• How Existing Customers Bring You New Customers: The 5 Step Process

    Fri, 23 May 2014, in Customers

    Here’s a novel idea: Why spend money on social marketing and PR when your customers can do it for you?

    When I think of a brand advocate I think of my little sister. All I have to do is think back twenty years and recall the extent of our friendship during that time. Although we had bouts of sibling rivalry, for the most part she was singing praises and supporting me publicly and privately all the same.

    How Existing Customers Bring You New Customersphoto credit bfs_man

    There was no money or favors involved, it was simple encouragement and support – she just loved me how I was. Brand advocacy is basically the same thing between the customer and your brand. Once a third party starts singing phrases about your company, their opinions will matter more since there’s no incentive for their actions except for plain, old, company love. By encouraging praises in community, users performing research related to your brand will gain a positive first impression about your company.

    They say that all the best things in life are free, including smiles, hugs and brand advocacy. By paying someone to be your advocate, they’re essentially your employees, or “brand ambassadors” meaning they personally and exclusively promote your brand for money.

    What’s better, a brand advocate or a brand ambassador?

    The difference is worth repeating: Ambassadors are paid by the company and advocates aren’t.

    Your advocates are your consumers who decide to promote your company out of their own accord, due to multiple positive experiences with your brand over time.

    Brand ambassadors, by contrast, are simply paid advocates, and there are many types of people in this category. Spokespeople, celebrities, industry experts, insider and paid bloggers are just some of the people that endorse products for money. Obviously, the bigger the company is, the more money they can afford to throw to Jennifer Aniston to advertise the new anti-aging cream.

    The advocate and the ambassador are both potential customer magnets, but the power of social media is quickly turning the focus to the advocate. Some may be swayed by the good looks of Jennifer Aniston, but we know that in social media, power is in numbers and brand advocates do a lot more than just make a company look good.

    The 5 step process to brand advocacy

    1. The potential customer becomes aware

    Initially, a customer goes by your marketing, PR material or simply by word of mouth from an existing customer to gain information about your business. Once your customer is intrigued to the point of considering your product, they can proceed to step 2, which is…

    2. The potential customer deliberates

    This is where your customer service agent shines. Your customer may know exactly what they’re looking for or may require greater assistance in their decision making process. In either case, your customer is deliberating between you, your competition and whether or not they actually need your product.

    3. The potential customer turns into an (actual) customer

    Congratulations! You’ve made the sale! Now, you thank your customer for their business and send them on their merry way. But you’re not out of the woods yet, as your customer may have an issue down the road, demand an exchange or ask about an upgrade.

    4. The customer becomes loyal

    A repeat customer isn’t born overnight, so building customer loyalty takes time, nurturing and most importantly, your organization’s knack in exceeding customer expectations.

    5. Hooray! The customer becomes an advocate!

    As the customer moves through these steps, they are able to experience the customer service process your company has in place, from top to bottom. This culminates when they reach the end to become company advocates. Note that in the beginning, the customer is the recipient of positive PR, and at the end, they become the makers and promoters of it.

    Should you try to turn every customer into a brand advocate?

    Brand advocates are invaluable to a company. Consider the following customer engagement statistics:

    According to a 2010 survey in McKinsey Quarterly, person-to-person word of mouth has shown to generate twice the number of final sales than conventional mass media advertising.

    Zuberance claims that brand advocates are willing to spend more (up to 200% – that is twice as much) on their favorite brands than regular customers.

    Users value their fellow users’ opinions. In a survey by Deloitte, customers that referred their friends (or strangers, for that matter) will have an average of at least 40% retention rate.

    Less than a quarter of all brands make use of advocates to drive forward their marketing – showing just how unexplored this strategy is in the business world. Whether or not you’re planning on embarking on the difficult road of nurturing an army of brand advocates or playing it safe and focus on the old-fashioned methods of providing excellent support, the value of the human touch will do wonders for your support!

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