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If you were to ask the CEO of a software company that specailizes in cultivating brand advocates what direction marketing is heading in the future, what answer would you expect?

Yes, Richard Beedon is the founder and CEO of Amplifinity, a Web service for enterprises designed to help them reach their brand advocates and get them engaged, thinks brand advocacy is the current trend that all marketers must pay attention to. No surprise, but he makes his case fairly elegantly in this post for MarketingProfs.

Basically he says the first phase of marketing was done through old media like television, where it couldn’t be measured. The second phase of marketing used two-way communications methods like e-mail and social media channels. That phase saw the power shift from brands to customers, because brands no longer controlled the flow of information, the argument goes. So now we are entering phase three of digital marketing history with advocacy. Brands can take the power back by turning those customers that love them into marketing channels that will spread their message.

There’s four reasons this is critical to build, Beedon writes:

1. Consumers trust other consumers. Consumers are no longer forced to rely on a brand for information about the brand’s products. Why would they when they can obtain transparent information from their social networks and other consumers within minutes?

2. The advocate channel, once built, has a powerful voice. Advocates can now reach potential buyers at scale. And they can do many things on a brand’s behalf, such as refer friends, write testimonials, forward content, and share new products and promotions.

3. Advocates extend your salesforce. Advocates know when friends and acquaintances in their networks are “in market.” Brands don’t. It’s pretty simple; the more people you have marketing your products and services, the greater chance of conversion. These “social assets” typically perform much better than traditional channels.

4. There are now systems to help you track and manage advocate activity. It’s simple to empower advocates with tools to reach out to your prospects. With the right technology in place, brands can now track and manage advocates’ willingness to spread a brand’s message.

So there’s Beedon’s pitch for considering advocacy as part of your marketing mix. It’s worth pointing out that Amplifinity has competitors in the advocate marketing segment that include Toronto-based Influitive, NextBee, and Ambassador.

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