6 Tips for Turning Your Customers into Valuable Marketing Assets

Free Advertising While Building Trust: Why Customer-Driven Brand Advocacy is Vital to Sales

customerThe role of the sales representative has greatly evolved from a cold-calling brand and product pitching position to a lead nurturing and purchase-enabling position. Often, the best marketing and sales teams work together to seamlessly move a lead through the sales cycle. Customer-driven brand advocacy enhances the sales team’s ability to close deals effortlessly.

The Difference between Customer Advocacy and Brand Influencers

Online you will find some difference of opinion about customer advocacy. Customer advocates are not customers. They are employees who focus on the customer experience and help businesses make strategic decisions around customer needs.

Brand influencers, on the other hand, are consumers and customers who write reviews and discuss brand experiences online. Companies of all sizes can and do leverage brand influencers to improve business processes, products, and the customer experience. Here are some insights into how customer advocates and companies commonly encourage customers to become valuable brand resources:

  • Launching loyalty programs and providing referral incentives – Loyalty programs give something back to the consumer, but they also represent an opportunity for brand conversations. Every time a customer uses a loyalty card or receives a great deal, he or she has an opportunity to highlight the benefits of the brand to others.
  • Developing brand influencer relationships – Many companies today are building brand influencer partnerships. Well known vloggers and bloggers review or mention certain products or services to improve brand visibility. They act independently and are not hired marketers. Brand influencer relationships and customer-created content increase market exposure in a way that helps both consumers and companies.
  • Engaging with consumers online – Social media interactions humanize a brand. Whether a company is responding to an inquiry or engaging in trending conversations, these small interactions strengthen brand visibility. Use carefully crafted content to encourage social media users and customers to talk about your products. Online communications are more important than ever for strengthening customer awareness and loyalty.
  • Bringing groups of consumers together – Encourage your target market to interact with brand influencers and references through roundtable discussions, teleconferences, and other events. Doing so demonstrates a brand’s commitment to customer outcomes, not just sales data.
  • Optimizing the brand experience – Every touch point a company has with consumers is an opportunity to earn a brand influencer or a new acquisition. Instead of focusing on the short-term sales goals, encourage sales teams to focus on building a great experience along the way.
  • Recognize customers – A customer who has a great experience is a natural sales representative for your company. You can either onboard loyal customers or invite them to events that are mutually beneficial, such as product launches or networking engagements. Recognizing natural influencers helps them, other consumers, and your brand. It’s organic and it works.

Sales representatives who leverage natural brand advocates can focus on providing real value for the customers. Customer-centric sales activities allow consumers to take the lead while a brand facilitates the natural sales cycle progression. If your sales game is not producing the results your business needs, then it may be time to try a different approach. Enable your customers to sell your products and services with the right tools and support.

Need more sales advice? Check out my Sales/Business Development Coaching program.

Additional Resources:
How to Create True Customer Advocates
How To Create A Customer Advocacy Program
The Essential Role of a Customer Advocacy Office