The internet of things has changed the way in which organizations obtain leads and how prospects vet your company. Buyers have a plethora of information available at their fingertips, including communities, forums, and review sites all competing to tell them how great (or terrible!) your company is.
Unfortunately, most businesses aren’t proactive on these sites, and some make the dreaded mistake of actually arguing with bad reviewers (don’t ever do that!). How do you adapt to the new landscape of buyer information overload? You revise the sales cycle.
Some corporations have become keen on the notion of upselling to their current clients (although in my opinion, far too few have), but your clients aren’t there just to buy your products. They are a stakeholder in your company; if they grow, you grow. It’s time we focus more on our clients and nurture them into being fans of not only our service but also our company.
New sales cycles focus on the current client to build that relationship, making the client into more than just a purchaser. You turn them into a brand evangelist.
CLIENTS: THE BEST SALES TOOL YOU WILL EVER HAVE
First, you must deliver a product or service they can’t live without—one they preferably live and breathe. Second, you must give them a community they feel like they’re part of and a sense that their voice is heard. You don’t know how many clients I have won because their previous provider didn’t listen to their feedback or feature requests. Once their client satisfaction has gained “fan” status, it’s time to cultivate that relationship and turn the client into a brand evangelist.
WHAT IS A BRAND EVANGELIST?
A Brand Evengelist are your loyal clients who will tell everyone they know about how much they love your company and product. They will sing your praises on social media, on forums, at trade shows, and in their network of professionals or peers. Brand Evangelists create leads for you just by talking about what you have done for them! This is also where a great referral program comes into play. You need to let them know how much you appreciate their fervor and reward them for it.
BRAND AMBASSADOR PROGRAMS: FORMALIZING FANDOM
Many of the world’s most popular brands utilize a brand ambassador program allowing them to create awareness and acquire new customers. Here are some tips to help you get started building a successful brand ambassador program.
Begin by defining what you’re trying to do: Do you want to build brand awareness? Do you want to create more content for your social media, website, and blog? Do you want to reach more leads? Whatever your goals may be, make sure they fit with your business goals and are clear to all participants. Staying focused as you emphasize new marketing strategies to your ambassadors and clearly organizing the program so expectations are clear will make all the difference.
Invite the Right People
It’s about quality, not quantity. The best brand ambassadors are passionate people who don’t get defensive or angry easily. They are active in social communities. Once you have identified a group of candidates, build a template of questions for the invitation and announce the program in a client newsletter. Some sample questions include: Why would you make a good ambassador? What kinds of ambassador activities would you like to get involved in (blogging, hosting in-home events, tweeting, pins, etc.)? What is your favorite service/ product from our brand and why is it your favorite? Tell us a story about a good experience with our brand. How has our company affected your organization?
Giving up Some Control
It can be scary, but you must give up a little control when launching a brand ambassador program. You can make the guidelines clear and emphasize the role of the participants, but if a little creativity isn’t allowed, you’ll miss out on a lot of good stuff.
If you’re trying to control every step of what your ambassadors do and say, you will lose the passion, and that will be evident to prospects as a lack of genuine feeling. They start to feel scripted.
Value is Always Relative
Always remember that value is relative to the individual. In the scenario of a brand ambassador, this person has just said, “I just love your product so much that I will spend time on your behalf doing stuff because I want you to succeed.”
It’s often an immediate response to think, “How much do we pay them?” This can be insulting to the client. Have the value props for their time and energy already laid out. It is wise to have five options and give each ambassador the opportunity to choose the three they prefer.
Some examples of value compensation include:
- New product/service feature releases before the public release.
- Invitations to a VIP event.
- Public recognition and directory listing for advisory council.
- Monetary compensation (either quarterly or annual).
- Discounts on products/services.
- Reciprocal lead generation.
A brand ambassador program can be an effective way to deliver lots of goodwill, create great case studies, and get prospect introductions.
It doesn’t have to be super exhausting if you follow the steps and have the right application to measure and manage the program.