This is part 8 of a 10 part series.

Build armies of advocates – not just customers.

Do we all want friends? Of course we do. But good friends—real friends—are the ones you can call no matter what and no matter when to get you out of a jam or help you carry something heavy up stairs. That’s what you want on campaigns, and that should be what you want for your business:

For one thing, you have to admit—the idea of having your own army is kind of sexy right there. But working on political campaigns, you primarily are looking for voters. Duh—I know; but every call, every parade, every bumper sticker is meant to get more voters on your side. Lots more voters.

But what you really want are advocates. Ambassadors. Apostles. On a campaign, they make the calls, deliver the yard signs, send friend-of-friend cards, write letters to the editor.

That’s also what you want in business. Not just customers—brand advocates. People who write reviews. Blog. Snap. Post photos. Tell friends. And here’s what you can do:

Make it worth their while and encourage them to do more.

Whatever the budget allows for honest and true-to-the-brand swag or incentive, do it. Respond to them. Follow them. Laugh at their jokes if they’re funny. As you would with friends.

No stalking. No artificial BS. And no bots. No clogging their inboxes. Pay attention to what they say and take their input when offered. Or ask them for opinions. Use them as a sounding board. Recognize them.

Do what fits with what you do. An upgrade, Free shipping. A preview. A gift card. An autograph. An invitation to an event.

It doesn’t even have to be a thing. It could be an acknowledgement. A thank you.

There is northing more valuable than “friends of the movement.” They need to be cultivated as carefully as your last match in a wind storm.

The evidence in support of this is overwhelming. So are the metrics. Brand advocates are more likely to share positive experiences. That’s more likely to turn into more sales, at likely a lower acquisition cost—because it came through an unpaid sales force.

Creating and nurturing brand advocates can yield a lot of good things for your company, including a shit-ton of money.

And if you can develop an army of advocates, you have an army that cannot be defeated.