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What Emirates Airline Can Teach You About Brand Advocacy

Why should a company not in the luxury transportation business study a company that is?
What Emirates Airline Can Teach You About Brand Advocacy
Image credit: Mikhail Japaridze | Getty Images

How likely are your customers to recommend your brand to others? This is the only question you need to ask to measure your company’s net promoter score (NPS). Your NPS can tell you a lot about your brand and how successful you are at building brand advocacy.

Related: With the Right Incentives Loyal Customers Will Become Brand Advocates

So, why do you need brand advocates at all? Well, today, if customers see an ad for your business, ithat ad won’t necessarily be enough to convert them into customers. In fact, it often takes six to eight touches before a prospect turns into a customer.

Even more of a problem is the fact that your audience doesn’t always trust your brand. But 9 percent of them -- according to a study -- trust brand advocates. Building brand advocacy isn’t easy, though. If it were, every brand would be able to do it. Says Laura Fritton, founder of oneforty.com:“One can’t artificially ‘build’ advocacy; it is something you earn by going above and beyond to delight customers.”

Not to pun, but going above and beyond is the specialty of an industry like, say, luxury airlines -- and Emirates airline in particular. That’s why a company like Emirates has such powerful brand advocates. Even if you don’t offer luxury products or services, you can borrow a few of its tactics to learn more about brand advocates. Here are three lessons you can learn from Emirates.

1. Be truly unique.

It’s not enough to say your brand is unique -- you must actually be unique. “Be authentic; don’t just act it,” says social media strategist Ted Rubin. “True authenticity will set your brand [business or personal] apart in today’s highly competitive market. Advocates are attracted to 'real' and can sniff out fake in a heartbeat.”

Think about what your brand offers and how you position yourself. What sets you apart from your competition? Why should consumers choose you over anyone else?

A luxury airline like Emirates offers an in-flight experience unlike any other. With perks for first-class customers, like showers, personal flight suites and a huge variety of food and drinks, Emirates and its competitors attract advocates just through their offerings.

Related: Employees Are Your Biggest Brand Advocates

But it doesn’t stop there. Flight attendants dress in signature outfits, harkening back to the days of 1960s Pan Am, and offer unparalleled service throughout the flight. Emirates also ensures that its employees are easily recognizable and makes sure that  customers’ needs are well taken care of. When customers are happy, they are more likely to become a brand advocate.

2. Focus on the experience

Your customers want more than just your products or services. Remember, you have to go above and beyond. You need to make choosing your brand a singular experience. When it’s an experience, people will talk about it.

The combination of perks, service and experience makes flying with Emirates a VIP adventure that customers don’t soon forget. The exclusivity of the experience also creates a mysterious curiosity that surrounds the brand. People want to know what it’s like to be on an Emirates flight.

YouTuber Casey Neistat filmed his experience with Emirates after he was upgraded to first class, on a flight from Dubai to New York. The nine-minute video that resulted has gotten over 30 million views.

Writer Mark Seal similarly detailed his experience with Emirates for Departures.com. He met a fellow passenger who was celebrating his 400th Emirates flight, and described him as “fanatically devoted, in love with the crew -- 'an international mix,’ he says -- and his fellow fliers.”

You need to make people fall in love with your brand by giving them an experience they can’t get enough of -- and one that other people will be curious about.

3. Give people what they want

For most people, flying with an airline is not exactly a pleasant experience. This is clearly what has inspired Emirates and other luxury airlines. They’ve taken something people did not enjoy and turned it into an exclusive and special experience. 

To do this with your own company, you need to put yourself in the mindset of your customers. What do they want most? How can you make their experience with your brand better? What are they most unhappy with?

Understanding your customers is one of the most important parts of brand advocacy. You can’t expect your customers to endorse you if you don’t understand their needs and wants.

To learn more about your customers, you need to do some research. Look at your demographics and create personas for each type of customer you have. Take it even further: Try holding a focus group to speak to customers face to face, or send out an email to your customers to ask them directly what it is they want most.

Related: Build Brand Advocacy From the Inside Out

Once you know what they want, give it to them -- but don’t forget to go above and beyond.

A Note From The Editor

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