How to turn customers into powerful brand ambassadors to increase sales
Referral marketing is one of the best forms of marketing when it comes to sales and conversions. Simply put, referral marketing, sometimes called word-of-mouth marketing, is people purchasing products based on someone else’s opinion or influence.
And it’s extremely powerful!
Think about it, when was the last time you bought something or didn’t because of something your friend told you about? People trust the opinions of those in their lives and people they know or respect. This can be family, friends, social media influencers, and even big star celebrities.
By now you should be having an “ah ha” moment or at least rethinking your last purchase of the Lincoln MKC. Yeah, Matthew McConaughey can be persuasive. Just for a minute, you may also think that you can actually go back in time.
Or perhaps you’ve found yourself crying your eyes out, then donating to the SPCA. Sarah McLachlan’s song “In the Arms of an Angel” combined with the images of abused and abandoned animals is just too much to ignore.
It makes sense. As end consumers ourselves, we want to share our stories, the products we buy, and the brands we choose.
This becomes highly magnified when the buying experience and products are exceptional or when we are emotionally evoked. That’s when brand advocates are born.
What are brand ambassadors? And why should you care?
Brand ambassadors are highly satisfied customers who go out of their way to actively promote the products they love and care about. These are the people that no matter where they are, will find a way to speak about your brand in a positive way in order to influence others to purchase the product or service you offer in place of another.
It’s the friend of yours who always has the latest cell phone, shoes, jeans, or shirts from his favorite brand. Or that person who likes to eat out with her family at the local Amici’s Italian Restaurant, and don’t you even think about mentioning any other place. You know they love that brand and whatever they’re doing because it represents them.
As a friend, you’re most likely able to identify what brands speak to those people the most because they won’t stop promoting them. And eventually, you will become curious enough to see what all the hype is about. That’s when you end up doing what your friend has been doing for months or even years, researching a specific brand. The difference this time is that you’ve been influenced by your friend, not the brand itself.
“Influence is simply riding on the wave of a powerful force—the voice of the customer.” – Mark Organ
If you aren’t already convinced that brand advocates can drive your marketing efforts to success, consider this:
- 83% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products – making these recommendations the information source ranked highest for trustworthiness. [Nielsen]
- 87% of people read online reviews before they visit or buy from a local business. [BrightLocal]
- Word-of-mouth has been shown to improve marketing effectiveness by up to 54%. [MarketShare]
Brand advocates can create some value for any business, but specifically for small businesses or emerging brands. The word-of-mouth marketing that results from their words can exponentially increase your company’s profile and positive associations at a low cost compared to other marketing efforts.
So, if they’re that great, how do you find these types of customers?
How to Find and Cultivate Brand Ambassadors
You should already have an idea of what to look for; the problem is, as a business, you don’t have personal access to your customers’ lives to see brand advocacy in action. In addition, sometimes searching through thousands of online mentions to find that perfect fit is way beyond your company’s capabilities at that moment.
Instead, you should look within. Employees are a great place to start looking for brand ambassadors. Think about it, your employees already know the ins and outs of your business—or at least they should. You are communicating with them on a daily basis. They’re also learning about your products, services, and brand, developing strong opinions about your company and what it offers. Then, they’re going to go out into the world and share what they think.
Have you ever sat around a table of friends and suddenly one asks you where you’re working? This is the perfect opportunity for your employees to say something positive and exciting about your brand. Plus, if their friends didn’t know about it—as I’ve already mentioned—they will be curious enough to pop your name into the search box.
You should consider creating a quality internal marketing program. Yes, it’s time consuming and requires effort, but with the right execution, you will see a return on investment, higher profits, happier employees, and better business operations.
What is an internal marketing program? It’s simply a series of messages and actions that coheres with your company’s external marketing efforts.
Imagine a world in which your customers had no idea what was special about your brand, service, line of products, or why it should matter to them. Now, imagine your employees answering those questions with enthusiasm and a strong, positive opinion. That’s what “internal” brand advocates do. And it could mean the difference between positive, team-oriented company culture and one in which everyone fends for themselves.
The second place to look for brand advocates is your customers. Happy customers are already promoting your brand like crazy. And if they’re not, this is your opportunity to engage with them and get them talking.
Much of the process of building ambassadors occurs online, usually through social media. The key is in a simple three step process:
- Engage. If a person has bought from you, almost like they’ve engaged with you or your products at one point or another. This could’ve been through a social media post, a marketing campaign, or even passed by the product at a local retail store. Almost every brand is already doing this type of engagement to a certain extent. But it shouldn’t be just about you. Engage in dialog with your customers, in person or online, it will make a difference.
- Listen. Those social media notifications you’ve been ignoring? Start going through them and see what other people are saying about your brand. Send customer surveys to your entire client base and get some feedback. Monitor your online and offline presence at all points in time. You may consider using free tools like Mentiomapp, SocialMention, Complaint Search by Go Fish Digital, and Whos Talkin.
- Respond. This is by far where most companies fail. They don’t respond and re-engage their customers. Customers want more than a product or service. They want to engage with those they’re working with. At the very least, they want to be thanked and rewarded in some way that makes them feel good. So go back to those old comments and reviews you ignored, and don’t leave even one unanswered. A simple “thank you” should suffice.
Your Next Steps — Turn Customers Into Powerful Brand Ambassadors
Brand ambassadors are essential to any small business. They can cut your marketing costs, increase profits, and evangelize your company, influencing others to buy from you.
Creating a brand advocate program is your next step to increasing your margins and allowing your fans to bring new customers to you. It’s just a way to turn customers into powerful brand ambassadors.
A brand ambassador program is designed to connect you to your special customers on an ongoing basis. The purpose of the program is to help you reach both awareness and revenue goals for your brand. This allows you to make your marketing more effective and efficient. In effect, you’ll have greater insights into who your customers are and how to market them. It’s the closest thing to “seeing the lives” of your customers.
Thanks for spending your time on the article How to turn customers into powerful brand ambassadors to increase sales. I hope this article would inspire you to tweak your ideas on enhancing your sales/marketing strategies into a more cost effective and impactful manner. Indeed, there are ways that help businesses thrive. It’s worth a struggle to find out what best works for your business.