What Is Our Advocacy Threshold?

by Jason Falls |

Chatting with Chris Baggott is always enlightening. He not only co-founded Exact Target, one of the leading email marketing solution providers on the market, but then moved on to start Compendium Blogware, an enterprise-level blogging solution I’ve grown to know well as a consultant for them. Point being, Chris is really smart and brings an analytical and logical perspective to the table the social media purists hate because A) His perspective is founded in driving business, not holding hands and celebrating our engagementdom and B) He’s right and they know it.

Friday, Chris and I were in a room full of Compendium folks doing what we do when we get together and a couple of his little analytical nuggets surfaced that caught my attention. He said from his experience in email marketing there emerged a threshold of how many corporate e-newsletters a person would subscribe to and read or interact with regularly. He said that number was about 11. It’s more for some, less for others, but the average was around 11.

Photo by Senai Aksoy on Shutterstock.comI currently (and intentionally) subscribe to about 12 that I will open and browse through, so that number rings true for me. I don’t read every one with baited breath, but I make sure to scan them for good nuggets. I’m sure another two or three dozen are sent to me that I didn’t opt-in to receive. Those I ignore or take the time to opt out of.

The email threshold made me wonder if we have a similar threshold for brands we have affinities for. And I don’t just mean how many we would “like” on Facebook. (I currently “like” 121 things there, I think.) I mean how many brands or companies can one person be so loyal to and passionate about that they proactively recommend, promote and follow/engage with that brand regularly?

(Proactive is intentionally said. It’s different that reactive advocacy. For example, if you ask me about Graco kids products, I’d swear by them, confirm I own strollers, high chairs, play pens and more, but wouldn’t actively think to recommend them to someone.)

Certainly, this is a question better suited for a market research team, but it’s an interesting discussion to have. I actively recommend and promote Maker’s Mark and Elijah Craig bourbons. (And I no longer work with Maker’s Mark, so it’s not a client thing.) I will proactively tell people about my Volkswagen Jetta TDI Diesel, the Sony products in my house and my variety of Apple products. Beyond that, you’d have to ask me what I think about a specific product for me to opine.

Is there a threshold for a person’s affinity?

I’d venture to guess there is, but that it probably varies by person. Sports fans normally have a passion for one primary team. Sure, they’re fans of others, but one team in one sport is normally their weakness. With only anecdotal evidence to back up my thoughts, I’d bet the real passionistas for brands have a threshold of one. Yeah, they like others, but they’re passionate about one. Still others, like me, may love three or four brands like they love their alma maters or employers. Then there are brand freaks who get off on recommending products or being the go-to resource for their friends on all things shopping. Those of them who aren’t working for QVC or ad agencies are probably big on 10-15 companies or products.

In my estimation, if anyone is a passionate, brand advocate about more than that, they’re nuts. Or at least annoying to be around.

But that’s just my guess. What do you think? Do we have a limit on how many companies, brands or products we can love? And what, if anything, does that tell marketers about their focus?

As always, the comments are yours.

IMAGE: Senai Aksoy on Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).