5 Steps To Turn Your Customers Into Brand Advocates

Marketing isn’t about making a quick appeal to the masses anymore; it’s about creating a personalized experience and establishing a long-term customer relationship.


We all understand that a new model is emerging in the world of marketing. This new model is being fueled by the increase in intelligence by both the consumer and technology delivering the message. It’s more about personalization of content than the number of people we reach. It is also about communicating to an individual in order to earn that peer recommendation, and the creation of the brand advocate. We want to focus on the “who” instead of the “how many.” It is also about being smarter with your database of contacts, because the concepts and ideals behind the mass marketing model are fading.

In order to have a new model, you must have an old model. When you define the traditional marketing approach it is important to look at the different types of data. Traditionally we tend to focus three data points:

  • Transactional – What did the person buy and how much did they pay?
  • Generational – Are they a baby boomer, millennial, or generation X?
  • Geographical – Where does this person live? What is the zip code?

It has become easier to define the value of each data point. Did customer X spend $200 in the store? Send them a coupon for additional shopping. However, we are starting to see a change in the way a consumer buys. Amazon figured it out with recommended reading and shopping. This is a push toward more focused data to strengthen the sales lifecycle of the consumer. And it is this change in the sales lifecycle–or the number of steps a customer must take to truly become an advocate of a brand–is also changing the data behind that lifecycle. It is not as simple as purchase and share. It is about education, support, and development. A new world is emerging, one that defines the personalization of marketing content directly to the consumer.

Data and metrics have always been important. The three data points listed above are the foundation in the world of direct-response marketing like direct mail and email. However, there are two other data points that define this “Amazon-like” personalized marketing.

  • Aspirational – Why did the person actually buy or want to buy a product? What is the deeper meaning behind the purchase intent? If you want to sell to an individual, it’s important to understand their needs, not a survey group.
  • Psychological – How does the person interact with the world? How do they consume content? Are they a driver or intuitive? Creative or analytical?

This focus is more on the individual than the mass market. With technology available that allows individualized and variable content, it is important to find ways to drive an individual to provide information around the two “emotional” data points. With all five data points being successfully delivered to a customer, they feel like you (the brand) is listening to them. They feel important. All five data points are extremely important when feeding content through a customer’s life cycle, whether new or old.

All this is to say, the best customer is a sharing customer. We have a huge opportunity to build each individual being captured through the marketing process, whether you are using billboards, direct mail, email, or social. Each individual should be taken through the process of education and community involvement.


Here’s a breakdown the five steps of the new customer lifecycle:

1.Capture. In order to generate leads, it is important to use integrated approaches for sending and distributing information. This could be in the form of content marketing through a blog, email, direct mail, landing pages, social media, mobile, or any other marketing tool in the box. But, the key term in this discussion is “capture.” Are you actually capturing the information from the individual? Remember that an increase in website traffic is great, but a name and address is better.
2.Promote. This is all about education. Can you create content and an educational experience to promote your expertise? Are you creating content that inspires users to share information and become involved in the process? A quick tip for promotion through education: If you are still paying a web designer to make changes to your website content, you may have a problem. Creating content that inspires is about telling stories, not providing users with another brochure to read.
3.Join. Invite the individual to join a community of their peers. This could be a Facebook Page or a community page created by you, the organization, or business. It could also be a group where your clients discuss different ways you have helped them. If you become a resource and allow the individual to interact with other people who view you as a resource, the bond will strengthen between brand and individual.
4.Purchase. Ask for the sale. This could be defined as a coupon in the mail or a small gift card to get the new customer in the door. Use your email list to drive people to an event at your store or business. It is always easier said than done, but if you capture, promote, and get them to a join a community of other advocates it will be easier to ask for the purchase. The purchase then leads to the support of sharing about that product which is the advocate.
5.Advocate. This is the most important aspect of this entire process, but it’s not possible if the other steps have not been taken. In order for an individual to become a true advocate for your brand, you must educate and allow them to be involved in a community of people who care about your mission. On top of all this, if they are educated and understand what you do, they are going to be a better advocate for your brand. Good first step? Remember to always give people the ability to share your information with their peers. If you are not sending emails and asking about their experience or putting a share button on your website, you need to do it now. (Seriously, stop reading and go do it.)

People are becoming accustomed to a personalized process and they are demanding that you know the five data points of personalization to walk them through a process of support and education before the purchase. I have an entire bookshelf set aside solely to my recommended reading from because it followed those five steps. It is important that we, as professionals, start shifting our focus from tools to strategy.

How can you take each individual through a process that creates advocacy on the other side of the sale? Capture. Promote. Join. Purchase. Advocate.

Kyle Lacy is principal at MindFrame, a digital direct response company serving the nonprofit sector. He is the author of two books: Twitter Marketing for Dummies (Wiley, 2009) and Branding Yourself (Pearson, 2010). He is a member of The Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The Y.E.C promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.

[Image: FLickr user John Carleton]