How Advocacy Leads To More Sales

Advocacy and Sales

You may be surprised to discover there is a relatively easy way to create advocacy for your business and how this effort can lead to more sales. No, it doesn’t Super Sales Advocatesinvolve selling your soul, complicated online tactics, or becoming a social media slave.  In fact you already have a built-in sales force of super heroes – you just don’t realize it.

All you have to do is to identify satisfied customers and energize them to become an advocacy group for you.

That’s it?

Yep.  Identify and Energize.  That simple process will help you achieve more sales.

So, how do you do that? I’ll show you, but first let’s be certain we’re on the same page with who qualifies as an advocate and why this group is so important to your business.

Definition of an Advocate

Exactly what is an advocate?  It is someone who goes to bat for you and your business.  They believe in you, what you offer so much that they are willing to speak or to write in favor of you.  They are those who are willing to not only support your business, but will also willingly recommend it publicly to others.

An advocate is a true believer.  They not only know, like and trust you, they are in love with you. Whatever secret o-la-la sauce you are using, they have become addicted to it.  They not only want more, they want to share it with others.  In so doing, they create more sales.

Don’t confuse a advocate with a customer who signed up for your loyalty program.  True advocates don’t require incentives to work for you.  In fact, doing so, may dilute their interest in you.

How Advocacy Creates More Sales

Here are some powerful numbers to consider as reported by Zuberance, an advocacy agency.

  • We know that nine out of ten consumers trust word of mouth. Zuberance estimates that this fact means that advocacy is 10X more effective than traditional advertising.  Cut this estimate in half and it is still a better bargain than plain online or offline media.
  • Per Facebook‘s Paul Adams, one advocate recommendation reaches 10,000 people if it is passed along only 3 times.  Another good reason to be fully engaged in social media.
  • Per Zuberance research, each advocate can deliver, on average, 3 new customers.  Dependent upon your business, this could represent tens of thousands or millions of additional revenue.  Can you make the same claim about your traditional media efforts?
  • Advocates tell twice as many people about their purchases as non-Advocates (“Engaging Advocates Through Search and Social Media,” Comscore, Yahoo!).
  • 76% of Americans talk about brands in a typical day. An average of 10 brands are mentioned every day and 70% of brand mentions include a recommendation (MediaVest Keller Fay Group Study).

Don’t Have Advocates? 

Oh, yes you do!  You may not realize it, but every business worth its salt has a hidden army of advocates.

Most business owners either assume they don’t have advocates or guess that they may have 5% or 10% truly satisfied customers willing to spread the word.

Research shows that an average of 50% of a business’ customer base are advocates.  The average for B2C is 70-80% and 30-40% for B2B.  This means that at least half of your customer base could be an entire sales force for your business.

How To Identify Advocates

For a several decades, one question has been identified as being the truest and most complete measurement of customer satisfaction.  The question is:

How likely is it that you would recommend [your company] to a friend or colleague?

The person is asked to rate their likelihood on a 0-10 point rating scale.  The higher the rating the better.  This question is typically followed by a request that the respondent explain their reasons for their rating.

Research companies, like Net Promoter, that do this for a living, tell us that this question identifies three categories of people:  Detractors, Passives and Promoters.

Advocate Scale per Net Promoter

Your army of sales advocates are those who give “9” or “10” ratings.

To identify your advocates, ask the customer satisfaction question everywhere.  Ask it at all of your customer touch points.  Email them the question after they’ve had an experience with you.  Ask them to complete this question during check-out or when you deliver the check.  Post this question to your social media networks like Facebook or Twitter once every 10 or 14 days.  Have your customer service people ask this question.

With diligence, you’ll have a database of your advocates in no time.  You’ll also have a better understanding of why some are not as crazy about your company making it far easier for you to take corrective measures.

Make It Easy To Be Your Advocate

The second part of the process is to energized your advocates.  You want to make it super easy for them to share information about you and about their experience with you.  How you do this is only limited by your imagination.

  • Request product, business related stories from them.  Turn them into case histories or customer stories and pass along for them to share with their audience.
  • Have them write testimonials or articles that you use on your website, in your social media, and for them to pass along to their networks.
  • Request photos with your product and create a cool ebook album.  Send out links so they can pass along.
  • Create Tweets of positive customer quotes that they can share.
  • Put a “Refer A Friend” button on your web page or on your Facebook Page encouraging them to use it.
  • Get them involved in special events.

There you are…a clear path to more sales.

Your Turn:  When are you going to get started on identifying and energizing your army of advocates?  What ideas can you share about how to energize your advocates?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you found this post interesting, join our list of readers and as always feel free to share this post with others.

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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  1. Hi Sheila:

    I write a $75 check to guests who refer their friends to me once that friend makes a reservation. Their check is mailed in a handwritten note with a heart-felt thank you. A few business cards are included.

    It works!

    • Lynn: I’m glad this technique is working so well for you. But don’t confuse a referral program with an advocacy program.

      The primary difference with your brand advocates is advocates aren’t looking for pay back. They are willing and able to spread a positive word about you. In fact, some studies have shown that incentives can diminish advocates interest.

      In addition to your current efforts, you may want to identify your advocates (see magic question above) and ask them to provide you with stories, articles, videos of their attitudes toward your company. In turn, use these materials in your social media, on your website. Communicate with your advocates so they can use these fresh materials to spread the word.

      Many thanks for your response and look forward to hearing from you again, soon.


  2. I set prospects up to become raging advocates by giving them a “Contractors Guide” during my estimate visit. As a painting contractor, I hear lots of horror stories, and the guide outlines questions they should ask anyone with whom they may trade money for services.

    This immediately sets me apart from my competition, and establishes my professionalism and concern for consumers.

    Once I have completed the project, I send an email newsletter of thanks and a request to review our services while the experience is fresh in their minds. I include a small handful of links to sites we have profiles on that requires a simple click. We have received 6 reviews on Angies List in the past 10 months.

    We also have a referral rewards program that offers incentives to be used on future projects to the referring customer; it “pays” them to refer us.

    • Mike, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      I love the idea of the free guide to prospects and the system you have in place for current customers to review our services. These are great systems every business owner should have in place.

      You didn’t mention how the referral program is going. The referral rewards program is great, but with an advocacy program, you don’t have to offer them any rewards. In fact, some research suggests rewards and loyalty programs tend to dampen the enthusiasm of advocates.

      If you continue to look for ways to make it easy for your current customers to show their appreciation, you’ll be doing good.

      Again, thanks for sharing your ideas.

      It’s all about getting those who really love you to do some of the sales work for you

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