Any savvy marketer in today’s world needs to make use out of every single sales resource in their reach…yet many are ignoring one of the most powerful channels available…their own customers! People buy from people they like, know or trust, so your glossy brochure or expertly delivered demo may not be enough to convert a potential prospect by itself. We all check Trip Advisor before booking a holiday and read online reviews before buying a product, and it is no different in B2B. Prospects do their own research, and they only need to spend a few minutes online to quickly gauge whether you have a team of followers, and what they’re saying about you.
Whilst you may not be able to influence all customers (yes, there will always be that one disgruntled person on social!), you can most definitely gather an army of advocates who will sing your praises and will be willing to share their experiences. They don’t even need to be elaborate; a guest blog on your website, a one-line testimonial or even a customer talking on your behalf at a launch event. It all helps!
But if it’s that simple, why aren’t we doing more of it?
Well; two reasons. Either a company hasn’t recognised the power of customer advocacy or they don’t know how to convince their advocates (without paying them) to spend time and effort to promote their business.
If it’s the latter for you, here are four incentives to illustrate why it pays for customers to make the effort…
1. Raise their brand profile
It may seem an obvious one, but some customers still need this pointed out to them. By generating positive exposure for your company, they raise their company profile externally but without the need for direct selling. Depending on who and what they are endorsing, they can come across as professional, innovative and successful but without the hard pitch. And don’t forget the personal brand of your end customer; you are effectively providing a spotlight for their company which they may not be able to do for themselves. For example, securing a media interview or capturing them on a short film will enable them to raise their personal profile – especially if your end customer is vocal.
2. Reward with insight
If your customer is willing to give up their time and place effort in helping you win business, then you need to reward them. However, this cannot be a cash in hand job…that would breach anti-bribery laws. Find out what your customer wants from your business and then work with them to make that happen. They may want to spend time with your strategy or executive team, or may want further insight into your product development. As customer testimonials are powerful trust signals, investing time and effort to nourish your customer relationship will pay dividends in the long term.
3. Demonstrate thought leadership
Your customer may be well known and respected within their own firm, but how well are they known in the industry? They may wish to become more visible and fast track their own careers; as such, you can provide them with the opportunity to participate in industry interviews and public engagements which can only benefit their exposure. Allowing them to participate in such activities can have a long-term effect on their career and open gateways for them to become a spokesperson at other events as an expert in their field.
4. Expand their business reach
Going further, you may wish to hold back from constructing your own case study with a particular customer, and instead allow a trade-press journalist or analyst to interview them instead; providing the customer with a greater reach and as such, impacting their own business as well as yours in a hugely positive way. Your customer will benefit from connecting with the media, analysts and industry peers and both businesses will be showcased along with their respective successes. And let’s face it, journalists far prefer to hear from customers than suppliers!
Customers choose your solutions to help them achieve their strategic goals, so create an environment where they can celebrate, promote and share successes with peers and in turn, give them the recognition they deserve.
And if you’re not convinced on the benefits of a customer advocacy program, check out this blog: http://bit.ly/2iYpAVR.