Having raving fans isn’t enough. You need to arm your customers with easy ways to advocate for you, because if handled right, your happy customers can become your strongest marketing force.
I recently bought a pair of Vibram FiveFingers shoes for myself. You know, those crazy shoes that look like finger-gloves for your feet? I knew my family would have a lot to say about them. When my wife started in about the shoes, I was not only able to defeat the “attack,” but I was able to convert my wife into a fan. The company had armed me with so many marketing resources in advance that I became a natural spokesperson.
This is precisely what you need to do: Convert your customers into advocates for your products, even (or especially) if you don’t sell funny looking foot apparel. Here's how.
1. Sell after the sale. Once customers buy from you, congratulate them on picking your stuff. Then educate them again on why the product or service they bought was a smart choice. Give them confidence after the purchase. The goal here is to do more than fend off buyers' remorse. The goal is to arm them with enough information so they can tell others why they should buy your product. After all, they are real live, out-there-in-the-world mannequins showing off your product (or talking about your service) to everyone they know.
2. Make your bullet points simple. Send a written letter (email would work too, but a written letter or physical brochure is better) thanking the customer for the purchase. Include simple bullet points on what makes the product/service superior. This educates the customer on what they can share naturally when other people admire it. You can make it easy to remember and to repeat, like, “The funnest shoes you’ll ever wear,” or educational, like the old Wonder Bread slogan, “Helps build strong bodies 12 ways.”
3. Reward the customer. Give your customers credit, discounts or gifts for referring you to others. And don’t forget the most important thing you can give: your sincere thanks and recognition. Call them personally to thank them for any referrals; no one else does, so it goes miles further than a preprinted thank you card or form letter email.
4. Make referring and liking easy. Tweet and “Like” buttons on your site have a huge impact because they’re so easy to use. Easy’s good. So put links that are easy to use and easy to promote next to all your products and services to make it, dare I say, easy for others to spread the word for you.
5. Contests. Everyone likes a fun contest, especially if there’s a chance of winning recognition and fame for their efforts. Just being acknowledged and thanked are all the prizes many customers and fans need—but you can throw in t-shirts if you’re not sure. Set up a contest for customers to spread the word about you, then evaluate them on how much they spread the word and how many new leads it brings your way.
6. Make it about them. Make your product “all about the customer.” Encourage customers to submit photos and stories of themselves and their friends and family using your product. Use and promote all the photos on your website, because they’ll send their friends the link to “their” photos! (If you have toddlers, you know that nothing makes people want something more than seeing someone else having something they don’t.)
7. Ask for honest reviews. Depending on what your product is, send customers and fans free samples and ask them to review them. Ask them to get their friend’s feedback on the items via their blogs or social network, then tweet about it. Have a random “spotter” checking Twitter for the best tweets and Twitpics, then select additional testers for future products or discounts. That encourages more customers to spread the word about your product on social networks.
People who love your product are naturally going to want to share it. Trust me, every time I get a chance, I’m showing off my shoes and talking about them. All you have to do to get your customers to do the same is to provide the opportunity for them to do it naturally and authentically. Make it easy and make it fun, and they’ll make it profitable for you.
Want more marketing tips and advice? Check out these marketing articles.
Mike Michalowicz is the CEO of Provendus Group, a business growth consulting group that helps companies whose growth has plateaued to grow again (and fast). Michalowicz is the author of The Pumpkin Plan and the business cult classic, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.