It is often times said that your best salespeople are happy customers. They are the ones who refer people your way, share your stuff on social media and sing your praises from the rooftops.
They basically help you move new leads through customer touch points by influencing others to do business with you. Additionally, often times they tend to hang out with people who are similar to them, meaning those they refer are more likely to fit your ideal customer profile.
In this day and age, it’s not enough to just have happy customers, you need to go the extra mile and turn them into brand advocates. Granted, in letting others know about you . . . they pretty much are brand advocates, however, there are ways to help them continue to send new leads your way.
Before getting into the many ways you can turn customers into brand advocates, let’s first dive into what a brand advocate actually is.
What exactly are brand advocates?
While it may seem like “brand advocate” is just a fancy marketing term for a happy customer, it actually goes a little deeper than that.
In the world of social media, everyone has a platform. Let’s face it, if you have a Facebook profile you can influence people. So imagine when your customers have their own Facebook profiles and Twitter pages where they can promote your business—suddenly they aren’t just people who refer others to your business, they are influencers.
To give you an idea of the power of brand advocates, because I’ve built a social media following and a community of millennial entrepreneurs and finance geeks, I now have marketing companies approaching me with the opportunity to be a brand advocate and receive corporate sponsorship. Large corporations literally have budgets set aside to hire influencers who can endorse them online.
Fortunately, you don’t need to look for popular bloggers and spend thousands in marketing. Instead, you can turn your existing customers into brand advocates. Below you’ll find some of the ways in which you can do that.
1. Give personalized attention
In an age where everything is taken over by technology, giving a personal touch can go an extra long way. Don’t worry, though. Going above and beyond in this arena can be as simple as answering someone’s tweet or remembering someone’s name. You’d be surprised at how many companies don’t answer the tweets they get and simple things like that go a very long way.
For example, I recently shared an article on Twitter about how someone was able save $100,000 in 3.5 years. Someone responded by saying, “That’s great. But where is there good advice for people with kids? It’s hard for us to save.” As soon as I saw it I pointed her in the right direction.
Something that tiny leaves a great impression. When done consistently, it can turn people into brand advocates.
2. Ask for feedback
One of the best ways to turn customers into brand advocates is to give them what they want. You can do this by making sure you are communicating with them about what they need, what they want, and how you can improve your products and services.
First, this makes people feel heard. Second, this allows you as the business owner to create products, services, and experiences that people will want to buy and promote.
3. Give them incentive
Perhaps one of the most effective ways to turn customers into brand advocates is to give them an incentive to promote you. There are two main ways of doing this: Loyalty programs and referral programs.
Let’s start with loyalty programs. Does your local coffee shop give you a punch card? Do you get a free coffee once you’ve bought ten and can prove it with the card? That’s a loyalty program. It doesn’t work for all businesses, but it is something worth considering.
Referral programs are a little different. For example, I once had a coach who would offer a $75 credit toward the next purchase of a coaching package if I sent someone her way and they became a client. My orthodontist offers $100 off the bill of anyone I refer and myself. How you decide to set up your referral program depends on you, just note that they can be very effective.
The most difficult part of turning customers into brand advocates is remaining consistent. Not all of your customers will be brand advocates—either because they don’t want to or it’s just not their thing—so it’s up to you to remain consistent in giving top quality service to everyone.
When you notice that someone is extremely pleased or open to promoting you, make sure to nurture that relationship and encourage them along. Sometimes brand advocates need a little hand-holding, and it’s your job as the business owner to provide that support.