“The Power of Advocates and How to Get Them Working For You!”
One of the best ways to market your business is not through more salespeople, more ads or more social media posts. It’s your customers or patients. If you have a good product or service, chance are there will be at least a few of them who are “raving fans”, as Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles call them so aptly in their book of the same name.
The good news about this is that you don’t need a lot of them, although the more you have the better. They are your advocates. These are the more-than-satisfied customers who will sing your praises to anyone who will listen–and a lot who won’t. Some will even seek out other customers for you, people they know who would benefit from what you sell and be so zealous in their lavish praise of you that their “targets” would swear they were getting a commission.
But what I’ve found is that these advocates are simply happy with what you do and want others to benefit from the same great product/service. Either that or they simply like you personally and want to help you, plain and simple. And it helps if you endear yourself to them as well. I’m not talking about being inauthentic. On the contrary. Insincerity in business will only go so far. People have their B.S. detectors on high all the time. With the competition in most industries continuing to heat up at a rapid pace, the only way you’re going to survive is by doing what you say you’re going to do and following through.
And advocates can help with that. They’re living, breathing testimonials for you. As I learned years ago, you can’t have too many third-party testimonials on your website or on any of your marketing materials. You can toot your own horn all you want but when someone else–a satisfied or, better yet, an ecstatic customer–sings your praises either in print or in an audio/video testimonial, your credibility goes way up. Joe Schmoe has no vested interest in you or your business other that what your product/service has done for him so it must be a good product if he’s quoted on your website, right? Right! Remember, marketing is nothing more than perception.
I’ve found that you can’t really seek out these zealots of your business. They seem to come from out of the blue, trying your stuff and then they’re fans for life—or at least long enough to get a bunch of other people onboard with you that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. But what you can do is cultivate the relationship and encourage more of their behavior, namely, selling for you without an incentive other than being extremely happy with you and your business.
I remember one of my advocates in the 90’s when I was doing my comedy magic act. This gentleman was responsible for more work coming my way in one year than my agent was! And it’s only because he liked my act. I didn’t pay him and I didn’t offer him incentives to get him to push my name. He did it simply because he really liked what I did and wanted to tell others about me.
Here are 3 things that you can do to keep your advocates working for you:
1. Reward them! Positive reinforcement 101, maybe? An ethical bribe? I firmly never believed in a free lunch. If someone helps you or makes you money, create value in return for them. Give them a substantial discount on some of your other products. And I mean a substantial discount that no one else gets (50% off as opposed to 20% that everyone else gets). Maybe recognize him with “customer of the year”. Get creative. His enthusiasm is more likely to continue if he’s recognized for it. In the case of my advocate, I recognized him every time he was in my audience. It made him feel good and me too. I wouldn’t have been there without him!
2. Stay in touch with them. Today, marketing is all about engagement. People want to deal with people not institutions. That’s why it’s so important to get involved with their conversations on social media, send them e-mails periodically to let them know you want to keep in touch. And, particularly for your advocate, personal contact is a must!
3. Reciprocate and become their advocates. If you believe in what they do (and remember, sincerity is key here.), then go out of your way to promote them and their business. Not only is it good business but it’s the right thing to do. Remember the “Golden Rule”? It’s even more valid in today’s business world.
What can you do today for your advocates?