You can write the best ad copy in the world and it will still pale in comparison to the testimony of a satisfied customer.
That’s because happy customers talk to people they already know.
They don’t have to overcome any trust issues like you do when you’re marketing to complete strangers.
Even better: when satisfied customers promote your brand, it’s usually out of a genuine interest in helping the person that they’re speaking with. It’s not viewed as an advertisement that usually triggers psychological barriers.
Finally, when your customers are happy and promote your business, you’ve amassed a sales force that could literally reach all the way around the world. And you don’t owe them one dime in commission.
In this article, we’ll look at a few ways that you can turn your loyal customers into brand evangelists.
Here’s a great idea: if you want loyal customers to promote your brand, ask them to promote your brand.
That seems like an answer that’s too easy, but it really isn’t.
As a good marketer, you already know about the importance of asking people to buy your product or service. Why would you opt for a different approach when you want people to act as brand advocates?
Sure, there’s a proper time to ask people to essentially work for you for free, and we’ll cover that in the next point.
But it all starts with the right mindset. If you want people to do something for you, ask them.
Strike While the Iron Is Hot
A good entrepreneur not only knows how to recruit a band of brand evangelists but also when.
It’s this simple: ask people to promote your business when they’re excited about your product or service.
At that time, your customers will be happy about what you’re doing for them. They’ll appreciate the effort you’ve put into making their lives better or improving their business.
It’s when your customers are happiest with you that you should start asking for referrals.
For example, if you’re a real estate agent and you’ve just helped a young couple buy their first home, they’re probably going to be most excited once their offer is accepted and it’s time to start passing papers.
That’s when you’d ask for a referral.
Why? Because that’s when they’re most likely to appreciate all the effort you put into helping them fulfill the American dream of home ownership.
Don’t Make It All About You
Once you’ve found that sweet spot when your customers are most attached to your brand and you’re ready to ask for a referral, it’s time for the right approach.
To continue with the example above, if you just hand a bunch of business cards to that young couple and tell them to give those cards to friends and family members who might need a real estate agent, then you’re not taking the right approach.
You need an incentive.
A lot of marketers opt for the “referral fee” approach as an incentive. That is, they’ll essentially give the customers a commission if the referral results in a sale.
That’s not necessarily a bad idea. However, your customers might encounter the same roadblocks in their marketing that you do: the people they talk to think they’re acting out of self-interest.
That’s why it’s a good idea to practice a little social responsibility while you grow your business.
Instead of promising a referral fee, let your customers know that you donate a certain percentage of your proceeds to a local charity. That charity can be a food bank, a homeless shelter, or some other humanitarian effort.
For example, if you’re that real estate agent who just helped the couple close on their first house, you’d give them your business cards while saying something like this: “While we’re waiting for all these papers, let me hand you some of my business cards in case you know people who need a real estate agent. Our business donates 5% of its proceeds to the local food bank, so you’d also be doing something great for the community if you sent some business our way.”
At Ignite Visibility, we support multiple charities and donate about 10% of profits to this.
Create a Loyalty Program
Depending on your business model, you can also turn customers into brand advocates by developing a loyalty rewards program.
How does that help? Note the title of the article again.
You’re trying to turn loyal customers into brand evangelists.
Before you can do that, you need loyal customers. One of the best ways to build loyalty is with a rewards program.
That will incentivize your otherwise one-time customers to hang around for a while. Once they become accustomed to your brand and use it regularly, they’ll start talking about it with their friends and family members.
That gives you free advertising.
As a bonus, a loyalty program also provides you with market research. You’ll quickly see which types of incentives work and which types don’t.
Finally, loyalty programs are often very low maintenance. You put them in place and just let them do their magic.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
You might have the best sales force in the world, but it’s still too small. Grow your company of brand advocates by transforming loyal customers into people who sing the praises of your business. Then, watch it grow.