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How To Cause a Brand Advocate Story to Change (Part 1)

Nate Riggs
Nate Riggs / June 20, 2013

brand advocate My Instagram of our son Jacob at the Columbus Zoo

As a family, we've had a membership to the Columbus Zoo for about three years now. I'm not really a big fan of Zoo's in general, but I know the boys and Sarah love making the trips to see Jack's animals year round.

In fact, I feel like Sarah might just love those Columbus Zoo visits more than the kids. It's a nice way to keep our boys occupied, educated and at a very reasonable cost.

As parents, we're a bit ahead of our groups of friends in terms of starting a family. And, being in blended situation, we have a variety of subgroups of friends from her side and mine.

These days, most of our group has hit the stage where they now have little ones running around too. Our friends' kids range in age between 1-3 years old, so they are definitely at the age where entertainment and learning are hourly necessities.

Sarah has been waiting a long time for this.

There is a growing group of her friends who've opted to leave the workforce for a few years while they take on the title of Chief Family Officer.

With that, she's become a pretty gifted recruiter for the Columbus Zoo, enticing more than a few of these new moms to sign up for annual memberships. Why does she do it? So that they can all spend social time on adventures to see the lions, tigers and bears. (oh my!)

Her approach is simple. She'll start by sharing a story about trips she's made with our kids and at times, other friends from her book club. At some point during the story, she usually convinces her friend to pack up her own kids so they can make a visit together. It's usually not long after that her target friend ends up buying a membership for her own family.

For Sarah, being a brand advocate for the Columbus Zoo is one of those win-win situations. She gets a new Zoo-mate mom to spend time with and her friend gets a new activity option for her family.

What's interesting is that with each friend she recruits, her brand advocate story grows one chapter stronger. In turn, each new member she brings in becomes an opportunity for the Zoo to build another advocate.

Hidden Lessons in the Transcript

I could tell Sarah was hurt yesterday afternoon when we talked in the kitchen.

We had moved on May 1st, and had forgotten to place a mail-forward at the post office to our new address in Bexley. Realizing this a few weeks later, Sarah quickly made all the arrangements to get the mail we had missed delivered to our new place.

When we received the pile of letters, she noticed that we had missed a two from the Columbus Zoo that detailed an online membership promotion where existing members could get two free months added on to their membership renewal. It wasn't much, but with 3 boys who always seem to be hungry, we try to be a thrifty family at every turn.

Like a lot of thrifty mom's, Sarah's also the type to at least give it a shot and call in to try and see if we could save a few dollars.

The short conversation went like this:

Sarah: "Hi, my zoo membership is up for renewal and I received two notifications from you about renewing. They said that if I do it by May 31st, I can get two months free. I know I'm a few weeks over, but we were moving in mid-May and missed the notifications. We've been members for a few years ... is there any way you can help me signup to still get the promotion?"

Zoo Rep: "I'm sorry that promotion has ended there's nothing we can do about that."

Sarah: "What if I signup online and then I just call the zoo back? Is there any way you can manually add the two months?

Zoo Rep: "That promotion is run by another company, there is nothing the zoo can do about it."

Sarah: "So, even though we've been fully paid members for a few years, you're telling me there is nothing that you can do at all?

Zoo Rep: "Sorry, there is nothing we can do."

Sarah: "Ok, well ... thanks for being helpful."

Zoo Rep: "You're welcome, good bye."


Tomorrow: How To Cause a Brand Advocate Story to Change (Part 2)

When I first finished this post in it's entirety, it was more than 1600 words. Whoa! There's a lot there from one very short phone conversation and your in the middle of a busy day.

Come back tomorrow when I continue rest of the story. Here's what you can expect:

  1. How Sarah's story-telling as a brand advocate has changed from her experience with the Columbus Zoo rep.
  2. 3 mistakes that we can pull from the transcript of the conversation
  3. Tips, resources and helpful advice that help you and your team avoid making the same mistakes.

See you tomorrow?