Every brand wants to encourage their constituents to actively engage in Brand Advocacy – and in today’s highly connected world, this is even more important than ever. That’s why our friend, Rob Fuggetta, founded Zuberance – a social marketing company that helps brands create authentic relationships with their customers and facilitates advocacy. And now, Rob has written a book on the subject: “Brand Advocates – Turning enthusiastic customers into a powerful marketing force.” This is an interesting subject, so we sat down with Rob to talk about his book, his company, and how brands are leveraging social platforms to super-charge their advocates. And, here’s what he had to say!

Advocacy is a very powerful asset for brands.

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Marketers traditionally have sought to build strong brands by moving a customer through the sales funnel of awareness, consideration, preference, purchase and loyalty. But Rob Fuggetta would argue that there’s an even more powerful stage that marketers need to harness today: advocacy. The concept of advocacy isn’t new. People have been recommending brands since they first gathered around a water cooler. But today, Rob believes the power and possibility of advocacy has reached a new scale. “Today the groundswell of social media means that ‘word of mouth’ is now massively amplified.”

In a social world, advocacy is more important than ever.

At Liquid, we recognize that in the hyper-connected world that we all live in, advocacy is a huge opportunity for brands. But Rob was so sure of this perfect storm of social and word of mouth that he actually founded Zuberance to help brands identify, activate, and track brand advocacy. The engagement process starts with a question familiar to every company using Net Promoter™ Scores as a brand metric. The Net Promoter concept is based on this simple question: “On a scale of 0 – 10, how likely are you to recommend us to others?” The attention is given to those who answer “9” and “10” – the highly likely to recommend. These are the people ripe for the brand, and Rob says nearly every company has them.

The biggest reason brand advocates are so powerful is a single, five-letter word: Trust.

Rob Fuggetta

Zuberance

Advocacy is super valuable, but it cannot be bought.

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Rob’s fundamental premise is you can’t pay for advocacy – and his company has generated more than 30 million conversations between advocates without a single one being paid. He says, “it’s no longer about more ‘likes,’ it’s about doing things that are meaningful and productive with our social audience.” This thinking makes great sense to us. At Liquid we believe brands must be authentic to an organization’s culture, beliefs and heritage. We know the strongest brands are built upon a core set of truths. The same can be said for advocacy. Advocacy works because it is real, authentic and truthful. Advocates take a personal stake in a brand through their endorsement and it’s because of this authentic enthusiasm that others trust it and pay more attention.

Brand Advocacy is not just for consumer companies.

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It’s pretty easy to see how advocacy is such a great asset for consumer brands. However, B2B companies are discovering equal, if not more, success in this arena. Rob says “You don’t have to necessarily be in a passion category to have passionate brand advocates.”  His book features dozens of examples, including Parallels –  a software brand that offers a solution enabling people to run Windows and Mac programs simultaneously on their Macs. Parallels (which coincidentally is a former Liquid client) knew it had some enthusiastic customers, but when it started a systemized approach to activating them through the Zuberance platform it unleashed a powerhouse marketing force and some impressive results.

Advocates are your the most valuable customers of all.

Loyal customers are those who keep buying from you. Advocates are those customers who actively champion your brand and influence the buying habits of others. It’s for this reason that advocates are the most valuable customers of all. Just how valuable? Rob and others have built formulas to calculate ROI. The simplest formula considers the spend value of the advocate, plus what’s called the advocacy value (sales and marketing value coming from referrals, reviews, recommendations, etc). Putting it all together, Rob estimates a brand advocate is worth at least 5 times more than an average customer. This is the value of an individual advocate, in isolation. As more data comes in from companies that are working with Zuberance, the numbers are even more impressive.