Customers want to share their success. Create a way for them to be the star.
Marketing should not be about campaigns; it should be about relationships.
Advocate marketing is like getting a customer referral on steroids. The idea is that the customer doesn’t just give you a name, but talks about your service, promotes you and your company and helps tell your story in a more meaningful way.
Why you need advocates
When others talk about you, it is much more powerful than when you talk about yourself. The single most powerful way to sell your product or service is to create an army of advocates.
All advocates start as engaged customers. They have been trained properly and love using your product. When they are engaged they stay longer, they pay more and they use their social influence to sell the product for you. This is what an advocate does.
Social proof is the evidence that what you say is true. When a customer becomes an advocate, they let people know that what your company said is true, that what you do really does provide outstanding results because the customer experienced them and then talks about them.
Advocate marketing is about positive relationships of trust that are developed to maturity. Relationships of trust are driven by consistent positive actions. The more positive interactions we have, the better the relationships will be.
It is not about referrals
Typical word of mouth and referral programs have two major drawbacks: they are not easy to replicate and the customer doesn’t really get to be the star of the show, limiting their desire to help.
Focused and targeted customer advocacy programs can solve these two issues. By creating a sustainable model for feedback and sharing while making sure the light is shining on the customers, companies who are truly connected with their customers can find that customer advocacy can solve many of their marketing struggles.
In order for customer advocacy to work, it needs to be team effort. Ideally, your marketing and sales teams are already on the journey to becoming one organization; but if not, the marketing, sales and customer success divisions must be very unified in coordinating a successful advocacy initiative.
Getting it done
Once you have done an amazing job serving the client, developing customer advocates is a three step process:
1. Build relationships of trust
Be consistent in your actions. Solve every problem. Keep open lines of communication. Do not hide things from your clients. Show them you trust them and they will trust you back.
2. Remind each customer of that relationship
People love to feel good. Good memories bring good feelings. By reminding people of positive experiences, we help them remember those emotions. Emotions are powerful and can be contagious. When you remind someone, don’t do it in boastful way. The journey was traveled together, so take them down that journey with you. Memory lane is wide enough for everyone.
3. Help them share their experiences
Give them an outlet. Help them tell their story. Let them write a blog. Create a video. Ask them questions. Give them rewards for sharing. Help them help others by giving them tools. Make it fun, make it easy to remember and make it easy to do.
Bringing it all together
Engaged customers are your strongest sales force. There are hundreds of different ways to run a customer advocacy program. A true program is not just a one-time thing. It is ongoing. It is something that customers want to be a part of.
The key is to make sure you remember the principles. They must have a trusting relationship built on successful outcomes. They must remember the positive experiences. And finally, they must have a way to share.
If an engaged customer is encouraged and enabled, they will do all your selling for you. Help them find their voice.
Originally published on business.com