Your customer base is a virtual honeypot when it comes to gaining new business. There is no better marketing than happy customers who willingly vouch for your business and suggest it to others. By directing your attention toward nurturing existing customers you’ll transform them into customer advocates who not only bolster your reputation in the community (for free!) but who also send new clients your way. Here are some easy tactics to help you build a pool of brand advocates for your business.
The seven marketing tactics below are nothing new, but executing them with the focus on advocacy is key. Read on to learn how to use these tactics in a way that generates more referrals to your business.
Polls and surveys are generally used to collect feedback from customers in order to improve service levels. However, they’re also an opportunity to groom clients into advocates. Include positive questions in polls and surveys allowing customers to choose options pertaining to what they like about your business. This tees them up to naturally form a personal “pitch” in their mind about your services.
Including questions in this manner does not mean you’re “tricking” your customers into thinking one way or another about their business or putting words into their mouths; given the power of online reviews, it’s a known fact that consumers are willing and able to provide their own honest feedback. Rather, for a happy customer, it’s less work for them. Instead of having to come up with the language itself in the comments section or open-ended questions, you can take care of a lot of the commonly liked aspects of your business for them.
Even better, the comments section can then be left for the truly memorable experiences that will help your business to stick out.
Relating to your customer on a personal level will always have a myriad of positive, trickle-down effects for your small business. As it relates to customer advocates, the more a client feels they’ve been heard, that their unique, personal requests have been attended to, the more likely they are to rave about you after the fact. Do everything in your power to make your customers feel like they and their satisfaction with your offerings and personal needs matter to you personally.
Providing outstanding customer service is the best way to generate customer advocates, but it does not always require you to run yourself into the ground with extra favors or more work. Of course, going that extra mile takes intention and effort. However, your time and energy are precious resources, especially as a small business owner, and the “work smarter, not harder” concept comes into play here. Rather than just doing more for your clients, you can also focus on being more for them. Get to know them better during your brief interactions. Address them by name, ask questions that will enhance your understanding of them as individuals. Being personal with your customers will always be more important than doing tasks for them.
Free trials help new customers to enter into the funnel and on track to becoming advocates, and help existing customers to learn about additional offerings. Once they give your supplementary services a test drive they’ll feel encouraged to continue with those services and realize the full benefits of remaining a customer. Allowing them to experience your full breadth of offerings as a sign of appreciation for their continued business will make them feel valued and willing to advocate for you down the line.
You don’t need to hand out hundred dollar bills to every tenth customer to create a loyal advocate. Implement a point system or rewards program that truly provides a benefit to your clients. You’ll be providing added value to doing business with you above and beyond everyday offerings, and demonstrating your desire to create a lasting relationship with that customer. The greater the perceived value, the greater chance they’ll refer others to you.
Make it simple to refer you! Word of mouth is ideal, but you have no way of measuring the success of your customer advocacy efforts. Create an email campaign wherein you ask customers to provide a link to friends and family to visit your shop and in return offer them a benefit for doing so. Perhaps it’s a free smoothie or an entry into a raffle? Don’t be afraid to straight up ask a loyal customer for a referral, either. It may feel a bit intimidating, but if you know they’re a return customer who is regularly satisfied with you, put the ask out!
Say something along the lines of “Hey, do you know anyone else who would be interested in my services?” The best way to get referrals is to reach out for them, openly and transparently.
Your target audience for brand advocacy goes beyond your existing customers. If you routinely offer useful information via your website, even those who have not made a purchase are in a position to refer you to people who may not have come across your business on their own. Stick to the things you know. Valuable industry information, connecting your services and solutions to real-life challenges, up to date and interesting local information…aim to make your content shareable and relevant to your customer base.
Remember, referral leads not only take a shorter time to close but also convert at a higher rate than leads from other sources, according to Influitive. The front end effort is definitely worth the return! Use these above strategies to get your happy customers on track to becoming willing and able advocates for your business.