Unlock The Secret Power Of Your Own Customer Base To Drive Revenue
There’s a new kind of marketing, and it’s quickly becoming one of the most effective and efficient programs to help generate leads and turn sales opportunities into new customers. It’s called advocacy marketing, and you have everything you need to start doing it today.
Do you have happy customers? Almost every healthy business should be able to answer that question with a resounding “yes.” Of course you have happy customers. Now, do you think your prospects believe you during the marketing and sales process? In other words, do they trust everything you say while you’re marketing to them and helping them through your sales process?
If you’re honest there, you should say “no.” Most prospects are skeptical. They don’t believe everything you say and think you’ll tell them what they want to hear just to close the deal. Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant, because this is what they think. But they do believe your customers, because they don’t have an agenda.
You have prospects who are skeptical and who believe your customers more than they believe you. You have happy customers who would love to talk about how you helped them. This is an opportunity to activate your customer base to help tell your story in a more authentic and efficient way. This is advocacy marketing.
Here are some easy ways to start and run an advocacy marketing initiative at your company.
Identify Your Advocates
You said you have happy clients. Now you have to wrangle them up into one place where you can keep track and communicate with them. One of the best ways to do this is to ask your client teams or your services organization to start identifying your happiest and most vocal clients. One way we do that is post-delivery.
Usually, clients are happy during significant times in the engagement, such as when their website goes live early, they get a slew of great leads, they close a big deal that we sourced for them or they see major shifts in key metrics.
You probably have milestones like this in your business, too. Identify those and start asking customer service people to forward you the names of the happy customers. Start collecting a database of these people, gathering company names, industries, roles and the services or products you’re providing them. This extra data is going to help you match advocates with prospects quickly and easily.
Create Your Reward System
This is optional, and some people feel weird about rewarding customers to be advocates.
But you’re asking them for their time, taking them away from their job to help you and doing it in a programmatic way. For those reasons, I think it’s fair to offer them something for their time.
This is where your creativity is going to come into play. You can offer them gift cards, discounts on future services or credits. Consider scaling the rewards based on the effort. For example, providing a simple reference call might count toward a small reward, doing a full-blown testimonial video may merit a bigger reward and participating in a webinar panel could earn them your largest reward. It’s all up to you.
What you have to do is create the levels and the rewards. Then, communicate the program details to all of your advocates so they are aware and engaged.
Build Advocacy Into Your Marketing And Sales Strategies
Now that you have advocates and a way to incent them and reward them for helping you, it’s still critical that you strategically decide how to deploy their advocacy into your sales and marketing execution. The last thing you want to do is spray and pray. Instead, you want to surgically deploy this so that you optimize the impact.
For example, on the marketing side, use advocacy to do joint webinars with customers, and get customers to do videos that you can use on your website or in lead nurturing campaigns. These assets help you increase conversion rates and click-through rates, which in turn drive up highly qualified leads and sales opportunities.
When it comes to sales, deploying personal emails from your customers at the perfect time in your sales process does wonders for helping your prospects to know, like and trust you more. Not only are you telling them how you can help, but now your customers are telling them how you did help, and that info was unsolicited. It’s highly powerful.
Set Benchmarks For Current Performance Pre-Advocacy
Like everything you do, you should create a quantitative measure for its performance. What gets measured gets done. You have to know how you’re doing now so you know how advocacy contributed to your new numbers.
To do this, start looking at sales cycle and close rates. You can also look at lead nurturing click-through performance and the percentage of sales opportunities against total marketing-qualified leads.
Track Lift And Program Performance
Your advocacy efforts should be able to provide lift to all four of these metrics, and you should see that lift in short order (weeks instead of months). As you start to see lift, make sure you continue to think about improvements and optimization. Just because you see improvement doesn’t mean there aren’t more improvements to be gained. We like to set new benchmarks and then work to beat those marks month over month.
It’s rare that you get a marketing idea that costs almost nothing and produces lift on both marketing and the sales sides of the funnel, but advocacy marketing checks all three boxes. The only money you might need is to reward your clients who participate in your program, and that is 100% optional.
All you have to do is follow the steps above and build your advocacy marketing program, communicate it to your clients and activate it. Once you get them involved, you’ll see a ripple effect where they actually want to help you. It’s quite exciting to see your customers helping you grow.
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