ENewsletter - April 2018
Advocates or Influencers?

Back in the day, businesses were focused on how to turn their customers into advocates. Today, influencers are gaining marketer's attention.

Advocates are those who publicly support or promote a company, brand, product or service because they love it. Advocates don't seek compensation; they are enthusiastic brand ambassadors because they believe in the product or service.

Influencers now represent a form of marketing in which marketers place the focus on people who can influence others rather than on the target market itself. For the most part, influencers receive some sort of compensation, whether in the form of products, services or monetary compensation.

Finding Influencers

Step one is to understand your goals and what you want an influencer to accomplish. Once that's clear, there are search engines that can help you to find influencers for your market. Nielsen research shows that only 33% of consumers trust advertisers, while 90% trust referrals from others, even if they are people they don't know. (How many times do you check out a business on Yelp or read product or service reviews on company websites?)

Some established or celebrity influencers with large followings will cost you but it's also likely that you might find influencers that are appropriate for you that are less expensive or will trade services or products in exchange for their social or blog postings.

Creating Advocates

Are the steps to attract and retain loyal customers really any different? An influencer may not actually believe in your product or service, but still promote it to their followers. If you are not true to your brand promise, their followers may try it once, but will they become loyal customers?

Here are 7 old-school ways to attract and retain customers :

  1. Deliver what you promise. Do what you say you'll do.
  2. When something goes wrong, fix it. Give your customer-facing employees the ability to make it right - at your expense.
  3. Do good work. Whether you provide a product or service, when it works well, your customer looks better. Make sure they have positive stories to tell others about working with you.
  4. What challenges are your customers facing? The more you know about what keeps your customer up at night, the better you'll be able to offer solutions when they present themselves.
  5. Surprise and delight them. Now and then, for no reason, surprise your customer with a useful bit of information, a small gift, a thank you note - something they're not expecting that is not related to an order or project.
  6. Be an advocate for your customers. Tell your client's stories to others and find opportunities to bring them business.
  7. Connect customers with each other. Chances are that the clients you're working with have things in common. Perhaps they can be a good resource for each other or could do business with each other. Make introductions & connections when you see a fit.(LinkedIn is a great tool for this).

Whether your marketing strategy includes cultivating advocates, identifying influencers or both, it's always going to be important to clarify and clearly communicate your brand, and follow through on that promise to your customer.

Preparing to facilitate the Incentive Professional certification exam study session on behalf of IMA. We'll be at Engagement World in Galveston, TX on May 8th.
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