THE business world is increasingly changing from a push to a customer driven market, with survival being more dependent on the business’ ability to attract customers and generate repeat business.
It should always be easier and cheaper for every business to maintain an existing customer than attract a first-time one.
Many businesses strive to create their visibility through vigorous advertising. However, the best way to promote your business products and services is by word of mouth marketing through your satisfied customers.
With the advent of social media, when customers receive satisfactory and praiseworthy services from your business, they tend to discuss it in their social network and conversely, a poor product or service inevitably rapidly goes viral.
Brand evangelism is one of the oldest forms of marketing that is promoted through the word-of-mouth marketing.
This involves a business’ satisfied customers voluntarily trying to convince other consumers to buy or use a particular brand based on a positive experience or perception.
It is worth noting that the marketing trend towards social media has proved to promote brand advocacy effectiveness due to increased consumer engagement on such forums.
Five months ago, I came across a real life Zambian context example of a brand evangelism activist on face book.
This group had a Zamtel logo which was labeled “Join the Zamtel Revolution” and was being spearheaded by a Mr Bonaventure Mutale.
Such brand evangelism group is perceived to be authentic, trustworthy and credible because such a campaign has been motivated by passion rather than compulsion or monetary rewards.
In fact, we have run this campaign of rejuvenating brand awareness in a minimum of two thousand Cel-Z subscribers!
At the beginning of the campaign Mr Mutale found out there were several thousands of the mobile network’s subscribers who lines were not active.
Our passion was based on patriotism to our national brand and state-owned company.
This goes to exemplify what a real life example of a brand evangelism group.
Imagine the revenue that would accrue to your company with such word of mouth evangelism, where we have literally asked our contacts and relatives to buy Zamtel credit!
In some cases, we asked our relatives to literally use their dormant Cel-Z numbers since it was proving to be cheaper than other competing networks.
In no time, we noticed that our acquaintances began to call us on Cel-Z lines which they had not previously used!
If Zamtel had launched similar campaigns, it would be at a huge cost but may not have had the effect of literally doing what we have been doing as brand evangelists.
From our case study, we can see that when a person identifies with a community and feels part of it, then the community’s brand norms and values become important to that person.
This in turn helps in forming a personal identity and social sense of belonging. Who doesn’t want to belong?
We all want to and in fact this is one of man’s fundamental needs.
Studies reveal that true brand evangelists spend up to 50 per cent more revenue individually than a non-brand evangelist.
Additionally, brands are conceived as meanings shared by a group of people who use them as symbols in social interaction.
The identity function of brands, such as the green Zamtel logo on our face book pages plays a role in social interactions and, thus constitutes value its subscribers.
As we have just seen, while companies are spending enormous sums on their marketing campaigns, brand evangelism has proved to be the most effective form of promotion.
From the onset, it is important to note that there are three most effective people that a company unknowingly recruits as its brand evangelists: It’s highly engaged employees, its satisfied customer and its customer groups.
In the world of marketing, substantial and effective evangelism is a lifestyle enacted and sustained by satisfied customers en masse.
That is why, brand evangelism stands out to be one of the most effective forms of promoting a product or service.
Imagine an instance where customers start a conversation that hinges on tearing down or comparing our Cel-Z mobile service provider product brands with those of its rivals.
I’m sure you will agree with me that genuine and authentic brand evangelists would come to the defense of Zamtel products or services in such discussion forums.
It is clear that brand evangelists are people who speak passionately, authentically, consistently, frequently, and positively about your business without necessarily being paid a single penny!
Every company should envisage creating great products and services that make it a lot easier for satisfied customer to jump on the “band wagon” and champion their cause as brand evangelists.
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The author is the Managing Consultant at GN Grant Business Consultant, a fellow of the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), a Master of Business Administration (MBA) holder and a candidate for the Herriot Watt University (Scotland) Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)