Are your customers sufficiently excited about how you continue to help them that they rave about your firm? “Globally we spend about $500 billion on marketing and $9 billion on customer service,” wrote Forrester’s Laura Ramos, citing marketing and customer retention expert, Jay Baer. As an astute advocate for turning customers into advocates, she added, “What if we spent more of that $500 billion on better experiences that made customer lives better? Wouldn’t that approach take a big chunk out of the $9 billion that ends up as pure cost to our firms?”
Even if you are not directly involved in marketing, sales or customer service in your company, it behooves you to discover the role you can play in delighting customers so much they turn into fans. That’s because, according to the lively, idea-packed Advocamp conference I attended, many of the most successful approaches to turning customers into advocates are a holistic part of a company’s strategy. In a pull world where pushing your message at prospects is not nearly as credible or effective as pulling them in via customers’ testimonials and other actions.
Enable Your Customers To Further Differentiate Themselves From Competition
“Recently, we’ve teamed up with Oral-B to integrate rewards into their SmartSeries connected toothbrushes,“ reported Brian Wong, co-founder of mobile apps reward platform firm kiip. “The kiip rewards become a beneficial surprise and delight as they are triggered by the user’s brushing habits, location, and time. By enabling Oral-B to reward their customers in an immediate, unique way that supports their customers’ good intentions to use their connected toothbrush to regularly we are able to boost Oral-B’s opportunity to turn their customers into advocates. In so doing Oral-B become a credible advocate for using our Kiip services. Plus we’ve again proven that rewards are more effective when they’re serendipitous and relevant to each user’s lifestyle.”
Keep Showing Your Customers Your Apt, Authentic Appreciation
“Explicit monetary rewards don’t motivate advocates,” according to research cited by that Forrester analyst Laura Ramos. “Every program we studied included financial or nonfinancial rewards, yet reported redemption rates were low, ranging from 9% (more typical) to 24%. Celebrating advocates’ achievements from simple recognition, like badges, to special award ceremonies at conferences generates more consistent, and tenured, participation.” Also she suggests that, “Showing appreciation and saying ‘thank you’ are the simplest and best ways to keep advocates engaged. Reflecting one way to visibly show appreciation Ramos cites nonprofit software provider Blackbaud’s Amy Bills who says: “Having a platform let us grow our advocates and maintain the personal relationship — to say ‘we’re thinking of you’ at scale.”
Make Your Customers Positively Visible In Ways That Matter To Them
“Many programs intended to turn customers into advocates fail,” says sales analytics company InsightSquared Marketing VP, Joe Chernov. “Often it is because marketers are so preoccupied with advancing their company’s interest that they stripmine the goodwill of even their best customers though persistently one-sided requests. Good advocacy programs are like an A-frame house — each wall supports the weight of the other. Alternatively, once we have developed relationships with customers we know what’s most important to them, such career development or co-marketing. Then we’re able to create mutually beneficial opportunities that naturally turn them into advocates of our firm. For example one of our InsightSquared power users wants to grow his personal brand, yet is uncomfortable with public speaking, thus we didn’t offer him the chance to appear at one of our events. Instead, we cite his relevant insights in a case study and a press release.”
Hint: How can you demonstrate that you are supporting your customers in the ways they most value? Apply The GoldenGolden Rule – do unto others as they would have done unto them.
Customer Referrals Are Ultimate Proof Of Your Advocacy Program
One way to enable customer referrals is by hosting an online customer advocate community – or what Influitive calls an Advocate Hub where customers gain valuable visibility, and some become super fans as they cite why they like your organization.
Hint: You are more likely to get your company to launch one when you can cite another organization’s “boost in revenue from customer referrals,” notes diginomica’s Jon Reed.
Involve Complementary Experts In Educating Your Clients And Prospects
To provide relevant insights to their market of HR professionals, Halogen Software, invited the writer of “one of the Top 5 blogs read by HR professionals,” Sharlyn Lauby, to co-present a free webinar with Halogen product marketing manager Julie Harrison. Collectively the two presenters can offer more value and gain more visibility in front of prospects and customers that matters to them both – and for Halogen. Plus Lauby benefits from inviting her extensive network to watch it, thus increasing event participation – and Halogen’s credibility, visibility and possibility of attracting new customers.
• When your apt employee co-presents relevant, actionable tips with a complementary, outside expert:
– Your firm can provide more multi-faceted insights, in-depth insights and example — and reach and serve more prospects and customers
– Co-presenters can cross-reference each other’s expertise in ways that boost the credibility of both.
• Multiply the ways that customers can access helpful tips from your firm – and are spurred to become your advocates in how they share those insights with others:
– Live online, and available anytime online or via mobile means
– Via video, audio and/or text
– “Chunk up” the insights you offer into short “bites”, with pithy titles so that more people choose to absorb one chunk and are intrigued enough to want more. At the end of each “chunk” add something like “Ready for More?” followed by bulleted titles of three related tips.
• After your organization goes to all that effort to educate your key audience, go the last mile of generating mutual benefit to turn them into articulate fans: provide easy ways for those who liked what they learned to say so – and boost their reputation in doing so.