More often than not, today’s consumers want to hear about new products and services from those who have tested them rather than those who are selling them. This means that your brand’s strongest marketing tool is your existing customers. User testimonials can be leveraged in sales pitches, media placements, advertisements and more to demonstrate your brand’s value in a way that resonates with audiences. Not to mention, the process of collecting such stories has the power to strengthen your relationships with customers, who will feel appreciated when asked to be a part of your PR efforts.
To help brands build and execute impactful customer programs, we recently published the e-book 5 Ways to Turn Your Customers into Brand Ambassadors, which details how companies can effectively transform their customers into brand advocates to influence their prospects. Here are the key takeaways:
Proactively Define Expectations
The time to turn a customer into a brand ambassador—or at least negotiate the possibility—is when you first sign them on. Aim high with your asks for involvement in media opportunities, including full participation for quotes, testimonials, case studies, blog posts and Q&As, as you can always then scale back to what the customer is comfortable with. To further encourage participation, be sure to also articulate how, by going on the record as a user of your innovative products or services, they will in turn be spotlighted as forward-thinkers with their own cutting-edge business operations. This helps them understand why helping you also helps themselves.
Engage the Sales Team
To ease and expedite the process of sourcing customer success stories, leverage the relationships sales staff already have with clients. Customers will be more receptive to participating in media opportunities if they are first presented by a familiar face.
To best position your sales force for this task, you need to educate them on what makes a customer use case pitch worthy. Part of this involves articulating how creating customer brand ambassadors is also in their best interest—not just the overall company’s—as these stories will speak volumes to prospective customers and help lock down future sales. Don’t forget to remind them that technological bells and whistles are much less interesting to the media (and sales prospects) than the real-world benefits that these bells and whistles deliver.
Conduct a Customer Survey
For those customers who are adamant about remaining out of the spotlight, opt for an anonymous or blind survey to gather data on the value of your products or services in a way that doesn’t put them off your brand. If the findings from these surveys are interesting, you can integrate them into media coverage, blog posts or social media. In order to maximize their impact, you should connect the survey results to current news or industry trends. The benefit of presenting branded surveys in the media is twofold: it showcases the value of the brand’s products or services while also asserting the expertise of company personnel, positioning them as industry leaders.
Create a Customer Advisory Board
Building meaningful relationships with customers warrants a considerate level of attention, which is why you should elect customer advisory boards to facilitate and nurture those relations. Customers will feel their business is valued knowing there is a team designated to hearing out their feedback.
And while treating customers like thought leaders will make them feel appreciated and encourage further company participation, the feedback they give can provide your brand with valuable insight on its products and services, effectively identifying areas for improvement while highlighting the companies’ strong points. Especially now, as consumers everywhere combat the fallout from the coronavirus, hearing out customer needs—as well as the areas in which they feel supported by your brand—is a critical step for sustaining thoughtful customer relationships.
Don’t Forget the C-Suite
It’s important that customer engagement efforts aren’t limited to the sales team, as employees at all levels of the organization may find opportunities for collecting impactful customer testimonials. Getting your brand’s C-suite to cooperate will promote this engagement and increase the odds of sourcing impactful feedback. C-suite executives themselves should also act as ambassadors, sharing key messaging and value propositions internally and externally and promoting customer successes as a demonstration of all that their brands can deliver.
If your brand is looking to improve its industry standing or raise the public’s awareness of its offerings, look towards your existing customers for help in these efforts. Persuasive customer testimonials can greatly bolster any content you produce by offering audiences personable insight into your brand’s products or services, and the work you put into sourcing them can make your customer relationships that much stronger. For more tips on transforming your customers into brand ambassadors, read the full ebook here—and be sure to check out some of our other great brand resources while you’re there!