How would you like to have a customer who acts like a member of your marketing team?
They are 2 times as likely to tell others about your company.
They are 3 times as likely to talk to people they don’t even know about your company.
These customers are called brand advocates and they can be worth their weight in gold for business owners if you can cultivate them.
It is common knowledge that word-of-mouth marketing (especially online) is one of the most powerful sources of validation your business can receive. Advocates are the powerful forces behind word-of-mouth marketing for your company, because when they pass on recommendations, they get powerful results.
Why? It is because 9 out of 10 consumers trust information coming from their friends or family.
There is no denying that we live in an increasingly connected world. Smartphones, tablets and other “shiny new objects” keep us in constant communication through mobile text messaging, social media networks, popular online business review or savings sites, and powerful access to the internet.
This means that brand advocates who harness this power are even more influential today than they once were, and are more willing to keep people informed about how they live their daily lives.
I know what you’re thinking. This all makes sense, but where can I find brand advocates?
It all starts with you.
Provide a great product, outstanding customer service, and make relationship building a part of your company culture. Advocates value establishing a relationship with businesses, and are more likely to share about products or services to which they feel an emotional tie. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, simply provide a personal touch in the store, a prompt response to a tweet, gratitude for a positive online review, or a careful response to a negative online review.
Make it easy for advocates to spread the word.
Have a presence on social media and regularly post things like relevant and interesting business information, entertaining stories or local news. Have in-store marketing materials and place them in easy to see locations so a passerby can grab one on the way out, whether it’s a “thanks for dropping by” coupon or a business card with your QR code, make it easy.
Recognize their hard work. Treat your advocates like you want to be treated by letting them know you appreciate their kind words and the time they take to pass on your message. “Thank You” goes a long way and catches the eye of those researching online.
Once you have brand advocates, don’t take them for granted.
Most people simply appreciate being recognized for their commitment. Here are a few ways to show loyal customers what they mean to your company:
- Ask their opinion. People love to give advice and to know their opinion is valued. Let them know you value their input by asking their opinion on something related to your business. For example: are you thinking about branching out your product line? Ask them what they like best about it and if there is anything they’d change. When you make your updates, they’ll feel they were heard.
- Make a donation. Looking to give back to the community? Donate your time or funds to a local non-profit and let your loyal customers and brand advocates know you did it in honor of them. Show them that their support was the inspiration for your business giving back to the community.
- Honor them. Showcase your advocates on your website or social media profiles. Try a weekly or monthly feature. Your “Customer of the Month” will certainly feel important and be likely to let others know about the recognition.
- Give them early access. Have an email group or list of “regulars”? Let them have the ability to get their hands on a new product early. You can also let them have sneak peeks of upcoming products then ask for their feedback.
Brand advocates can be an extension of your marketing team but an advocacy program is a real commitment as well, so it has to be well thought out and consistent.
Do you have brand advocates? What is your favorite thing to do to thank them