The idea of your customers promoting your brand for you is appealing, right? After all, word-of-mouth promotion is still recognised as one of the most effective means of reaching new customers and building trust.
Encouraging your current customers to act as brand evangelists and advocates can do incredible things for your business… just ask the clever cookies at Apple and Amazon.
What is Brand Evangelism?
At the bones of it, brand evangelism, or evangelism marketing, is a form of word-of-mouth marketing, where customers are so happy with the product or service they receive they become voluntary advocates – acting as a cheerleader for that product or service and convincing other in their social and professional circles to use it.
Unlike other methods of promotion, where customers are encouraged to recommend products through incentives (such as affiliate marketing), brand evangelism is characterised by customers spreading the word solely out of belief in and passion for the product, and to provide value to other users.
Because they act independently and are generally not paid, brand evangelists are considered trustworthy and credible by other potential customers, and often become key influencers. Author and former chief evangelist for Apple, Guy Kawasaki, is considered by many to have popularised evangelism marketing.
Case Study: iArmy
Naturally, Apple is considered the brand in terms of having a cult-like army of brand evangelists, and you need only log on to your social media profiles to see Apple-advocacy in action.
A quick search on the terms iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Mac on Twitter will reveal how many people are talking about Apple’s products at any given moment (tip: it’s a LOT). Apple’s official @AppStore account has more than 2 million followers, while @iTunesMusic has over 4 million.
Similarly, communities of brand evangelists who have made it their business to dedicate themselves to Apple products and services news, such as @MacRumours (400,000+ followers), @Macworld (300,000+ followers) and @cultofmac (almost 500,000 followers), also have significant followings – demonstrating the power associated with being aligned with the brand as an evangelist.
Twitter isn’t the only space to see the Apple army in action, though. Despite not being active on Facebook, Apple Inc. still has 9.7 million Likes. Searching Instagram for #Apple, #iPad or #iPod will yield more than 3 million posts each.
So, if evangelism marketing is one of the purest and most effective forms of promotion, how can you create brand evangelists to go out and spread the good word about your business’ products and services?
Offer Something Amazing
Of course, you have to start by offering your customers a truly great product. If you can nail this, the very nature of evangelism marketing means half of your job is already done for you. People love to share the things that delight them with friends. If you can delight your customers with an exceptional product or service, they’ll be itching to tell someone about it.
Start from the Inside
If you want to get the ball rolling and encourage brand evangelism of your products, start from the inside and make it easy for your employees to act as brand advocates. These are the people who should know your product best, and believe in it, so spoil them with a few product freebies, if you can, and encourage them to get the word out there.
Social media has become a huge platform for brand evangelism, so be sure to have an active presence across all of the major platforms your customers hang out on. Post links, images, videos and photos that your brand advocates will want to share with their networks – and be sure to thank and engage with those folks talking about your products.
The Art of Conversation
Particularly in your social engagement online, drop the marketing speak and business jargon and keep your focus on conversations. People buy from people and brands they like and connect with. As Guy Kawasaki has said, brand evangelism is about selling a dream, not just products.
Part of what makes evangelism marketing so effective is when a brand can build an active community of fans, followers and advocates buzzing about their products. Building a community is easy when you’re offering people the chance to be part of something cool, unique, or special. Just consider how passionate people are about their chosen brand of smartphone – often their decision to purchase a particular device is just as much about joining a ‘cult of cool’ as it is about functionality.