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5 Ways to Gain Brand Ambassadors (And Keep Them)

160929d“Brand ambassadors” seems like a relatively new term; however, they’ve been around as long as advertising and marketing itself (and even long before that). Knowingly or not, you’ve probably acted as a brand ambassador yourself when you recommended a product to a friend or was writing a glowing review for a local business.

More often than not, social media celebrities and bloggers come to mind when the term is used. However, the foremost important way to build brand ambassadorship is through brand loyalty of regular users. While they might not have a huge following, their words are probably more valuable to their closest circles.

Research shows that people tend to believe other people and review websites more than advertising copy on a company’s website. According to Nielsen (http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2012/consumer-trust-in-online-social-and-mobile-advertising-grows.html), 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted source of brand information and messaging with 70 percent trust level. It follows that brand ambassadors add one more channel to your marketing strategy as well as a new dimension to it: personality.

Brand ambassadors often encompass the target market, their aspirations and needs. So, spend some time identifying your brand ambassadors and nurture relationships with them.

Listen to conversations

If you haven’t started already, start listening to conversations happening around your brand online. One of the most obvious ways to do it is to read the comments below your social posts. Yet, with modern online listening technology, the possibilities are endless.

There are quite a few free and paid services you could use to tune in into conversations regarding your company. Viralheat is a great social media listening tool that provides in-depth analytics for mentions of your brand name, products, location, and competition. Mention offers a website app, Chrome app, as well as iOS and Android apps, so you can constantly monitor conversation happening about your brand online. Social Mention might be the most user-friendly option for beginners because it doesn’t require registration and presents information in a single information stream. Using Hootsuite, you can set up a stream that will aggregate all of the conversations about your brand even if they don’t tag you in it. For example, they may use a hashtag instead of @ symbol or not use your full brand name. They also might not use any hashtags whatsoever and just say “Mike’s Subs in downtown rocks!” If you set up a stream with search query “Mike’s Subs” and specify the location to match your city, you will get all of these tweets.

Now, if you get consistently negative sentiment regarding the same areas of your business (say customer service, long wait time, overall quality, etc.), that means you have to take care of these issues before you can start earning brand ambassadors.

However, if these reviews or comments are occasional and scattered, take them with a grain of salt; treat these as an individual case, not as a sign that your whole business model needs to be changed.

Look for the most engaged followers

It’s more difficult to achieve with business pages that have a large following, yet try to outline a few people who you notice on your social channels the most. I’m not talking about just likes here, your super fans are more engaged – they comment and share your posts frequently. Those are your raving fans because they show dedication and a true following of your brand. They might be already acting as brand ambassadors for you in their circles. If you reach out to them to act as your online brand ambassadors officially, they will be super happy to help you out because they will feel even more appreciated.

Watch out for bloggers

Blogger outreach is another great strategy to gain more “experienced” or “heavyweight” brand ambassadors. Do your research and find most influential and interesting bloggers in your niche; see if it makes sense to work with these bloggers. Try to go as targeted as you can. Sometimes it is better to work with bloggers who have a smaller following, but are considered a true guru in their respective niche. If you sell wine and they blog about all kinds of alcoholic drinks, your turn to shine might not happen often. Instead, focus on wine bloggers who might shine a true spotlight on your products. Besides, wine bloggers’ audience is specifically interested in wine, whereas more broad bloggers have a much more varied audience that might not necessarily be interested in your type of product.

Quality over quantity approach is very important with this strategy. Sure you can buy ads on pretty much any website, or you could find great affiliate networks that will promote your products day and night. However, if these affiliates, bloggers or other publishers didn’t build the trust with their respective audiences, your efforts will go to waste. Another thing you should examine is how many products they promote and whether they promote industry competitors. Try to find authentic publishers who have built their credibility and trust; this will warm up their audiences to your pitch as well.

Another thing to take into consideration is what type of reimbursement these bloggers work for. Some might accept product reimbursements; other bloggers only accept monetary reimbursements (and some of those are pretty hefty and specific). If a blogger already mentioned your product on their blog because they liked it (I often share links to online tools I use and like), then approaching them might be very easy and reimbursements for their mentions might be minimal.

Sometimes you just need to hire a few brand ambassadors to get the ball rolling. It’s ok. This way, you will have a full control of what gets said, where it is shared and when some information should come down. Besides, you will have professional relations with these people, so you can edit their writing before it gets published. There will be no hurt feelings either once you decide to part ways.

Look internally

Sometimes your best brand ambassadors are your own employees. A lot of times, employees use company’s products already. All you need to do here is to identify employees who a) truly love the company and/or the product and b) write well. These employees can write occasional interviews and blog posts clearly disclosing that they are employed with a company; otherwise, you might run into trouble later.

When you identify and work with brand ambassadors, make sure to show your appreciation of their efforts. Especially if these people are regular people loving your products and telling your friends about it, be personable and human. Whatever approach you choose, make sure that selected brand ambassadors:

  1. Make sense for you industry-wise;
  2. Have built up credibility and following;
  3. Provide value to their audiences by promoting your products (otherwise no one will care for your offering even if it’s amazing).

What do you think? Do you think brand ambassadors play an important role in your marketing strategy? What approaches and tactics do you use to manage relationships with existing brand ambassadors and nurture new ones? Share in the comments section below.
IMG_2939-small-1024x683Lesya Liu is a blogger at The Social Media Current, a photographer and a social media expert. Her passion lies in art and marketing (and combining the two). You can find her latest tactics advice here.

5 7 Activities That Don’t Scale but Will Win You Customers

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Photo Credit:www.launchsolid.com

Starting a business is hard work and early on you will need to hustle to find your first customers. There is no need to stress right away about what marketing channels will scale because you won’t know which options work best. And even when you do find out what will scale, it’s often the activities that don’t scale that will continue to provide the best ROI.

1. Attend an Industry Conference

For example, if your business is building websites for construction companies, you need to find out the most popular conferences. A quick Google search shows these conferences would be a good bet to attend: Construction Super Conference or the International Conference on Transportation. For your first few conferences, going as an attendee is recommended so you can scope them out and determine if it makes sense for you to come back as a vendor (and possibly rent a booth). Spend time walking the aisles, and I love hanging out by the lunch area, if you sit down at the right table and strike up a good conversation you can make a critical connection.

2. Organize a Q&A with Industry Experts

Create a list of 6-10 questions and reach out to industry experts to see if they want to participate. Package up the responses in a PDF, include bios and photos and make sure to give everyone a copy. Blog about the responses and encourage participants to get the word out. Since you are appealing to the vanity of the experts, it’s very easy to drum up interest, don’t be afraid to ask!

3. Sponsor Relevant Meetup Events

Meetup events all over the world are going on and they are often just a handful of people. If you target relevant Meetup groups and offer to sponsor their next event, you will find a lot of takers. Sometimes money to buy pizza is all you need to do and the organizer will add a special offer on their Meetup page and if you’re lucky and/or persuasive they will announce it at the event.

4. Solicit Individual and Personalized Feedback on Your Product or Service

Early on it’s a struggle to get even 5 or 10 people on board as customers. When you do get the first few customers reach out to each one of them with a personal email and thank them for trying you out. Ask for pointed feedback and if you can get them to spare 10 to 15 minutes on the phone that is fantastic as they will provide helpful insight about your product.

5. Attend Local Meetings/Events

Leverage your hometown or nearest big city to attend marketing groups and meetings. Chamber of Commerce meetings or local business groups are a great place to start. It’s not that you will necessarily find your ideal customer in your backyard, but once you start talking about your new company, your networking may uncover other opportunities. In addition, the people you meet may know other people that will help propel your business forward.

6. Target Tangentially Related Companies for Joint Marketing Efforts

If you own a stock photo site, it would make sense to contact web development companies as they often need stock photos when they are creating new websites. You could create a co-branded landing page that provides a discount to the web development companies if they want to have access to a special offer on your site. You could send their special offer to your email list (and vice versa) if you want to do additional joint marketing.

7. Create Handwritten Letters as a Relationship Builder

The old school approach can win you big points. If you take time to customize handwritten letter like this example here, you have a great shot at making a beneficial introduction. Do your homework and understand what the person likes and dislikes before writing the letter and make sure to send it to their place of business.

11.16 headshotChad Fisher is a co-founder of Content Runner, a marketplace for connecting users and freelance writers for the creation of unique written content. Friends of Duct Tape Marketing can create a free account and receive a $30 credit to try out the writers on Content Runner, click here to learn more!

2 How Recommendation And Remarketing Tools Can Boost Your Sales

Up until fairly recently eCommerce recommendations and remarketing were only possible for large eCommerce sites. However, the emergence of recommendation and remarketing tools and service providers over the last two years have made these sales boosting benefits accessible to even small businesses and marketers.

In this article we will look at what recommendations and remarketing are within the field of eCommerce, before looking at how they can benefit your business and boost your sales.

What Recommendations & Remarketing Mean

Recommendations have long been a core component of Amazon’s website, with up to 70% of Amazon’s home page dedicated to recommendations.  There are three primary types of recommendations:

  • Generic: These recommendations are seldom influenced by your past browsing and shopping history, and often show what other customers are currently looking at, or what the top-sellers are in general, or by category.
  • Complementary: These recommendations are directly influenced by your current and past behavior on an eCommerce site, and will be made up of items that complement or enhance the items you are currently looking at.
  • Alternatives: These recommendations are alternatives to what you are currently looking at, or what is already in your cart. Alternative recommendations can be used to either upsell or to retain a customer where the product they were originally interested in is out-of-stock.

Remarketing is primarily about having your online ads displayed to users who have previously visited your site, as they browse other websites. However, remarketing can also be used in tandem to recommendations by showing visitors to your site products they have viewed on other sites, and even items that are relevant to their current geographical location.

Both recommendations and remarketing rely on you having a substantial amount of data regarding your customer’s behavior and history, and the arrival of recommendation and remarketing tools and service providers gives small businesses access to this, along with access to 3rd-party data that enhances what they have already collected.

https://asset1.basecamp.com/2764596/projects/7264400/attachments/183337863/how-digital-connects-shoppers-to-stores_02.jpg

Photo Credit Think with Google

Using Recommendations to Increase Average Basket Size

Careful implementation of complementary, and even generic recommendations, can lead to an increase in your average basket size, with a McKinsey case study showing that cross-selling techniques can increase sales by 20%. The focus should be on items that enhance what the customer is looking at; for example, if the customer is looking at a shirt, complementary recommendations would be pants, shoes and even socks that create a complete outfit.  However, there shouldn’t be too many recommendations or you risk losing the customer. Generic recommendations in this context can encourage customers to explore your site more, possibly finding items they want, but weren’t actively looking for.

 

https://asset1.basecamp.com/2764596/projects/7264400/attachments/183337862/how-digital-connects-shoppers-to-stores_01.jpg

Photo Credit Think with Google

Using Recommendations to Increase Conversions

Countless sales are lost each day when the item the customer is looking for is out-of-stock; but alternative recommendations can help you. Whenever an item is out-of-stock, ensure that you display at least three alternatives, using a good, better, best approach. Caution must be taken when setting up your alternatives since they should closely match the original; if the customer was looking for a light switch, don’t offer them a new lampshade as an alternative.

 

https://asset1.basecamp.com/2764596/projects/7264400/attachments/183337864/Infosys-Consumer-Attitudes-to-Personalized-Shopping-Experiences-Jan2014.jpg

Photo Credit InfoSys

Using Recommendations to Improve Customer Loyalty

Personalization plays a critical role in fostering customer loyalty for online stores, and personalizing some of your generic recommendations is one way to start. Generic recommendations are shown when you don’t know what the customer is actually looking for, but once you have some history on a customer’s past behavior you can, in addition to the standard generic recommendations, show a list of items they bought recently, or buy frequently. This is particularly appropriate for FMCG and other items customers need to buy regularly.

Amazon’s recommendations are said to generate up to 30% in additional revenue for the company, and while they have been doing this for quite a few years, any online business, big or small, can realize a boost in sales through the proper implementation of their own recommendation and remarketing strategy. The only requirement is that you start now.

 

pm3Przemyslaw Mankowski as a CEO of QuarticON concentrates on company’s further expansion on the market, lead International business strategy and develops business partnerships in CEE and worldwide. He has been working in New Tech industry for several years. Prior to joining QuarticON.com, he was Sales Director in Agora and Member of the Board in Trader.com (Poland). He was also CEO at Passus and NextWeb Media.

Building Relationships with your Leads

You’ve invested time and energy in social media, content marketing, you’ve created a call to action that’s been generating leads, and your email list of contacts is growing. Now how do you generate sales from your current leads and expand your reach to attract new leads?

Let’s take a look at two effective techniques –influencer marketing and customer emails – and how they can help you build relationships with your leads.

Influencer marketing

Using key influencers to promote your brand to a wider market, should be an important part of your overall marketing strategy. Today’s key influencers are often bloggers, and building relationships with bloggers, within your niche, can be more valuable than money spent on traditional advertising channels. According to a recent survey, 81% of consumers say they trust advice from their favourite bloggers while only 33% trust ads.

Word-of-mouth marketing is very relevant and when word gets spread by industry influencers, there’s more potential for capturing the attention of new users and increasing your reputation.

Build a strategy around influencers

Most brands today understand the importance of content marketing, and 77% of marketers use blogging to increase brand influence. Once you’ve invested time and effort into your own blog, how do you spread your reach by connecting with other bloggers?

Software such as GroupHigh can help you identify focus areas for your target audience and find bloggers and social media influencers who will be relevant to your message. Once you’ve identified them, determine how to collaborate to the best effect. Building a successful campaign involves:

  • Identifying your goals and understanding what you want to accomplish can help you decide on whom you want to work with and what approach you’ll take.
  • Get creative. Everyone likes a good product review, but more than their attention, you want to get them involved. Sponsor giveaways for ‘best comments’ or solicit user-generated content and feature the ‘best of’ on your site.
  • Provide high-quality images and suggest creative visuals that bloggers can use for their Instagram stream.
  • Create share-worthy messages. Target a devoted niche and focus on content quality rather than traffic analytics.
  • Research your competitors. Take the time to really analyse their successes.  What does a successful campaign look like?  Don’t be afraid to borrow ideas from outside of your industry either.

Realistic Expectations

It’s important to understand that blogging is a business too. Cooperation from bloggers isn’t always free, especially the high-level influencers. When you weigh the benefits, though, blogger influence often justifies the costs. Spending on influencer marketing might be an eventuality- as part of your overall social media marketing costs.

Connect with local bloggers (i.e. newspaper sites and community leaders.) This is valuable publicity, for free! Request backlinks to your site to drive traffic and boost SEO ratings. If you don’t earn a link, that’s OK, you still gained recognition and a boost to your reputation.

Craft Smart Correspondence

The other tactic for building relationships is connecting with customers through email marketing. Email lets you communicate your brand message in personalized format while providing leads the opportunity to click through and purchase.

Segment your email list. If you’re tracking analytics, you already know where you leads are coming from. Did they sign up through your latest Facebook ad, download your eBook, or were they referred by an existing customer? You can tailor your emails based on the specific marketing approach each customer responded to.

Other ways to segment include demographics and survey responses. The list goes on, depending on the product or service that you are selling. The point is that by breaking down your large list into smaller segments, you can send out targeted correspondence which translates to a higher likelihood of generating a response.

Personalize each email. Include details about past purchases and target items to customer interests based on those purchases. The more you demonstrate an understanding of your customers, the more likely they are to return and become loyal buyers.

Building relationships with your leads is the key to conversion. Building trust with influencers and maintaining communication through email marketing are effective methods of establishing these important relationships. And these are the relationships that create results!  

courtney.capellan.headshotCourtney Capellan is a Digital Analyst for hotelmarketingWorks. When she’s not writing about marketing trends she enjoys writing fiction, practicing yoga and treasure hunting. Follow her on Twitter @courtcapellan

3 The Minimalist Guide To Managing Your Brand Reputation Online

A dissatisfied customer, on an average, tells 25 of his friends, while a happy one tells only 15. Seems like if good reviews spread like wildfire, bad reviews would be rushing with light speed. Reviews, and how the masses consume them, are human nature, but this human nature can be fatal for online businesses especially at a time when 8 out of 10 customers treat and trust online reviews just like personal recommendations.

Let me tell you, brand value is diluting. And it marks an uprise of a generation of advocates and influencers that are a part of the crowd our customers identify with.

So here is a quick look at the ways you can ensure that your online brand reputation shines forever like gold and earns you higher AOVs, bigger ROIs, and ever increasing conversions.

How to ensure that each product has at least five reviews

Tip #1: Ask and ye shall receive

Most customers will happily review your product if you ask for it. Just call them up or send a follow-up email. This picture here shows how to get reviews on site through email:

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 10.55.46 AMTip #2: Give an incentive for review

For the hesitant ones, incentivise the review process. Run a reward point campaign or a loyalty program. [editor note – the FTC frowns on this practice unless you disclose that the review was incentivized.]

Tip #3: Poach the influencers

Dig out the people whose reviews are most trusted and offer them freebies or trial packs to ensure that each product has been reviewed.

How to manage third-party reviews (off-site)

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 10.56.03 AMManaging third-party reviews can get a little twisted if you do not have an automated services like Yotpo, which will syndicate all reviews in one dashboard and give you a chance to monitor and reply them instantaneously.

The first thing you need is a customer content service and second, a Godly omni-presence. Staying social does help, but so does having a profile on every review site. A great idea would be to have a separate profile, maybe on Twitter, to handle customer complaints.

Finally, be open and amiable. A demonstration of ‘respect for your customer’s opinion’ and ‘openness to take up criticism in stride’ will take your business a long way in fetching you repeat, happy customers.

How to build a positive reputation online and leverage customers’ trust

Most of the marketing experts unanimously vouch for one factor that gets most conversions, which is openness for customer opinions.

Step #1: Patiently listen to your customer.

Step #2: Respond instantly, but in an appreciative, comforting tone.

Step #3: Be vigilant.

If you find a great review somewhere, spread it on social media and display it on your site as a badge of honor and proof of great service.

Pay special attention to negative reviews. Do not leave them unaddressed. As much as you try to delight your happy customers through giveaways and discounts, try to make amends with the angry ones too. Apologize with a genuine voice and thank them for pointing out the potholes in your service. Send them goodies or vouchers if they are really unhappy with your service. However, do not do this too often or with everyone as it will encourage bad reviews more than good ones.

Believe it or not, customer reviews boil down to one thing – perceived value or customer expectation. If you set it too high on your website and the product doesn’t live up to it, your customer is going to feel disappointed. Keep the product copy unique and compelling but do not exaggerate its features.

parasParas heads Product Marketing at TargetingMantra, a SaaS company that lets ecommerce retailers create a personalized shopping experience for their customers just like Amazon and Zappos. An expert in Personalization and behavioral targeting, Paras has consulted over 50 clients across the globe on conversion optimization and increasing customer loyalty. He is a serial entrepreneur from IIT-Guwahati and Indian School of Business, who loves to spend his time exploring new technologies. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

2 How to increase conversion rate on your blog

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Giles Thomas   – Enjoy! 

featured-imageDo you often ask yourself:

How do I get more people to sign up to my blog?

Why is no one joining our email list?

Generating leads from your blog is no easy task.

It can be difficult to keep writing content when your conversion rate is low, 1% or even less.

Through testing and trial and error we came up with a technique that not only makes your visitors happy but also increases your conversions rates.

Convert more visitors to email subscribers using the Content Cliffhanger Technique

I struggled with conversion rate just like you, I had a pretty ok conversion rate of 3% until I discovered a fairly unknown marketing technique.

The Content Cliffhanger Technique

In three easy steps I went from 3% to a site-wide conversion rate of 22.46%!

First I’ll explain the psychology behind the technique then I’ll show you how.

Information Loops

Just like in a tv series or film, when it comes to blog conversions cliffhangers work like a charm!

This is due to something called the ‘Zeigarnik effect’.

It is when a piece of information starts but does not finish, our brains then keeps hold of the information, pushing it into our mind time and time again until the information is complete.

It seems to be human nature to finish what we start and if it’s not finished, we can’t forget it.

Bluma Zeigarnik a Russian scientist learned the phenomenon when her tutor Kurt Lewis noticed something very interesting about waiters and waitresses.

After observing them when waiting tables, they realised the waiters had much better recollection of unpaid orders than paid ones.

To the point that, when the table left the restaurant and closed the cheque the staff member would forget their order all together.

The information loop stayed open in the persons mind until the table was complete, because the narrative of that table was not complete.

Get more emails with Zeigarnik’s Findings

We can leverage this technique in our blogs to help us collect emails.

Start a narrative or information loop in the blog post and ask for an email opt-in from the visitor to complete the loop. The ending to the narrative.

The way you do this is simple:

1. Write about niche topics

For example ‘The 6 Most Effective Endurance Exercises’.

In the post start an information loop, the beginning of your narrative, the set up for your cliffhanger.

In this example they talk about 3 of the 6 best ways their readers can improve their abs.

6-best-workouts

They then offer a bonus content area to email subscribers with videos showing in detail how to do all 6 exercises.

Your bonus content could be a PDF, video or even a swipe file.

2. With the Content Cliffhanger plugin give away free bonus content

Create a download for the post that shows the reader in video form all 6 exercises in detail.

This means the reader can close the information loop by downloading the free content.

I created a free wordpress plugin to enable you to easily offer free downloads.

content-cliffhanger

 

3. Record the difference in your email opt-in rate before.

I cannot promise you exact opt in rates, nothing in conversions is a hard and fast rule. There are no one size fits all fixes. But I can say from my experience I have yet to see this make an improvement to a blogs conversion rate.

The difference with this plugin and most others is that you can customize the form and its contents for every post or page. So you can have free downloads that are always aligned with your pages content.

That is the secret behind the technique, when the users search intent is aligned with the opt-in offer, you see much higher conversion rates. Because the giveaway is aligned with what they originally searched for on google.

Start an idea in your blog post but finish it in the download, like a cliffhanger in a good tv series.

People then want to close the information gap or loop, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

This works much better than generic opt-ins like, ‘Join our newsletter’.

You can have increase your blogs conversion rate too…

…but first you must take action on what you learned in this post.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. What techniques are you using to get more conversions? What do you offer your customers when asking them to opt-in?

Talk to you soon below!

giles-thomasDownload the free 65 page Guide to List Building, download the guide here. Giles Thomas writes about Content Marketing and Conversion Rate Optimization at Acquireconvert.com. He is also the founder of  the holistic design agency Whole Design Studios.

 

3 How to Create the Happily Ever After with a Genuine Business Referral

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Lisa at PA Promotions – Enjoy!

photo credit: flickr

photo credit: flickr

Once upon a time, an apple was a crunchy fruit available in red or green, but now ‘Apple’ is a global brand that has changed the way people communicate. It is a brand we all know and appear to trust; it currently sits proudly as the number one business at the top of the Interbrand top 100 brands. Apple has been referred to as one of the most valuable companies of all time, it has changed our lives and we enjoy their products and appreciate the fact that they continue to innovate.

So what has this got to do with your business? The truth is everything, even though the Apple management team has undergone significant changes at the top, the business continues to thrive and keep close to its brand ethos, continually delivering even more impressive and up to date technologies. As Steve Jobs’ once said about Apple its “brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it.”

You Might Not Be the Next Branson

I’m guessing if you are reading this you aren’t Richard Branson or Lord Sugar, and the size and stature of Apple is not something your business has achieved… yet. But you can still learn from them and adapt the same type of transparencies to your brand so that you can enjoy repeat business and create a strong system to generate valuable referrals.

Everyone in business is looking for the same thing, a client who will commit to using their products or services. A chance to develop a long lasting relationship with their clients and hopefully an opportunity of third party endorsement which will mean a strong referral scheme and a chance for your business to grow.

Firstly, of course you have to entice the client into your brand, your shop, your showroom or your website. How do you do that? You create a relevant imaginative name, invest in the design of a logo which will appeal to your target audience and make sure you stand out from the crowd. Brilliant, if you have done this well you can sit back and enjoy the rewards, right? Wrong.

A pretty logo alone will not ensure that your business grows or that your relationships develop. For that to happen the client needs to get a sense of your brand. What is it that your company stands for? Are you eco friendly looking to launch a new widget which will make recycling more convenient for end users? Or are you a reliable boiler engineer that will ensure once serviced your boiler will live to survive the long cold winter?

Whoever you are, whatever sector you operate in, you need to be more than just a logo. You need to have a personality that people can connect with, trust and enjoy dealing with. Every interaction with your brand needs to reflect the brand promise, if you are a health care provider, make sure your offices are decorated combining the perfect mix of cleanliness and professionalism if you are a tattoo artist display your work using your walls as your portfolio.

Let Your Brand Do The Talking

Once you have created your logo, don’t just leave it static, confined to your website, newsletters, and business cards. Lift your logo and take it to your target audience, if you can’t afford TV advertising or billboard campaigns then consider your target audience and send them a gift which you are confident they will find useful. The gift will then enjoy a shelf life and even be passed on to third party end users, who will go one step closer to ensuring a business referral.

To make your brand talk to your customers and encourage more referrals consider the following:

  • Be seen, be noticed, be on a product which will not necessarily stay with the end user but travel to hit a wider audience, for example the popular pen or pencil.
  • Create a collection of merchandise that reflects your brand, and ensure each product will enhance the image of the company. For example, if you don’t want to see your brand in the bin always choose a quality ‘stormproof’ umbrella.
  • Consider subtle branding, create a range of promotional items which are subtly branded alongside an attractive pattern so that the end user is more likely to use your mug rather than somebody else’s’.
  • Understand your target audience, what would they genuinely find useful and therefore keep? For example, a trolley coin, a keyring with a torch or a bottle opener.
  • Send them a sweet treat to thank them for their business, let them know you appreciate them.
  • Be creative with the materials that you choose, consider using pencils made out of recycled bank notes or notepads made out of tyres to create an eco friendly feel.

A survey commissioned by the bpma, British Promotional Marketing Association in 2013 found that the UK is a nation of freebie hunters and that brands who use promotional products as part of the marketing mix will reap the benefits. The research found that 3 in 10 consumers had purposely changed their regular brand in order to receive a promotional product.

So while you are waiting to see what amazing new device Apple will create, take a look at your own business, give yourself a brand health check and consider how you can strengthen your relationship with your customers and encourage that all important brand referral. Establish your own brand guidelines, personality and budget to buy products which will lift your logo and encourage brand loyalty.

A final thought from the leader in creating a leading and long lasting brand, Steve Jobs once said: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that is what matters to me.”


Lisa-Author-small
About the Author – Lisa is Creative Director at PA Promotions, she has a passion for content and marketing. PA Promotions have been supplying promotional products and corporate gifts to businesses for almost 30 years.

15 The Essence of the Inbound Referral

This post is the opening positioning for the week long Make a Referral Week – officially starting Monday March 9 – Don’t forget to join us Tuesday, March 10 for a live web panel with Ivan Misner, Bill Cates and Bob Burg – Register here

Referrals happen, but seems like the more I talk to small business owners, the more I discover they don’t really know why they happen or how to make them happen more.

I think it starts with the understanding that everything about generating leads and referrals is changing.

Not long ago I was asked by a large insurance carrier to help design a marketing system for their new agents. They had used the same technique for about fifty years. It went like this. Every new agent would make up a list of 100 people they knew, had been taught or coached by, was related to their friends or was related to them. Next step was to get on the phone and ask those people, some of whom had not seen them in years, to have a discussion with this new insurance pup about taking care of the needs of their family and property.

Scary thing is, this is pretty much the approach of 90% of the companies in this industry. I am by no means picking on this industry because this a common approach for all too many businesses. And when that list of 100 is exhausted, the next option is to start pounding the phones in the equally frustrating game of cold calling.

Outbound marketing, interrupting anyone with a pulse, or worse yet a family member who might actually buy out of guilt, is a thing of the past.

In fact, my advice for this company was this: (they fired me after I suggested it by the way)

Have your agents make that list and include any influential person they had ever run across. But, instead of calling them start thinking of ways to introduce them to other businesses, services and opportunities. In fact, I suggested that they spend 50-75% of the first six months doing nothing but connecting their friends, family and network members in ways that helped them get more of what they were lacking – no selling allowed.

My experience with anyone who takes this advice and this approach is that within a couple weeks of adding value to people’s lives they never have to ask for another referral. It may feel counter intuitive to put the sales approach on the back burner and just focus on making referrals, but do it and people will find you – that’s the essence of the inbound referral.

In the end making referrals is significantly more fruitful than begging for them. Get this point and you’ll never want for leads in your business. Referrals and leads will find you. Putting this strategy into action also ignites a multiplier effect that creates unstoppable marketing momentum and fortifies your business with a network of partners ready and willing to help your get more of what you want out of life.

Happy Make a Referral Week!