand’s awareness at a low cost and high return of investment is through the artful use of brand advocacy.
Brand advocates are those individuals or customers who are excited to share the experiences they’ve had with your product or services, whether through their social platforms, blog posts or even word of mouth. Activating these advocates can expose your brand to thousands of individuals who are far more credible than any marketing-led campaign an organization might execute.
For example, I’ve become an advocate for brands like Warby Parker and Patagonia. Each of these companies has provided me with a brand experience that has won a customer for life. In the case of Warby Parker, I learned that having a kind and understanding customer service representative that can help a consumer replace broken eyewear with no questions asked, twice, and go beyond the call of duty.
In the case of Patagonia, I’ve been a brand advocate for over 30 years. I truly believe in Patagonia’s approach to producing quality goods and their overarching support of the environment. So, when they communicated their mission as “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis,” all of which I’m a firm believer in, I became a strong advocate. This is true whether I’m getting behind their ‘Worn Wear’ program to promote and pass on quality used Patagonia clothing, or promoting The Footprint Chronicles, which reflects their goal to reduce the adverse social and environmental impacts of their products and to make sure they are produced under safe, fair, legal and humane working conditions throughout the supply chain.
So where does this blog post lead to with regards to brand advocacy? To an unexpected place, my daughter Meredith. Meredith turned ten in December 2017, and when we asked her what she’d like to do for her birthday she suggested going to the movies with friends and having cupcakes. What was different about this though is what she said after, that she didn’t want her friends to give her gifts, but wanted to get donations for Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH). Now, as a family, we’ve been regular patients and advocates of BCH for quite a few years. Both my daughters have needed consistent and long-term medical attention over the years, but never did I think that BCH would have an advocate in a ten-year-old. So when Meredith raised nearly $400 from donations we were more than proud to drive Meredith into Boston to deliver the donations in person.
The day we delivered the donations we were meeting with Katie Minetti, Leadership Gifts Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH). What transpired not only won over a little ten-year-old girl in Meredith, but also an entire family. We had arrived at BCH at our 1pm meeting, and was told by the main desk that Katie wasn’t at this location. Fortunately though, when we called her she communicated to stay put and she’d be right over. Katie was everything you’d want in a ‘Leadership Gifts Officer:’ she was incredibly kind, well spoken, and truly understood the mission of the hospital, and most of all, she spoke directly to Meredith on a level that made Meredith felt comfortable.
To take it one step further, Katie then asked us, and Meredith, if we wanted to see some of the building improvements that had been recently completed. This was unexpected and yet incredibly smart. Katie made sure that she touched on all of the areas that would interest Meredith while giving us, her parents, a slightly enhanced update on things like the mission of the hospital and what was going to happen next in construction and BCH’s expansion.
When the tour finally wrapped up, Katie made sure Meredith felt appreciated and how thankful the hospital was. Most important of all she asked Meredith, ‘Where do you want to apply your donations?’ Meredith knew exactly where, Pawprints. Pawprints is Boston Children’s Hospital’s animal-assisted visitation program, providing patients and their families with a healthy diversion from the usual hospital routine and an opportunity for social interaction with dogs.
Katie, you did a phenomenal job winning over not only a little ten-year-old child, but her family and four brand advocates for Boston Children’s Hospital for life.
So, what are some of the takeaways from this post pertaining to brand advocacy?