Turning Customers into Brand Ambassadors
The core of successful word-of-mouth marketing is turning customers into brand ambassadors–after all, your customers are your biggest asset and it’s what will build your business. Many would say it’s the core of a successful business, period. Why? They can do more to build your business, and your reputation, than any kind of traditional advertising. The catch is that this seldom happens by chance. Although there are lots of ways to prod this along, here are the three basics everyone should master.
1. Create raving fans
First and foremost, give your customers great products and legendary service. You can’t expect anyone to rave about your business unless he or she is more than satisfied. That means offering top-quality services or products, and then making sure your staff provides stellar customer service. When individuals and companies spend their hard-earned money with you, they want to feel that every penny has been well spent.
2. Tell ‘em what you do – all of it
Sure, you and your whole staff know exactly what your business offers. But do all of your customers know it? If not, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Get the word out – consistently and often – about what you do and what you have to offer. Part of this will be your core branding message – who and what your company is – and part of it will be ongoing variable messages about particular products and services.
Think of that ongoing message as a conversation, and you’ll find ways to connect that are meaningful to your clientele. For example:
• Send emails (to your opt-in list) with coupons, discounts, or special offers.
• Create a newsletter or start a blog
• Launch a VIP club for your customers, and send out special offers to keep them coming back
• Use Twitter and Facebook to build a community of followers and fans
Throughout it all, be sure to use your branding message – telling what you do and what sets you apart – along with specifics on your products and services.
3. Encourage referrals with incentives.
We all hope our customers will love us and tell everyone how great we are.The reality is that your clients’ lives are just as busy as yours. That’s where incentives come in.
Offer your customers something valuable, however small, for taking the time and energy to promote your business. Ask for referrals – encourage your customers to refer you to their friends, family, and associates – but also remember that a little incentive helps people step out of their busy lives to take action. Here are some real life examples:
• A specialty advertising company sends referring customers mugs imprinted with their logo
• An automobile dealer puts his customers’ names in a drawing for a cruise each time they provide a referral who comes in for a test drive
• A restaurant gives out referral cards to customers to give to their friends; when the friends present a card, they get a free appetizer, and the referring customer gets one of the restaurant’s much-coveted t-shirts
• An accountant send a handwritten thank-you note
The important thing is to be creative and to give something that shows you value what they’ve done. Thank your customers for spreading the word, and they’ll be much more likely to keep on doing it.
So, the takeaway is:
1. Build a loyal fan base
2. Make sure everyone understands exactly what you do
3. Encourage referrals with incentives and rewards
If you focus on these basics, you’ll see more and more of your customers actively building sales for your business.