Companies became wise many years ago that putting their happy customers in front of prospective buyers was paying dividends, because advocates do exactly that, they advocate on behalf of you brand. Nowadays, with all of the marketing messages overloading ones system, consumers are sceptical to believe what an advertising campaign is telling them – but they’ll listen to someone who was once in their shoes.
Customer advocacy is one of your most important assets – because it can help sell for you.
What is customer advocacy?
Customer advocacy is essentially harnessing the power of your happy customers – and using their positive experiences to advocate on your behalf. That means using their experience with you to build out a case study, provide a testimonial, a referral or a lucrative recommendation. Folks who love a product or a certain brand will spread the word without any incentive, because they are on board with what you stand for.
Especially considering that more and more people are basing their buying decisions on peer recommendations during their decision-making process. In layman’s terms: people trust other people more than they trust your sales pitch.
Take this for example, world renowned PR firm, Edelman has a global annual study trust barometer that indicates that buyers, customers and consumers often will trust each other far more than they’ll trust employees, sales or a company.
So what is that saying?
It means that everything starts by building trust with your customers to focus on growing a long-term relationship. When you harness their love and positive interactions with your company, it can translate to high-quality referrals and drive sales.
Find the right advocates that will represent your brand
True customer advocacy is a two-way street and will not be accomplished by spamming your database with a million requests and not doing anything for them. Yes, you may have set them up in their forever home – but that doesn’t mean asking for referrals every two weeks.
Give them a platform to speak their voice – and tell them what you’re asking for. You want to support their efforts by letting them know where and how they can help so they can tell their story. Show them you care about them not just as a customer – but as a person.
Integrate them into your business
- Start to Segment
The whole point of customer advocacy is to empower your customers’ voice, and you want to prep yourself to be ready internally to have this as an ongoing process.
So, you already have your deep and diverse database, now it’s time to divide your core contacts and segment them properly. Build off of your Sphere of Influence with friends and family as a base to start with and spread outward with past success stories. Ask yourself, how did the client’s previous transaction(s) end? Do I want to work with the client again? Prioritizing those who’ve expressed positive feelings for your brand in the past are a perfect starting point. Use your real estate CRM to help consolidate and segment your contacts in one easy to manage space.
- Know what you’re asking for
You have to outline your asks and be straightforward with specifically what you are looking for. After you’ve properly broke your database down and understand intimately what each past client would be best suited for – you can customize your asks. So if one client is a strong writer, have them write guest blogs for you or if they would draft a case study on their experience and how you ultimately helped their situation. Build your asks around: references, creative photography, posts on social media, referrals, customer blogging, testimonials, case studies or even video. Use your CRM to create your own emails to send personalized communications and track how well they’ve been received.
- Recognize them for their efforts
Give them recognition and access to special events, give them exclusive industry reports, access to important people and information – and remember – do not pay your advocates. Otherwise you risk having it run off course and people using it as a transaction based service. For some of the bigger asks like referrals that have translated into business, go for a round of golf, tickets to a game, or a BBQ client appreciation event.
Remember, this is a two-way street and in order to properly nurture your advocates’ voice to translate into positive impressions for your business, you’ll have to do something for them. Don’t take your advocates for granted; they’re going out of their way to do something for you.