Whatever you want to call them, whether advocates, influencers, ambassadors or evangelists, they all share common qualities that are priceless to your business. Ambassadors are emotionally engaged with your company’s brand promise – the value you promise to deliver to your customer – it is in the very fabric of their personalities to want to share information, solve problems and help others. They have a need to contribute and be recognized. Evangelists are priceless because they influence people to make buying decisions. “Humans mimic others’ expressions and behaviors, creating emotional contagion,” wrote freelancer Stephanie Booth in an article I recently read in Psychology Today magazine. If you can positively engage someone with your brand, they could be your greatest marketing communications tool and sales person. Why? Here are three good reasons:
- Mass Communication: Influencers communicate your product and service offerings ‘one to one to many’. It’s a snowball effect. They recommend your company to their 5 friends and those friends recommend your company to their 5 friends and so on. It’s exponential communication that begins with just one advocate.
- Efficiency of Marketing Spend: The acquisition cost of each customer shrinks over time. You don’t have to spend top dollar acquiring your customers one by one, because of the ‘one to many’ approach.
- Effective Sales Tool: Brand advocates speak from the heart with a genuine message about your company, and are seen as a credible source of information because they are not directly profiting from their pitch.
Brand advocates are 70% more likely to be seen as a good source of information by people around them. BzzAgent May 2011
How you go about engaging a brand ambassador is not quick and simple. It isn’t an afterthought to your marketing plan or a last-minute tactic to boost sales. It should be woven into the very fabric of your company’s strategic sales, marketing and communications plan. Best practices for engaging customers and empowering influencers includes:
- Build value in your offerings – create an emotional bond with your customer by engaging them with your company’s product or service.
- Deliver on your promise – deliver on your brand promise and value proposition to exceed customer expectations and satisfaction.
- Integrity and honesty of your brand – provide a clear and simple message devoid of sales jargon and marketing hype.
- Make is easy for your customer – give your customers the tools to share their experiences with others and recognize them for doing so.
These are just some of the best practices that will help engage and empower evangelists for your business. What are some of the ways you enlist brand ambassadors to help your business soar?
The 2011 Colloquy Word of Mouth study shows advocates of a brand can turn to “madvocates” quickly if their interaction with a brand goes bad.
Keep your friends close and all influencers even closer. ~ Collin Douma