Helping brands earn fans
Customer Marketing | Employee Engagement
Whether you're a musician, new startup or an established enterprise, you have customers who are responsible for your endeavor's income.
Those customers are your best sales and marketing team as well as your best source of income growth. But only if you provide them opportunities to benefit from a relationship with you.
Like engaging employees to cultivate internal brand ambassadors and the kind of company culture you want, when you build a similar relationship with your customers you can expect similar results.
However, in both cases you have to be human in your interactions -- these are people you're dealing with, not just numbers on a spreadsheet or assets. That means you have to have good emotional intelligence and provide value to get value.
This is not the time to ask your best customers for favors. Present them opportunities that appeal to their ability to achieve their own personal and professional success. Opportunities that also help your organization -- a true, transparent, win-win.
This can be done at scale with various advocate marketing platforms (Influitive for enterprise level businesses, VIP Crowd for SMBs). These kinds of platforms help you continuously stay engaged with your customers and help them want to stay engaged with you.
You might think of it a bit like a dedicated social network for your customers -- a place to consistently provide your customers content and activities that are relevant to their role as they use your products or services. Because the experience is individualized, by engaging, customers gain relevant industry education, opportunities to network with professional peers and get recognition for their successes while having all sorts of opportunities to provide their unique feedback on (and therefore, have some level of ownership in) the next iteration of your product or service.
There is gamification involved, which is fun and initially sparks action from your customers to engage, but I've found that they stick around because there are more intrinsic values that resonate with the customers once they've started to engage. Those intrinsic values are presented by opportunities that appeal to the customer first, and your company second.
What advocate marketing platforms really come down to is building a reciprocal, healthy relationship with your customers. One that is a win-win, benefiting both parties. You know, like a partnership.
This kind of partnership, is what will extend the lifetime value of your customers. Instead of only having customers that buy one time and leave in a year, you can help keep those customers for several years and even have them interested in add-on purchases from you (this is where current customer growth can happen at scale). However, these things have to be cultivated over time, and you have to remember you're dealing with humans, not assets or numbers. That means you have to want to build real, meaningful, professional relationships.
What's really interesting about this concept to me is that it can be applied to just about any business, and you don't have to have an advocate marketing platform to accomplish some level of this.
Even though I'm a marketer, I'm also, and always have been, a working musician, as such, I keep in touch with those who follow my writings and music -- fans (my customers) -- regularly. Primarily, I do this through an email newsletter that provides exclusive content to my readers that I don't publish elsewhere online.
I try to pack valuable pieces of information in those newsletters that can be useful to the individual humans (fans) who subscribe and consume it. The result is that over time we get to build a relationship and a rapport of sorts. Through opportunities for feedback I learn about my fans' preferences and their ideas for songs or additional products I create, and I take that feedback seriously and implement as much of it as I can to continue to provide my fans (customers) what they've shared they want and need.
The ultimate result, is having customers who have been cultivated over time to become your advocate because you've developed a relationship with them. They trust and believe in you, your business, product or service. Plus, you become their advocate for similar reasons, and thus, genuinely want to see their success because you care about them.
Did you know your customers can help you fix just about any business challenge you have?
Yup, it's true.
Along the journey of engaging your customers, if done well with the customers' interests in mind first and foremost above your own, the customer can and will help you solve most of your business issues.
Things you may not be thinking of related to the above stats are that not only are your current customers likely buying more from you over time, but if they love you, they’re referring others to you, and helping you to close new business as a genuine and credible reference customer.
If ever there was a silver bullet business growth strategy, it’s your current customers.
Are you a new business? Then hustle to get your first few customers and engage the heck out of them. Help them be successful in their business even if it seems a bit beyond the scope of what your products/services are designed to do.
Business is done by people. Be genuine, care about your company, your employees, your customers and their employees. Everyone needs to make a living to support themselves and their families – to live their lives in meaningful ways. If you put forth the effort, I can guarantee you that commercial karma will come back to you in spades.
What are you doing to engage your customers to be wildly successful with your products/services?
I was recently at an advocate marketing industry conference (Advocamp) where I saw David Spinks, CEO of CMX Media speak. He outlined some major trends and research around how isolation is more prevalent these days even though we are more connected than ever with the Internet.
The stats were astonishing. Loneliness has been proven to be as detrimental to an individual’s health as smoking or obesity. I personally related as being an isolated remote worker contributing to those statistics.
Isolation and mental health is not a new issue, but it's gaining more exposure lately, which is a good step toward improving it.
Even, marketer/entrepreneur extraordinaire, Gary Vaynerchuk, said, “Mental health needs to be the number one thing we talk about over the next 20 years. Mental Health is something we need to put on a pedestal and really start talking about…if you’re brain’s not right, nothing else is gonna work.” (check out DailyVee episode 341).
I have spent the better part of the last two years working remotely from my home.
While I love the autonomy of working the way I do I have found that the isolation, even though I talk to people via phone and online all day, is intense when not occupying the same physical space as other human beings.
This was making me irritable, obsessed about little things around the house being in the right place, and it was making me depressed, all of which was affecting my own well-being as well as my family's.
Today, I'm in a better place. Balance is key. I still work remotely. I am actually enjoying it more than ever, but there are some things I figured out that helped me turn the corner toward a more positive mindset to make working remotely work for me.
Being a creative professional, I often write in a journal to hone my craft, capture ideas, work out strategies for projects as well as distill my emotions.
At this point in my life, I have been journaling for nearly two decades and have multiple volumes of journals collected for posterity. Although I wasn't always journaling daily or specifically touching on things in my writing to purposely help improve my mindset, I did notice that in my spurts of regular writing through the years it often helped improve my mood. It was and is cathartic to get things out of my head and onto paper.
More recently I had come across a few articles that each mentioned James Pennebaker's research on the effects of expressive writing and keeping a journal.
The simple act of having a daily writing practice to allow one to reflect on what they've experienced and how they felt and how that kind of writing can improve one's mood, mindset and even immune health was inspiring to me.
This made me think of being more purposeful with my own journaling to improve my mental health as I continue to work from home. Eventually, I created a journaling framework to do just that.
It started out as a personal journaling system just for me, but I realized that maybe others could benefit from it as well.
Along with wanting to identify goals and track progress over time towards meeting those goals, I wanted to incorporate into my daily writing things that would help improve my mood beyond just the act of writing itself.
I found that identifying things I was grateful for as well as victories I accomplished towards my goals and acts of kindness that I had performed no matter how large or small served as a conscious reminder of good and positive things in my life that reflected my values and more of the way I wanted to live.
Over a short period of time this approach began to change my mindset and my mood. I felt like I had more energy, was more positive with my family and had a better outlook on each day.
That’s when I thought of a way to work into the framework of short daily prompts, a scoring system that easily allows one to track their color-coded mood (red, yellow, green) over time and identify trends of how they’re feeling to be informed and potentially change up daily habits, or continue daily habits that are working, to positively affect one’s overall mood.
This solution is a simple, low-tech, high-result journal called the GrowLoop Journal that can potentially increase one’s productivity and health for less than $20.
I’m not saying it’s the only, or even the best solution, but it’s an extremely affordable place to start for those in creative fields, those who work remotely and are fighting isolation, those who wish to reduce their anxiety and stress, or even professionals looking to up their game (when in a positive state of mind, it’s easier to achieve success).
I can see not only individuals using this, but entire work teams who are striving for a more positive company culture promoting health (physical and mental) as well as productivity and personal/professional development…essentially humans trying to be better humans.
This journaling system, along with some needed time spent among other working humans in a coffee shop, has helped to improve my mood and productivity.