What’s the quickest way for you to have affinity to a brand you use?
By having a positive experience with that brand, it’s products or services.
What’s involved with having a good experience?
Getting your problem solved? Sure.
Getting value for the price you paid? Sure.
More importantly, it’s having an experience that evokes a positive emotion, one that evokes trust -- meaning your experience met or exceeded your expectations so you trust the brand that provided the experience, and you felt more closely connected to that brand as a result of your positive experience.
As a customer, this kind of brand affinity is further extended when you can share your experience with others, especially others who have also engaged with that same brand, and who have had a similar experience. When that happens, you’re immediately connected to another individual by association with the brand. This is how the network effect in a community surrounding a brand can start, and advocates are born.
Smart companies set up opportunities to help their customers not only accelerate their successes with their products/services but to capitalize on meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations with the added value of inviting them to meet, network, and educate their peers (other customers) who have shared a similar experience with the brand.
This is how social media groups around a topic, or product thrive. It's how musicians build dedicated fan bases, and it's how your company can also build a loyal following.
This advocacy effect can be leveraged to the mutual benefit of both the customer and the company. However that only takes place if you why and how advocacy happens. Then reverse engineer that journey that advocating customers take to make sure your organization is appealing to the kinds of experiences your customers are consciously, or subconsciously, looking for that will lead to their affinity of your brand and them becoming advocates in time.
So what are some of those customer journey milestones that lead a current customer to become an advocate?
(Side note: Read David Meerman Scott and Reiko Scott's book, Fanocracy for some additional in-depth thoughts and case studies around these ideas)
When you create a string of positive experiences that have an emotional appeal to your customers, you continue to build trust with them over time, and you continue to partner with them -- partnering with your customers goes well beyond a monetary transaction.
That partnership leads to your customers' affinity for you, your products or services, and your brand overall. That's how customer advocates are cultivated over time. The result is successful, happy customers that will defend your brand and help you sell to new customers, as well as extend the mutual lifetime value of their own relationship with you.
And it's just good business.
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