Launching a new brand, or growing an existing one, you’re naturally bound to think of the most visible forms of marketing first: content, social, advertising and email. But how much have you thought about harnessing the power of your clients? It’s a well-known fact that people buy from people; who they know, like and trust. Research shows that 90% of consumers read reviews of local businesses before making a firm decision, and 84% trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.
In B2B sales, it has been proven to be no different. A whopping 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth when making their buying decisions. Prospects will conduct their own research before signing an order, and they only need to spend a short time online to quickly gauge whether you have a team of advocates and importantly, what they’re saying about you and your services. If you still aren’t totally convinced, here are some more compelling stats:
● Customer recommendations are more believable than paid adverts (Nielsen)
● Word of mouth drives 20-50% of all decisions (McKinsey & Company)
● Advocates customers spend 2x more (Bain & Company)!
One of the simplest tools of the trade to find out your customer’s perception is the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which asks one key question; “using a 0-10 scale, how likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?” The answer provides a quick and easy-to-measure score which allows any prospective client or buyer to rapidly understand customer perception. In The Ultimate Question 2.0 by authors Reichbeld and Markey, they assert that organisations with the highest NPS in a category grow at least twice the rate of other companies which fall into the same category.
Customer advocacy is important, and something you should be making use of. Increasingly, your customer is fast becoming the most important person selling your business; essentially…your biggest fan. In a world where consumer trust is constantly tested, a review or testimonial can speak volumes. Sure, you can wax lyrical about your own product offering but prospective clients really sit up and pay attention when a customer is championing your brand. Savvy marketers need to ensure they use all the sales resources in their grasp, yet many are ignoring one of the most powerful channels – customers. Fewer than half of companies even know who their brand ambassadors are, and even less than that are actively engaging with them and utilising their worth.
We’ve all been in the position with a pressing bid, with a sales team running around to acquire a useful and necessary testimonial. It not only results in lost time, but in some cases, an inability to fulfil the criteria leading to a lost bid. By establishing a well-managed program, businesses can not only attract more prospects, shorten sales cycles and increase customer wins, but also allow analysts, press and investors to validate customer success stories. It can also ensure a steady flow of customer feedback and insight, not only allowing you to better sell, but also allowing you to improve your products and services in the long term.
Essentially, a brand ambassador can:
– Influence deals at all stages of the sales funnel, and be the deal clincher
– Humanise your brand and become a ‘face’ of your company
– Protect your online and offline reputation
– Provide you with valuable and positive word-of-mouth
– Extend your social reach and increase web traffic to your website.
Yes, you will need to invest time and resource into establishing a clear and fit-for-business program (not forgetting creating the right customer-centric culture), but the rewards far exceed the costs. There are excellent advocate marketing software platforms that don’t cost the earth, and you can also begin the process pretty swiftly, by setting up some basic community marketing, such as written testimonials and quotes, short blogs and videos, securing usage of customer logos, or inviting a customer to speak at an event or to an analyst.
No one can establish trust in your brand quite like a happy and fulfilled customer. Aside from providing referrals and endorsements, customers can humanise and add credibility to your brand and can counter any negative sentiment. Better still, investing in your customer community can be an inspiration for some of your best ideas, and in return you can harness your most powerful salesforce yet; your customers!
Look out for further blogs on customer advocacy as we explore ways to build an army of advocates as well as 4 good reasons why your customer should do it.