Do You Have Brand Advocates?

Kristen Tepper

Hi All,

I was just curious... Do you think you/your dealership has some people out there, whether they are customers, employees, friends or family that you could truly call "brand advocates"?  By definition "a brand advocate is a person, or customer who talks favorably about a brand or product, and then passes on positive word-of-mouth (WOM) messages about the brand to other people." 

And If so, do you feel you're currently optimizing on their WOM? Or encouraging them and others to pass on even more positive WOM? 

I know a client whose porters are some of his most loyal and effective brand advocates, one porter brings in anywhere from 3-10 referral leads a month! 

What do you think? Do you have a ton of brand advocates out there helping you sell more vehicles? Or do you feel you may not be focusing in on that opportunity enough? or maybe you're not 100% sure the best way to go about rounding those people up or starting to track and optimize on them?


Chris K Leslie

Are Brand Advocates normally on the payroll? 

Jeremy DeLorm

I would say that a great way to create brand advocates is through social media combined with a "bring a friend" type promotion. The incentive could be a % off a vehicle or even a free oil change. Using your Facebook audience as an example would be a great resource to generate new business via a brand advocate. Another would be using a mailer or even an email blast using your dealerships database.

Either way a reccomendation from a friend or relative carries a ton more wieght in the consumer buying cycle then any other marketing/ advertising effort.

Kristen Tepper

Hey @Chris! It really depends how you would want to ascribe and utilize the title of "brand advocate" and the type of "brand advocate" program you want to run. If you look to companies like Paypal and/or Airbnb, they'll say ANYONE who refers/shares is a brand advocate and deserves to be tracked and optimized on - employee, customer, mom, dad, or pet chicken but you can also look to other companies who run solely customer referral programs and in other cases affiliate programs.

The difference between these two programs is that a customer referral program is (IMO a stronger brand advocate program) these customers are sharing and referring because they love their product and want to share it with their loved ones, and the reward is a enticing reminder + bonus. An affiliate program is driven by the financial opportunity and they often refer and share with others they do not personally know. 

There's also a lot more pride and gamification tied to the title of Brand Advocate in comparsion to "employee" who "should" pitch their company because it's "their company". Reason being ... some people work for companies they wouldn't necessarily recommend to a friend, hence they are on the payroll as an employee, yes, but definitely not a brand advocate! It takes something more, good culture, team, and/or effort to turn employees from the does their job worker bees into brand advocates

David Zotti

Brand advocates/ambassadors are great for increasing word of mouth knowledge of a company or automotive brand. A Hyundai dealer has done this for the new Genesis luxury brand. 

While it has its perks to increase word of mouth awareness, there's a trick in order for a brand advocate to be successful. In most cases your sales people should be your brand advocates, so they can drive sales for themselves and the store. Having some random person just represent the brand is a waste.

A brand advocate/ambassador should have a strong network, Highly known reputation on social media, or should be the face of your PR at events or in any videos created by the dealership to give a few ideas. Brand advocates work best in dealerships with Im house marketing departments. It's important to strategize on this before moving forward. 

Kristen Tepper

Hey David,

Thank you! These are awesome points and intel there and it be awesome if you could count on every salesperson to be an epic brand advocate, then all of your employees as well. Then to be able to have cohesive strategized messaging from them across mediums. And i'll have to do some more investigating on Genesis luxury brand.

I must say though, I don't think it ends there or even close! Customers are more powerful now than ever before, mostly in thanks to social media. Social media has allowed for more and more "everyday" people to have a voice and to become brand advocates for products/services they love, & vice versa, you'll surely hear from an angry customer and so will 50+ of their friends.

Think of uber or airbnb... I am an AIRBNB FEIGN (advocate)! I refer/share constantly and brag about it in random social settings because I love the entire process and for every person I get to sign up and utilize the service, i get $25 travel bucks, CHA_CHINGG. I think i've racked up about 10-15 successful referrals. Now I don't have a huge social following (not cool enough I suppose :P) and I definitely don't work for AIRBNB but am I a Brand Advocate? For sure and I think i'd be safe to say, those 10-15 referrals are probably more than some customer service reps at airbnb can say they've gotten for their employer. And i've turned some of my friends into brand advocates as well, collecting their own healthy 3-4 referrals.

Lastly, let's NIX social media from the equation because a decent chunk of your buying audience still doesn't "Do Social Media", right? We've got some clients with brand advocates aged 45+ who don't even know what a twitter account is and they pull in 5+ quality leads a month for the dealerships!

Don't get me wrong, having your salespeople as your own force of brand advocates is IDEAL but i don't think it should be the end-all-be-all, there are customers out there, who might not meet that "ideal" criteria but are just as powerful, if not MORE! These customers/brand advocates exist for dealerships. It's just about finding them, tracking them and then optimizing on them. :D

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