There’s no such thing as unconditional love!
It was cool to see how the conversation manager philosophy inspired an entire track of last week's general ESOMAR Congress in Athens. As one of the attendees, one particular presentation and paper caught my attention because it delivered some new insights on how brand advocacy works.
The project that our British colleagues of Spring research executed, was initiated by the digital marketing team within LG Electronics USA who wanted to create a digital advocacy program. Catherine Willis of LG explained how the brand was eager to understand more about post purchase advocacy of their clients in order to create mechanisms that would encourage LG owners to spread the word for them. The project started with reviewing existing WOM models, which all seemed to be rather brand centric instead of consumer centric. Of course, people rarely see themselves as advocates. A brand just becomes an important part of their life linked to their personality, lifetime events and preferences. For someone to become a brand advocate it takes the combination of the right person (someone who enjoys sharing his experiences), having the right experience (a wow-interaction with the brand) within the right category (high involvement with the category).
Often marketers are narrow-minded when it comes to thinking of their categories. For LG for instance, it would be easy to define its category as ‘consumer electronics’ but when you broaden up this view to for instance an active engagement with sports, a lot more insights and advocacy opportunities will emerge.
The project delivered 4 types of advocates: anecdotal, ardent, advisory and anonymous advocates. Each of these types requires a different approach. For instance, anecdotal advocates seem to focus the stuff they share on experiences while advisory advocates, who are highly interested in a category, are often relating their views to their own hobbies. Anonymous advocates are best reached using online media since they spend a lot of time writing their online reviews. Ardent advocates are the most passionate and worth their weight in gold since your brand is an integral part of their life.
Another interesting insight brought up in this paper is that advocacy is time sensitive. It reaches its highest level just after purchase but tends to decline when it is not refreshed by new experiences. In other words, there’s no such thing as a “permanent unconditional brand lover”. If Apple wouldn’t come up with new innovations every few months, it would loose its leading WOM position. It’s easy to become a cool brand, but’s it’s hard to stay hot for your advocatesâ€¦
Catherine Willis of LG Electronics ended her presentation with a view on how her company is using the insights of this research project today. Firstly, the advocacy model is at the heart of LG’s CRM program. Within the first 30 days after purchasing an LG, every owner is contacted. This is not only supporting the brand’s Net Promoter Score but also re-engaging anecdotal advocates. In the research project, LG learned that immediately after purchase, consumers tend to become the ‘experts’ in their own social circle. Their friends and relatives turn to them for advice on brands. The 30 day policy is new to LG and has advanced the company’s conversation with consumers. Prior to the project, LG felt they had to wait a couple of months and not ‘bother’ their new clients too soonâ€¦ Although LG’s main contact with the consumer used to go through the retailer, after this advocacy project, the marketing team understood that a direct engagement with the end consumer is the key to real advocacy. LG launched education programs through phone calls and social media to teach owners how to get the most of their products and they are also creating an advocate community, allowing brand lovers to talk to each other.
I believe this is a great case of how managing the conversation can lead to higher brand advocacy and better return on investments.