Learn how you can harness the power of your most devoted customers by empowering them to become brand ambassadors.
Having customers who are also vocal brand ambassadors can have a number of benefits. First, they can be a joy to work for. Second, they can be far more price tolerant since they understand what your value is. Third, since they’re committed to a positive outcome, they may be easier to work with. And finally, customers turned brand ambassadors can do your marketing for you. They don’t just give you their business: They may be more likely to drag their friends, family and neighbors in as well.
My own company, Profit First Professionals, is experiencing tremendous growth right now, and the reason why is our members themselves. They’re raving fans, and they’ve learned that as they elevate Profit First Professionals, they elevate themselves. It’s a beautiful thing. The following recommendations may help you do the same for your business:
1. Work for fewer clients.
I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out! Finding your business’s niche often means narrowing your focus. When you deal with specific problems and situations over and over, you can become the expert at resolving them, which may mean you can attract more devoted customers who then become brand ambassadors.
Think about the brain surgeon. She does the same work over and over. She knows what to expect and what to anticipate at every step along the way. Contrast the surgeon with a general practitioner. He has to be current on everything from your head to your toes, but he may not have time to do anything in depth. Which physician is more likely to have the most devoted clients—the kind of clients who will go miles out of their way to get an appointment? It’s most likely the brain surgeon. She can command higher prices, and her patients know she’s worth it. Becoming a master of one trade, rather than a jack of them all, can position you to win over customers and turn them into brand ambassadors.
2. Under promise and over deliver.
If your customers are set up with huge expectations, then even if you deliver every single thing, they may just be satisfied, rather than overjoyed. The key is managing expectations. Zappos is a great example of over delivering. They promised free five-day shipping, and then they shipped shoes overnight. Customers were elated—and they told all their friends. When you genuinely wow your customers, they can turn into fans and brand ambassadors for life.
3. Seek honest feedback.
If you simply ask your customers if they’re satisfied, they may not provide useful answers.
But if you ask specific questions designed to elicit honest, helpful feedback, you’re setting yourself up to improve your service and products. Consider asking your customers what one thing you could improve about your business, or asking if there’s one thing they’d change if they ran your company. You can then take that feedback and get to work. Remember to thank your customers for their input and also to show them the action you’ve taken as a result.
4. Empower customers to market for you.
Brand ambassadors may enjoy sharing their love for your company, particularly by giving out cool promotional gear. Whether it’s a sticker, T-shirt, magnet, pen, mug or baseball cap, you may want to give your best customers plenty of swag to share. People love free stuff, especially if it’s useful or clever. You never know how far your marketing material can go in your customers’ hands.
5. Market your fans.
Cultivating brand ambassadors and turning them loose on the world is just part of the process. The sprinkles on the icing on the cake are the enthusiastic words of your fans themselves in your marketing materials. Whether it’s a video on your website or a quote for a brochure, you can give your fans an outlet for their enthusiasm. By encouraging them to spread the word about their participation in your success, you can help build both their reputation and your own.
I’ve always found that one of the most useful strategies for transforming customers into brand ambassadors is to be myself. When you’re authentic, when you’re working in a field that’s not just a paycheck but is also a passion, then your enthusiasm shines through. We can’t help but mirror back the fulfillment and joy that’s expressed by people who have found their calling.
As you’re finding your niche, I recommend checking in with your gut—asking yourself if you’re heading in a direction that feels right, authentic and satisfying. Typically, if you build it right, your fans will find you.
Cover image: iStock
This article first appeared in www.americanexpress.com