It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Andrea Gellert– Enjoy!
As marketers, our job is to create narratives that resonate with our end-users and increase our brand’s visibility. However, whenever I ask small business owners what their best channel for new customers is, they always tell me “referrals from other customers.”
The reality is that any potential customers interested in your brand will always look to validate your marketing claims with what your current and past customers say about your brand. Social media has made finding out what those thoughts and opinions are easier than ever, which is why enlisting a small army of customer advocates can easily be part of any smart marketers overall strategy. If nurtured properly, these customers become an extension of your team and help amplify all of your efforts.
While having a great product is a prerequisite to getting great customers, it doesn’t always lead to referrals. What does is creating an experience that so delights your customers that they want to tell everyone about you. By following these five foolproof methods, you will demonstrate your commitment to your customers and encourage them to talk about your brand.
1) Go over customer communications with a fine tooth comb.
Ever received an email or piece of mail from a company that was completely tone-deaf or seemed written by a computer? Or spoken to someone on the phone who seemed to be reading from a script regardless of what you said? Your customers want to be spoken to in a way that respects their time and lets them know you understand them. You can create an amazing emotional connection through your communications, so give them all the time and attention they deserve. Be human, be thoughtful, be clear and be authentic.
2) Create conversations.
Every brand these days is on social media, but what separates the so-so companies from the rock star companies is engagement. Don’t just tweet out a press release and call it a day — tweet a response to a customer who is maybe confused about your product and is looking for information. Showing you care on social media is the foundation for all of your customer advocacy efforts.
3) Put in some face time.
There is simply no substitute for face-to-face interaction with your customers. Part of your ongoing advocacy strategy should include regular in-person conversations with your end-user — whether it’s taking them out for coffee or frequenting their place of business for an informal chat. The benefits to developing a strong rapport with your advocates are exponential in terms of word-of-mouth and social media marketing, as well as potential press needs.
4) Say “Thank you” loudly and say it often.
Nothing like waking up to a positive review from one of your customers on social media! But now isn’t the time to consider it a job well-done — rather, write a public comment praising the customer for their kind words, or better yet send them a gift or note thanking them for their efforts. Small acts like this let your advocates know you appreciate them, which makes them more inclined to continue to advocate on your behalf.
5) Admit when you are wrong.
You’re going to mess up from time to time — whether it’s not getting back to a customer quickly enough or if a policy changes and you forget to let everyone know. Remember, it’s never the problem that makes customers mad, it’s how you respond to the problem. So, if you know something you did rubbed your customer the wrong way or didn’t meet their expectations, just apologize, thank them for the feedback and work to fix the situation. Demonstrating to customers that you are bending over backwards to make things right shows how much you care about them, which can go a long way to creating advocacy.
It doesn’t matter what product or service you are marketing: if you don’t have strong customer advocates your marketing efforts will always miss the mark. Starting off with a hallmark customer experience, and then doubling down in areas your advocates present themselves (think: social media) are key to creating brand advocates for your business.
How do you create customer advocates? Please weigh in with your comments.
Andrea Gellert is Senior Vice President of Marketing at OnDeck, where she brings more than 15 years of small business marketing and client service experience. Most recently, she was VP of Client Services/Operations at Group Commerce. Andrea also spent 15 years at American Express, holding key leadership positions in both the OPEN small business and Merchant Services divisions. Andrea graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and received an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern.