By Kevyn Faulkenberry, Executive Creative Director
Outside of sales, it used to be marketing professionals were mainly concerned about impressions. How could we get people to just see our message? That question drove many a marketing plan. However, now people have more and more messages competing for their attention every day. Are impressions alone still the best metric to build a marketing plan around? Especially when there are now two other powerful customer metrics to work towards: Expressions and Advocacy.
Expressions Trump Impressions
There’s no denying that most major brands recognize impressions as the “connective tissue” to their overall marketing efforts – but many major brands, like Coca-Cola, have started placing greater value on their customers’ “expressions.” The difference is simple: what somebody saw vs. what somebody spent time interacting with (liked, viewed, commented, re-tweeted, uploaded, shared, etc.).
Expression is a different spin on “engagement” – but brands like Coke are becoming more intentional about its value (especially at the executive level), they are in a continual process of analyzing expression data to more effectively drive their actions. Why just have customers passively view your brand’s communication efforts when they can interact with it? What do you think will stick with them longer?
Advocacy Trumps Loyalty
Brands are also realizing the loyalty isn’t the end of the road for their customers. Joe Tripodi, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer of Coca-Cola, recent authored an article in the Harvard Business Review where he also discussed the focus on expressions and advocacy.
He mentioned that: “Awareness is fine, but advocacy will take your business to the next level. I used to think that loyalty was the highest rung on the consumer pyramid until I became the CMO of Allstate Insurance. There, I saw clearly that so much business was driven through personal referrals and advocacy by individuals for their agent.”
Tripodi points to Coca-Cola creating video content that generated 26 million YouTube views, while 120 million views were of Coca-Cola content created by others.
He admits that saying your consumers are the ones that really own your brand might be met with controversy – but also to his point, the best Coca-Cola can do is “be a facilitator who manages communities, not a director who tries to control them.”
Advocacy is powerful. 78% of people trust peer-to-peer recommendations over any other source when it comes to making a buying decision, so you can’t have too many brand advocates out there. Often, you just need to provide them with a community or platform to show their love. While managing the social media efforts for Bealls, we notice customers posting on the Bealls Facebook page all the time proclaiming how much they love Bealls. Those kind words aren’t just seen by the people who follow the Bealls page, but all of the Facebook friends of the people doing the posting. Here are a few examples.
So here are some questions to ask yourself? Are your potential customers just registering an impression of your brand’s message or are they interacting with it? And are your best customers moving beyond just being repeat customers to becoming brand advocates? Have you given them tools to help them help you acquire new customers? The more online communication tools empower customers, the more impact they will continue to have on helping, or hurting your business.
We’d love to talk with you about ways the Dalton Agency can help you can build more engagement and advocacy opportunities into your brand’s overall strategy. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.