At your fingertips, right at this very moment, you have a dream-team marketing department capable of taking your company to the next level.
You won’t find this department within your company walls--this department is made up of your customers. Just one problem: You can’t fire anyone in this department. So, you better make sure their experiences with your brand are positive ones, because they hold more power than any internal marketing initiative you can ever implement.
People prefer peer recommendations 92 percent of the time, versus traditional ads, which they trust 70 percent of the time. Here are some ways to be sure your customers--your marketers--are giving your business peer power.
Listen to Those Who are In The Know
Consumers have intel that you don’t and insights that you crave. All too often, owners live within the business bubble and don’t listen to people who use their products or services regularly. Customers have first-hand insight into how users perceive your business. The adage is true: perception is reality. Closely monitor your social networks, email a survey, and here’s a novel idea that gets lost these days--ask customers for their opinions while you are face-to-face. Look closely for consistent types of feedback, and act on that. Develop a strategic plan that identifies what to deliver, and how to deliver what your customers are seeking.
Create Reasons to Spark Conversations
You need to amplify brand advocacy. Experiences built upon the consumer/brand value exchange create a spark that ignites a fire. And, it’s the consumer that serves as the fuel, that will get the masses talking. In order to develop the highest-octane gas, focus your efforts on consumer passion points. Find out what really interests and drives your consumers to LOVE your business. Is it convenience? Price?Rewards? Perks? Service? Social causes?
Connect the Values
Exploit these consumer passion points in places where your customers consume information--social networks, events, newsletters, email blasts, etc. Focusing on consumer passion points in a comfortable, reliable setting provides a unique selling proposition which acts as the oxygen to keep the fire blazing. It also provides the coveted two-way value exchange where both brands and consumers give and receive. The point at which the consumer value (being heard, entertained, rewarded, connected) and brand value (awareness, consideration, loyalty, advocacy) connect is what triggers the most impactful experiences.
Show AND Tell
Experience-driven content drives sales. According to Keller Fay Group, a respected research firm, 83 percent of word-of-mouth involves personal experiences. So, using the passion points data you’ve collected, give consumers an actual taste of what you provide through an exchange they will find most enticing. Show them, don’t just tell them about what makes your brand worthy of their attention and advocacy. In today’s social-driven business world, owners often forget about the absolute beauty of hand-to-hand connectivity. Whether it is in-store, at a convention, at a community event, or at a pro game, present to them, no matter if it is a product or service, exactly what people are talking about or will be talking about. Be clear with your messaging, provide an engaging environment, and, of course, invite attendees to share their experience via their social networks. In-person event experiences and social marketing work very well together.
So, you can’t fire the largest marketing department you ever had, but, if you do things right, why would you ever want to? Work your customers the way your work your internal departments, and you’ll have an army of devotees with the loudest, most far-reaching online and offline megaphones.