Earned media vs bought: Why brand advocates always trump advertising

When consumers identify with a brand they can become advocates; even, arguably, owners of the brand. But in a world flooded with information, it can be difficult for brands to cut through the noise and reach those potential advocates, missing out on the Holy Grail of the branded world.

As Rob Fuggetta states in his new book Brand Advocates, “Advocates’ love for you isn’t fleeting…. [Apple] advocates forgave the company’s missteps like its failed early experiments with PDAs (anyone remember the Newton?) or its ill-advised foray into enterprise computing.”

But take the BlackBerry, once the undisputed global leader among smartphone users. When BlackBerry users experienced a service outage in the fall 2011, negative consumer feedback came fast and fierce. Even light-hearted complaints were disparaging. The Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri tweeted “By far the worst part of the BlackBerry outage is that I have to admit I have a BlackBerry.”

True advocates place trust in a brand, even when it falters. But brand advocates are not built by billboards. This trust is earned, not bought. Some of the world’s most successful brands have been built without advertising, including Canada’s own success story, Lululemon. This makes earned media potentially much more valuable than bought advertising.

For more on brand advocacy, check out Fuggetta’s five tips in this excerpt from Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers Into a Powerful Marketing Force: http://bit.ly/QEkQCa