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Word-of-mouth marketing is an effective sales tactic. Yet, cultivating enthusiastic brand ambassadors is a nuanced art. Six accomplished entrepreneurs and members of The Oracles share their top strategies for creating ambassadors who are so excited about your brand, they do the selling for you.
Exceed service expectations
Customer service is how companies supply, meet or exceed customer expectations. Excellent service can win lifetime loyalty; poor service can create a one-time customer.
Executives tout the importance of customer service from their ivory towers but often forget how to attract customers to begin with. Most products aren’t “must-buys.” Only by exceeding expectations can you win customers and close deals.
Turn your customers into brand ambassadors by getting them results. Reward customer participation with giveaways. Craft engaging social media posts that fans can share. I’ve built an army of brand ambassadors by delivering a great product, closing people on it, then keeping them engaged by staying omnipresent, so I’m always at the top of their mind. I then ask my customers to share information about me with their circle of influence. Remember, you won’t get what you don’t ask for.
Cultivate an inspired culture
For an individual to love your brand, you have to treat them like more than a point of sale; they must connect with you at a level where they want to “live your brand.” Creating an inspired culture starts with clearly communicating why your company exists and how people will be better because of it. People who engage with my company want to develop physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to reach their potential in the service of others. They know they’re capable of more; we show them how, for example on a 50+ hour crucible event modeled after the U.S. Navy SEALs “Hell Week.”
Create a culture that leaves your clients and your team feeling like they’re better humans for having interacted with you. Share a vision of how you can help them manifest their future goals. Treat everyone as you would want to be treated: with respect and trust. Be honest about your limitations, upfront about your strengths and vulnerabilities, and trust will flourish.
Remember that building brand ambassadors is not about trying to create that magical viral video; rather, it’s about building heart-centered relationships one person at a time. The strength of your company comes from the individual bond first, then through the numbers.
Transform your customers into heroes
A brand ambassador should be enriched, educated or made to look good with their friends and family because of your business.
What are you doing to transform your customers into heroes for your business? Think about their desires and how your solution bridges the gap.
Once you have a core group of fans, use gamification — which synthesizes the best ideas from gaming, loyalty programs, and behavioral economics — to spread the word and reward engagement.
I worked with a retail startup that failed to reward or incentivize their brand ambassadors. The ambassadors fell away and the brand went out of business.
Conversely, when working at a FinTech startup, we wanted to increase engagement around our user event. We used a platform called Influitive to reward our attendees with points for interacting with the newsfeed. We gave away a T-shirt for every 1,500 points accrued. Our followers surged from 10 to 5,000 users.
Adults still love games, so you should gamify anything you can think of. People will participate because everyone likes free stuff, and who doesn’t want to win?
Share a feeling
As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” To organically generate ambassadors for your brand, it’s all about creating a feeling.
Make it your business to motivate and inspire people. When people use your service to achieve a goal, celebrate their success with them. Encourage your fans in thoughtful, authentic ways that make them feel included. If you give people that kind of support, they can’t help but talk about it!
For example, our customers are often stepping into the exciting world of “Knowledge Commerce,” or selling what they know online. We not only encourage them in our Facebook group, but we also created a program to reward them with T-shirts, hats or jackets with each level of achievement. Their success is our success, and when they win, we’re just as, if not more, excited for them.
Offer a unique experience
One of my friends owns a branding company. When we needed to rebrand my company, his team not only provided names but also colors, logos and online search information — all at a third of the price of two other companies we had worked with before. His team over-delivered and created such a unique experience, I couldn’t wait to recommend him to other companies.
Offer something unique with your business. We created a program that helps employees identify their personal and professional goals, which we help them achieve — even if it means leaving the company. The program targets six pillars of personal development: wealth, health, happiness, relationships, career and time off. Employees then receive one-on-one mentorship from a full-time coach, online training (ranging from how to build a website to paying off debt), and live events. Employees are happier, perform better, and turnover has fallen from 24 percent to 4 percent. Create a unique experience for your people, and you’ll stand out from the crowd.
Love what you do
The trick to creating raving fans is: There is no trick! If you love what you do, do it well, and most importantly, show people that you care, then they will naturally want to tell their friends and family about your product or service.
In Oprah Winfrey’s 2013 Harvard University Commencement speech, she said that in 25 years of conducting 35,000 interviews with world leaders and influencers, there was one common thread across human existence: the need to be understood and validated. If you make your clients or customers feel understood through a particular product or validated by your service, they will want to share their experience with others.
—Nafisé Nina Hodjat, founder and managing attorney of The SLS Firm