You already know how valuable word of mouth is. You understand that real people telling other real people what they really think has the potential to make or break a business.
You want to generate the sort of buzz that gets you more customers and keeps them coming back. And you want to be able to rely on that sort of organic positive messaging as a key plank of your marketing, rather than have the occasional good review.
In other words, you want to cultivate brand advocates, loyal customers who are so upbeat about your business that they want to shout it from the rooftops.
Which raises a bunch of questions, such as: Where do you find potential brand advocates? How do you encourage them? Should you manage their messaging? Do you reward them?
We’ve broken it down into these 12 simple tips that any business can implement.
- Awareness: You can’t be shy. You have to let people know not only that you exist – a pretty basic starting point neglected by some – but also that doing business with you is worthwhile, and that the quality of their experience is important to you.
- Ease: Give people as many simple ways to provide feedback, reviews, or testimonials as you can. Make sure your website has clear links to your existing Google and Facebook reviews and prompts for people to leave their own reviews.
- Education: Make sure that you clearly articulate not only what you do, but who you are and what you stand for, so that anyone who wants to know all about you can easily find that information. Clear, concise messaging is also easier for others to share and/or adapt.
- Encouragement: Let customers know that you want to hear from them, and how much you appreciate any feedback or reviews.
- Engagement: A one-sided ‘conversation’ will soon peter out, so make sure that you create and nurture information channels and respond to comments and reviews.
- Exclusivity: Offering previews, sneak peeks, and exclusive access sends the message that you value the opinion and involvement of your best customers.
- Exemplification: You can’t expect others to do something for you that you won’t do for yourself. Show the way. Share your personality and at least some of the inner workings that make your business unique and authentic. As well as being shareable, this sort of engagement builds connection and trust.
- Flexibility: Don’t decide how you want your brand to be advocated and try to enforce something that might not suit everyone. Let the most effective way(s) for your business to be spruiked evolve organically, driven by the actual perspective or real customers.
- Identification: Finding brand advocates shouldn’t be hard. You already have family members, friends, employees, and customers who want to see you do well. Start with those people, who are not only accessible but already within your inner circle.
- Invitation: If you find someone else who loves what you do, what you sell, or how you operate – whether they’re physically in your shop or virtually enthusiastic online – invite them to be a part of your inner circle. Let them feel invested in (and partly responsible for) your success.
- Reward: Just as you reward customer loyalty, so you can reward brand advocacy. If someone has told the world how great you are and that they should all come and do business with you, that’s really worth something. Give them a decent reward (just don’t offer something in advance as an incentive, as that encourages inauthenticity).
- Transparency: Be open, authentic, and consistent in your messaging and actions. People are more inclined to align with an honest, relatable business. The more that your customers feel they know you, the more likely they’ll want to see you succeed.
Don’t force things
One more tip: someone who feels pushed, pressured, or coerced into talking about you will not be a long-term asset. In fact, it’s possible that they’ll be turned against you if they feel disrespected.
So, gentle and positive encouragement is the way to go. If you approach people the right way, letting them know that you’d appreciate their endorsement because you recognise the value that would provide, they’ll feel valued themselves.
In the end, if you treat every customer as if they’re a partner in the success of your business, some will take that relationship to the next level and become brand advocates.
Discover how to give your customers a truly rewarding experience they’ll want to tell everyone about at https://bit.ly/3wUF2JW.