As we pen this post, we find ourselves in the midst of football season (please don’t mention the Colts), the World Series is happening (please don’t mention the Cubs), and basketball is just underway (must you really mention Paul George?). There is something all of these sports have in common, besides heartbreak and deep deep disappointment.
Fans. Crazy for their sports, will-withstand-any-weather fans, will-stand-by-their-man fans no matter what.
Wouldn’t it be great if your business had fans like that? Fans that dressed in your corporate colors, wore your company name across their backs and talked you up to total strangers? Not because you asked them to, either. Just because they think you’re pretty swell.
In the marketing world, we call those folks brand advocates. There are ways you can nurture those potential super fans, yet far too often in the customer journey those opportunities are missed. While every business’ customer journey is different, in general, it looks like this:
They know you exist, you know, like in high school when that guy or girl says hi and you’re like “OMG, they know I exist!”
They’re thinking about making a purchase, aka asking you out.
They’re buying what you’re selling or, in other words, you’re dating.
We’re sticking with you instead of a competitor — you know, going steady.
They love your business so much they’ve become super fans, which means they’ve gushed about you to their parents and friends.
If you’re like most businesses, you focus more on getting the business than retaining it. Getting a prospect to the purchase stage is certainly a good, worthy and necessary goal. But retaining them – creating a repeat purchaser and fostering a brand advocate — that’s where the real win takes place.
As a print and promotional business, we’ve helped many savvy companies successfully tackle those final three components of the customer journey on their way to creating super fans. Here are a few tips to help you move a customer along the funnel to becoming a brand advocate.
1. Purchase: Delight & Surprise
While having a customer make a purchase may make you feel all warm and fuzzy, remember that sometimes the customer may not feel the same way, especially if you’re in the business of fixing things that went wrong, e.g. an auto body shop, roofing company, or dentist.
Don’t let the purchase be the end of the transaction. Delight and surprise your new customer with things like:
- A handwritten thank-you note. Hardly anyone writes notes anymore, so getting one makes an impact.
- Welcome gifts with your logo on them — canvas bags, mugs, soft t-shirts, notepads, etc. (We have thousands of options for you to consider, and experts to help you find exactly the right item.)
- Thank-you gifts. Think beyond chocolate. We can help you brand almost anything, like salsa, coffee, nuts and more.
2. Retain: Do the Unexpected
Going back to that dating metaphor, once you’re in a relationship, it’s the unexpected thoughtful gestures that can seal the deal. And if your business is in the B2B field, don’t think this doesn’t apply to you. Corporations are people too, remember?
- Celebrate personal moments like birthdays, births, marriages, a new home. Make sure you have a method in place when a customer comes on board for gathering this type of info.
- Acknowledge corporate milestones. Send a note or a small gift to celebrate the one year anniversary of being a customer, or the completion of a project. Not everyone says thank you. Be the business that does. Consider sending them something that has their logo on it, not yours.
- Holiday gifts are another great way to retain customers and help them become brand advocates. But, please, not just December. You could be the only company that tells your clients how much you love them on Valentine’s Day. Or consider standing out by sending something different: like a locally made, hand-crafted item from our Batch line! (*shameless plug warning)
- Have we mentioned handwritten notes and what an impact they carry? Use them all along the customer journey. Not just for thanks, either. If you have something to apologize for, an “I’m sorry” handwritten note is as sincere as Linus’ pumpkin patch.
Advocate: Be Bold!
While some of your customers may be natural-born brand advocates, others may need a nudge or two to cross the line from satisfied customer to super fan. Don’t be shy about asking them for their support, and consider doing something outside the sales arena that cements their loyalty and appreciation.
- Create a referral program. Ask them to refer a friend in exchange for a discount, promotional offer, etc.
- Ask for reviews and testimonials that you can use on your website, in your social media, and in collateral materials.
- Entertain and educate! Offer free or low-cost lunch & learns, special events, mixers or tours. Here in Indianapolis, there are dozens and dozens of great places to hold these types of events that are a draw in and of themselves. Take advantage of those types of places to bring people in — and be even cooler by association!
Are you ready to think past the POS and turn your customers into brand advocates? We’re here to help! Contact us for advice on developing and implementing a strategy for turning your customers into your biggest fans.