Now I understand the realities, and not every business can afford expensive celebrity brand ambassadors for their products and services. While it would be great, it’s probably not in your budget to have your ads featuring NHL’s Sidney Crosby using your products or getting a Kardashian to make a surprise appearance at your upcoming business event. But, what a business can do is give simple recognition to customers who are their brand advocates and in return reap the benefits of a powerful marketing outcome.
Have you ever heard of ‘famous in a small town’? A brand advocate can provide a business with the best kind of promotion – word of mouth endorsement – that can almost always lead to new customers and instill a positive presence for the business in the community.
They are your loyal customers who just love your products and services. They would even drive the extra mile or spend a little more just to get what you have to offer. Brand advocates are individuals who would recommend you to their friends and family (let alone anyone), and tweet about their recent experience with your staff or post a picture of themselves at your business on Facebook.
So, how do you find out who your brand advocates are and how do you ensure they stay happy and loyal?
Here’s an example of a specific customer audience that could be brand advocates for a cafe:
First of all, there is a difference between a loiterer and a loyal customer. I can tell you right now that a business professional who religiously buys a coffee and cookie at your cafe whenever they use your business as a meeting venue, is not loitering. These are business professionals who may not have an office or storefront, but enjoy the atmosphere of your cafe enough to conduct a business meeting. These are ‘potential’ brand advocates and you should feel flattered that they’ve chosen your business as a meeting venue – thanks to your quality products and customer service, high-five!
Now how could a cafe capitalize on these brand advocates?
One simple example is “on the house” recognition to a ‘regular’ business professional who comes to your cafe to meet with clients and business partners. The next time the regular comes in, cover the cost of their purchase. However, don’t just give away free drinks like crazy, but keep an eye on regulars who enjoy the atmosphere of your establishment and kindly reward them for choosing you. They will be back, and not because they think you are going to give them more free coffees, but because you showed your appreciation for their business and choice of venue. You gave them a simple thank-you and they’ll value your great customer service enough to recommend your cafe to others. Success!
This idea can be applied to a ‘preferred customer’ scheme, where you reward your regular customers – whether its a discount, a free cookie or just surprising them with their order before they even had to place it – just to say thanks for your loyalty to my business. They in turn, without you having to ask, will recommend your business. Not because you give out discounts, but because of your quality service and/or product and your amazing customer service.
Once you’ve built a relationship with a brand advocate be sure to nurture it and continue to provide excellent customer service to these individuals. And no, that doesn’t mean keep giving them free stuff every time they come in (although once in a while is a nice surprise), just keep up the quality service and products that initially brought them to your business.
Remember, they didn’t start coming to your business because you gave them a free coffee, they came for your product and/or service. Why they continue to come back is because you provided them with a thank-you for their loyalty – and trust me, they appreciated it.