Market and Sell Through People Who Love You

What is Advocacy Marketing?

Advocacy marketing is a growth strategy to acquire customers by marketing through people who care about your brand. Common types of advocates include ambassadors, influencers, industry pros, and super fans. Unlike spend on paid ads, advocate relationships grow and become more valuable over time. 
Let's Talk Advocacy Marketing
Chapter 1
Andrew Simpson

The Advocacy Marketing Methodology

Chapter 2

Who are your advocates?

Chapter 3
Bella Ridley

How to start Advocacy Marketing?

Chapter 4
Bella Ridley

Value of Advocacy Marketing

Chapter 1

The Advocacy Marketing Methodology

Advocacy marketing is a strategy of growing your brand by building lasting relationships with customers, ambassadors, influencers, and others to help acquire new customers.

It empowers and equips people to generate interest through social mentions, word-of-mouth, user-generated content (UGC), reviews, and referral sales.

Advocacy is the nirvana of marketing with lower cost and higher returns. Done right, brands see a 650% ROI for every dollar invested in advocacy marketing!

This marketing strategy believes that every individual, not just big influencers, has something they can contribute to grow your brand.

Why? Because every person has real influence.

There are 3 key pieces through an advocacy marketing strategy:

  • Connect: find, recruit, and organize everyone who loves you into one system of record (usually a CRM) that is organized by groups or programs
  • Activate: provide resources, content, and inspiration to harness their brand passion into mutually beneficial activities
  • Measure: Evaluate the impact by individual, campaign, or program to further optimize your program

When advocates find fulfillment and recognition by sharing your brand, it attracts both new customers and new advocates to your company, creating a sustainable loop of sharing. This is how great brands build momentum and truly capture the power of word-of-mouth to scale.

The Formula for Influence

Too many brands today constrain advocacy to just influencer marketing, believing that only the big influencers are worth their time and attention. However, reach isn’t everything. Here’s a simple formula to think about real influence.

Real Influence = Reach x Impact x Consistency

  • Reach: size of the person’s audience
  • Impact: the influence the person actually has. A close friend or a trusted expert has high impact, while a big influencer #ad may have very low influence
  • Consistency: a common measure for passion and authenticity. Someone who regularly shares will generate more interest than the one-post wonder

For example, many brands find super fans with ~500 followers regularly outperform massive 1-off influencers. Why? Although their reach may be smaller, they are more trusted and more consistent in sharing than a larger influencer looking for their next #sponsored post.

Chapter 2

Who Are Your Advocates?

Advocacy marketing doesn’t suggest sending free products to just anyone. Rather, it’s a strategic approach to create unique programs for different types of advocates.

Every brand is different. So first ask yourself, who are the people that influence my customers? 

Now segment those people into different groups or programs that share common purposes, messaging, campaigns, and rewards. Here’s a simple example for a brand.

While each brand may be different, there are a common programs across brands:

  • Ambassador program:
  • Influencer program:
  • Industry pro program:
  • Referral / Super fan program:
  • Employee program:
Chapter 3

Advocacy Marketing Strategies

Historically brands approached advocacy through trial-by-error experiments with a “let’s see if this works” mentality. Done right, advocacy marketing can be just as structured as paid ads or traditional marketing. Here’s how you do it.
  1. Deliver a great product or experience. 
    Regardless of how fantastic your advocacy programs are, their results will always be stifled if you don’t have a product or service worth sharing.
  2. Identify who influencers your customers.
    Not every advocate for your brand will be a big influencer. Take a moment to create personas for each real life influencer. Examples may include influencers, industry professionals, super fans, employees, shop pros, etc. Name these personas.
  3. Create programs for different types of advocates.
    Once you’ve identified your advocate personas, create programs for each unique group and give those programs a name. Maybe that’s an “ambassador program” for customers who are active on social media, or an “industry pro program” for people who work in the space like guides or coaches.
    Each program should have defined benefits, common messaging, and a general purpose such as high quality UGC, social awareness, or referral sales.
  4. Create application form(s).
    Once you’ve defined your programs, you have two options. Let everyone into the program (ie, an “open” program)Or create an application form to help segment them into

    While you can use Google Forms, we recommend using a platform such as Wooly to automatically organize people as well as track social, sales, and content that comes from the program. Here’s an example from Blendtec.
  5. Tell people!
    Several interns at Wooly reached out to 100 brands to say “I’m a huge fan, how can I be an ambassador.” Guess how many responded or had an ambassador program available for them? Two.

    That’s it. If you have an ambassador program, make sure you tell people about it! Post about it on Instagram stories, Facebook, and Twitter. Make it available on your website, use site pops, and put links in your social media bios. Send post-purchase email invites too. We’ve even seen some brands use ad retargeting to drive signups.
  6. Provide them the tools.
    Once people have signed up, make sure they have the tools to be successful. A strong ambassador program will include personal discount codes, shareable referral codes or links, inspiration on what and why to post, and rewards for those who do.

    Scaling a program beyond 20-30 influencers or ambassadors is very difficult in spreadsheets, so check out Wooly or other tools to scale your programs.

Advocacy Marketing Resources

Beyond this article, we’ve compiled a number of resources to help you create your advocacy strategy and launch your first influencer, ambassador, or super fan programs. Here are a few to help you get started:

Chapter 4

Advocacy Marketing Success

Just like planting a tree. The best time to formalize and scale your advocacy channel was 10 years ago, the next best time is today. Get going.

It may take time to build a strong advocacy marketing strategy, but it pays off. Brands that have built a channel through their advocates report faster growth, lower customer acquisition cost, higher quality content, and stronger brand loyalty. 

Grow with people who love you. Request a demo today.