There are six steps to brand advocacy, the process by which an individual goes from being unaware to being a Brand Champion. Historically, the four-step AIDA model (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) has been used to explain this phenomenon, but I prefer to use the more in-depth six-step process to describe it. As I have spoken of before, Brand Champions are extremely important to the health and success of your business. They can be found anywhere you do business or with anyone you or your business has a connection with. But how does someone go from being completely unaware of your business to being a Brand Champion for you?
It has to do with repetition. It’s the reason we see the same commercial over and over again in one show, why the same print advertisement can be found in multiple newspapers and magazines, and why you get the same pop ups in your web browser regardless of where you surf. We need repetition in order to start and to go through the six steps. There is some debate on how many times you have to see something before you will remember it, and further before you will purchase it. To marketers, the idea of reaching this point without over expenditure is known as the Effective Frequency.
Awareness happens when you first hear of this good, service or idea from a friend, a blog, a clip, an advertisement, a commercial, a google search or any other means of gathering information. You do not yet have an opinion on this thing, you just know that it exists. At this stage marketers want to spread the awareness of their good or service to the most number of people as often as they can.
Consideration is what happens when you place this thing or idea up against a number of similar things and compare their pros, cons and details. You may take the time to look up reviews, do online research, ask your friends and family about it and generally gather more information to help you to make an informed decision. This is where marketers need to make sure people are aware of its Unique Selling Proposition, or what makes this good, service or idea unique and separate from its competitors. This separation explains why it should be purchased over its competition.
Preference happens after you have considered this good, service or idea against other goods, services and ideas that are similar, and have started to lean towards it. You haven’t yet made the decision to purchase this good, service or idea, but you are definitely starting to favour it over its competition. This step will not happen if it fails to distinguish itself in the previous step.
Action happens when you make a purchasing decision and actually put money down on this good, service or idea. This used to be the stage that marketers and advertisers used to reach for. All of the work that they did was to get you to this purchasing decision, and for them to receive your money. Job well done. Next person.
That is until they realized that it was a lot less work to get someone to re-buy something than it was to start from the beginning at awareness. Creating and maintaining customer loyalty is big business. All of the initial work has already been done, so the only thing you have to do is ensure that the good, service or idea is compelling enough to be purchased over and over again. Businesses often offer loyalty cards, discounts and other advantages for repeat customers. In social media, this is often done through followers, community discussions, direct emails and providing exclusive group privileges and content. Organizing these efforts is known as Customer Relationship Management.
Advocacy is the hardest step to reach, and is the one that most companies have now shifted towards as its end goal. It isn’t just about getting people to buy or even re-buy your good, service or idea. It’s about them promoting your good, service or idea to others. These people are Brand Champions and they will go out of their way to say good things about you. When you get enough of them, they will start to change the buying behaviours of those around them. They will help in the consideration and preference stages of other individuals, pointing them your way. A lot of this will be done through Word of Mouth Marketing. Advocacy leads back into awareness and the process starts all over again, except this time your Brand Champions are doing most of the work for you.
What do you think of this model? Do you think it’s out of date because of the increase of Social Media and the decline of traditional advertising or is it just evolving and getting stronger? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Want to change your customers into Brand Champions? Contact me.