Word of mouth is among the most powerful marketing tools out there. People are, by nature, more likely to listen to the opinions of their peers, than the advertising of the company trying to sell to them.
Defined as an oral or written recommendation by a satisfied customer to the prospective customers of a good or service, word of mouth often happens organically. But your company can always benefit from actively working to develop strong brand advocacy throughout your customer base, and turning those advocates into referrers!
Here are our top 5 steps to turning your happy customers into brand advocates!
1. Provide excellent service
The first step to developing an effective referral program through brand advocacy is providing excellent service. People love supporting brands that they have strong, meaningful relationships with, so excellent customer service is key to turning your average customer into a brand advocacy dynamo.
Customers that experience high-quality service are more likely to generate organic word of mouth—making them the perfect brand advocates.
When referring a company, they’re putting their own reputation on the line. Any kind of referral or recommendation is, on some level, personal. And thus, personally risky.
So, as a company, you have to prove that you’re worthy of your customers taking that risk. You want your customers to say “I’ve personally had the best time working with this company, I would definitely recommend you try them out. And you want them to mean it. They should trust you to provide service that is worthy of their recommendation.
2. Personalize it
Now that you’re providing high-quality service, it’s time to take it a step further and personalize it.
Trust between a company and its customers is often built on a perceived personal relationship. When customers look upon a company as a cherished resource or friend, instead of just a service they require, they’re much more enthusiastic about advocating for it.
Some of our tried-and-true strategies for personalizing service:
- Remember, and use, a customer’s name
- Jot down their birthdays and send a note
- Keep track of milestones in their lives and businesses (new office, marriages, babies, etc)
- Ensure you’re providing them with service that matches their particular need
3. Build a community
People are also more likely to advocate for your company when they feel like they’re part of a community.
For example, think of the social media management tool, Buffer. Buffer is a pretty robust social media tool that is capable of scheduling and analytics. But Buffer has successfully built a huge, active, and robust community around their service.
Now, instead of just being another social media tool, users are part of a community. There’s a certain kinship that exists between Buffer users that wouldn’t exist otherwise. And it exists because Buffer has found the sweet spot between an excellent tool, personalized service, and thought leadership. This combination has proven to be lethal to the competition, turning serious social media managers into Buffer advocates with just a small push.
4. Find advocates
Okay, now you’ve set yourself up for success. So, all your customers should become brand advocacy machines. Right?
Well, not quite. There will always be disengaged customers or those who only make a purchase (or use your service) once or twice, and others have the potential to become your brand advocates. You need to look for the customers who identify and feel some affiliation with, your product.
Next step: locating those potential advocates. Here are some strategies we recommend-
- Send out a customer survey
- Ask for feedback using a tool like Hively
- Ask your customer whether or not they’re interested in participating in a referral program
- Get to know your customers, your advocates become more obvious the more you interact with them
- Invite customers to share their experiences with you in the form of testimonials
Once you’ve found your advocates, it’s time to work with them to generate some word of mouth buzz.
5. Start generating customer-driven buzz
Your customers love you, so it’s time to get them spreading the love!
The strategy that you use to turn your happy customers into word-spreading, brand-loving advocates depends on your industry, size, and brand. Are you a small business? Realtor? Do you have personal relationships with your customers?
In general, there are two main routes you can take.
Get your customers invested in your company through a partnership, loyalty, or referral program. Formally reach out to those happy customers you’ve discovered, and asking them to perform tasks of advocacy.
You can achieve this through a structured referral program, or you can take the “discount for them, discount for you” approach. When a happy customer gets your brand a referral, everybody gets a discount, and everybody is happy.
Sometimes you don’t have the customer base or funding for a big hands-on program. But there are still ways you can turn your customers into advocates!
We would recommend-
- Asking customers for testimonials
- Encouraging them to like and share your content on social media
- Asking customers to visit your booth at tradeshows and events
We’re curious. How have you turned your happy customers into advocates for your brand? Tweet us @callruby and tell us about it!