Defining your Brand Advocate
February 1, 2014
Have you ever sat down and defined your brand advocate? Not just a broad description of your brand’s target audience, but a rich definition of the perfect individual that reflects your brand? Many clients we work with find this very unnatural: they are absorbed in age bands, income ranges, and socioeconomic tags.
If you feel the same, then take a break from this ‘marketing-speak.’ Defining your brand advocate as an individual may seem limiting, but we promise it will create
all sorts of ideas and opportunities.
A few examples of the dangers of using age ranges: Marketing plans typically define the brand’s target audience in age ranges. The range may be 25-30 years old, or it may be 30-40 years old. We’re all familiar with this type of scenario, and all too comfortable with it.
The risks of using age ranges become even clearer as the target audience gets younger. A target audience of 8- to 12-year-olds for a children’s brand may seem reasonable in a marketing plan, but anyone with kids will tell you that the wants and needs of a 12-year-old are very different from those of an 8-year-old.
As the “Baby Boomers” age, it has become abundantly clear that for the 50+ segment, their ages are just a number. Remember, this is the group who invented “going against the grain.” The last thing they want is for some company to ignore them just because they are no longer between the ages of 18 and 34. In addition, they are the group with the largest spending power. What a shame to overlook this market simply because they may be classified as “ too old.”
Using age ranges as the starting point for building a strong brand creates all kinds of confusion and fuzzy thinking. And if that isn’t confusing enough, remember that Baby Boomers span the birth years from 1946 to 1964. Imagine trying to market to a group with an eighteen-year span. A 60-year-old certainly has different wants and needs than a 42-year-old. Or maybe not! And the risks are the same with all the other ranges, bands and tags we use in marketing plans.
So, get specific. Create an individual. Write the profile of an individual, write their daily diary, and even role-play their life. We give our target audiences a face and a name, and learn to love them. You can use research to guide you, but use your insight and intuition, too. And build up a rich picture of not just words, but of music, images, and sounds. Don’t limit yourself to this individual’s relationship with your brand, or even just your category.
Explore their life in totality—for example:
• Their daily habits
• Where they shop
• Which brands they buy (in every category, not just yours)
• Where and when they socialize
• The clothes they wear; the music they love
• The political party they support
• The current ‘issues’ they are passionate about (or not!)
• Their motivations and attitudes to career, life and love
The list is endless. If you’re not sure if your brand advocate is male or female, then create a couple, or colleagues, and do the same for both—then explore the differences and similarities between them.
Finally, explore the opportunities. As you are doing this work you’ll start to see opportunities. These opportunities might be communications-related: new media you could test, an unidentified new brand touch point, a new promotional idea, or a new moment to reach into the life of your brand advocate.
Or the opportunity may be more strategic—it may have an impact on how you define your desired brand. Or it may be that you see a potential brand partnership or a product innovation you could explore. Whatever the immediate payback, you’ll find defining your brand advocate as an individual to be a worthwhile investment…because a brand advocate is a human brand asset. Defining and focusing on your next best customer by giving them life allows you to create experiences and build the all-important emotional connection with them. It doesn’t matter what you are selling: soft drinks to teens, cosmetics to women, or a software infrastructure to senior IT executives – it’s always about the people.
Once customers become your brand advocates and go off steadfastly in support of your mission, their credibility is enormous, their power tremendous, and their value—immense.