Brand champions are people who without your influence, pay or threats have decided to love and promote your product or service to anyone who will listen. These are extremely powerful and influential people who you need to learn to recognize, become friends with and keep happy.
We live in a world full of advertising, one where we are so inundated by paid messages that we tend to ignore nearly all of it. Occasionally something will cut through the clutter if it is uniquely funny, informative or interesting, but for the most part paid advertising remains the annoying hum that tunes out. That’s where Brand Champions come in. Their messages are not ignored or tuned out because they are our friends and family members, they are real people whose opinions are considered more authentic and real. They aren’t paid to change buying decisions from a “no” to a “yes”, they are just sharing their own great experience with your brand. It’s the reason we now Yelp! UrbanSpoon or Amazon to check the ratings and the comments on every place, food, thing and experience we consider purchasing. We tend to trust Word-of-Mouth-Marketing more than any other avenue, and because of this Brand Champions are often able to reach your audience better than any advertisement, marketing effort or public relations offering you could come up with.
Brand Champions can be found anywhere because….
They can be customers, employees, family members, suppliers, venders, distributors, government or really anyone in your stakeholder circle. These are the people who care about your band and want it to succeed. They normally have had an exceptional experience with your brand that has taken them from buyer (or repeat buyer) to Brand Champion. Talk to people in person and online, find out how they feel about your brand and isolate on the ones who already are Brand Champions or have the potential to become one. Look for them in the circles you do business with, in online topics that connect with what you’re doing, and of course within your own social media sphere of influence.
Brand Champions are different from Repeat Customers because…
They promote your goods or services their friends, family and social circles. They will talk about your brand to anyone who will listen because they love it and what it has done for them. Repeat customers are important (and often are the only things keeping you afloat), but brand champions go one step further by giving you free, trusted marketing that can strengthen your brand and reputation along with helping to grow and build your business.
You should make friends with your Brand Champions because…
They can help you make decisions. If you have a new product, service or idea, talk to your Brand Champions first. Find out what it is that they like, don’t like or are indifferent about. See what excites them and what doesn’t. They may surprise you with new ideas or suggestions that you never even considered. Having the conversation is not only useful (and free!) feedback for you and your brand, but also makes your Brand Champions feel valued. Being the first to know about a new product or service and their part in making it happen helps to reinforce their belief in your brand and their decision to promote it.
You should make your Brand Champions feel valued because…
Often the loudest of your haters used to be Brand Champions who became disillusioned over time. Usually there are far more people who will take the time to say something negative than those who will say something positive. Since Brand Champions are among those special people who will go out of their way to say good things, do not expect them to be quiet if they turn on you.
Do you know where your Brand Champions are? Are you engaging them and making them feel valued? Or taking advantage of their knowledge and interest to further your business goals? If not, then get to it! Brand Champions are a wonderful and under-utilized resource that you could be taking advantage of. Do you have a story about a Brand Champion you know, or have questions? Comment below.