The Rise of the Breakout Brand Advocate


My friend Chris just came back from the Ritz-Carlton with the most unbelievable story.

Chris’ wife and kids were spending a few days at a Ritz-Carlton in Florida. They had a great time out there. It was only when they returned home that his son realized he had left his favorite stuffed giraffe, Joshie back at the Ritz.

His son was inconsolable without his best buddy to join him at bedtime. Chris finally resorted to a little storytelling to calm him down. “He’s just taking an extra long vacation at the resort,” he said.

The Ritz called Chris later that night to tell them they’d found a stuffed giraffe in the laundry. Joshie was a little beat up, but totally fine. They were calling to say that they would put him in the mail right away.

Chris had just one request: “Would you mind taking a picture of Joshie on a lounge chair by the pool?” he asked.

Joshie arrived soon in the mail along with a stack of Polaroids: serious proof that Joshie had an amazing extended vacation at the Ritz.


There was Joshie was lounging by the pool with his cool shades, getting a massage in the spa, and even driving a golf cart on the beach.

His son was just happy to have Joshie back, but Chris and his wife were blown away. Chris told us that without a doubt, the Ritz-Carlton could count on them to be repeat customers.

That’s a pretty cool story, isn’t it?

Except there’s only one part of this story that isn’t true. I don’t actually know Chris. I’ve never met him. In fact, I have zero connection to him. It’s a HuffPost piece that came up on my Facebook newsfeed.

What is a breakout brand advocate?

Chris is not just a satisfied customer, he’s a breakout brand advocate. That is, he’s a customer who is inspired for the first time to actively share an outstanding experience with others.

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There are stats out there that say a customer who has a good experience with a company will tell at least 7 people. However, Chris’s amazing customer service experience went viral. It has been shared and retold over 15,000 times through social media and email.

That’s because stories like this stick, and when they do, they’re told and passed on almost as if they were our own. It becomes the stuff of legend.

A Zuberance report found that “brand advocates reach 150 people in social media every time they advocate for a product or service.” They also found that brand advocates are:

  • 5X more valuable than average customers
  • Spend at least 2X as much as average customers
  • Spend 3X as much as average customers over their lifetime of their relationship with a company or brand
  • Reach 150 people in social media every time they advocate for a product or service
  • 92% of consumers trust brand advocates

In other words, customer acquisition is much easier when you inspire your existing customer base to advocate your company for you.

Even just a few breakout brand advocates can be your most valuable asset – if you can manage to develop them. Why? Because a “satisfied customer” doesn’t usually feel compelled to write and share their encounter with a company. They expect to be satisfied, after all.

But you can mine your customer base for hidden eggs. Those are the golden opportunities that give your customers something to talk about.

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