Making Advocates

When your business creates advocates, you get a very special kind of customer. This customer will be your biggest fan, they will remain loyal to your brand, they’ll engage with you online regularly, they’ll be the first to try all your new products, and they will recommend you at every opportunity.

Lot’s of businesses have regular customers, but advocates are more than that. A regular customer might recommend you if they are asked, but an advocate will go out of their way to encourage others to use you. Regular customers often change their habits, they won’t stay loyal even at the best of times either. They’ll have a few favourite businesses that you’ll always be competing with.

When the chips are down, they will also go out of their way to do business with you. During the pandemic, advocates went out of their way to support their favourite businesses. Some continued to pay, even though the business was closed. Some drove for miles for a takeaway meal. How awesome is that?

Where do I get an advocate?

If you are lucky you might already have a few! They are the people that buy from you often. They like your stuff just how it is, not like those clients that always put a note in the order comments! Advocates don’t ask for special treatment, alternative payment options, different colours, or flavours you don’t have. And, they always respond on social media, they share your news and love your photos.

If you don’t have anyone like this yet, that’s ok, there are a few ways you can find them.

Know your customer

Start by being clear about who your perfect customer is! And I’m not just talking about their demographics. Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne are the same age, live in a castle, are wealthy and divorced, but I’ll bet they both care about different stuff! Knowing what your business cares about and finding customers that share your passion is the first step. Once you are clear about your passions and pet hates, you make it so much easier it is for people to become your ambassador. If you try to appeal to different types of people you’ll end up with a vague message which is not the kind of things people shout about.

In my afternoon tea business I was passionate about a few things! First, an afternoon tea for two should have two of everything. You shouldn’t have to choose who get’s what cake! And second, no one should get the “big bit,” every piece should be the same size. For me these things are non-negotiable and this came across in my marketing. My clients shared these values, so they were happy to promote me to their friends. They trusted I had the same vision as they did.

Create Trust

Trust comes next. You have to be consistent in the product and service you offer to gain trust. If you are reliable with what you offer and how you offer it, your customers will be happy to keep coming back. They’ll also be happy to tell their friends. There is a food delivery near me that makes really great food. BUT, their delivery service is not dependable, at all. Occasionally they’ll get to you within the time frame quoted, but sometimes there will be massive delays, resulting in phone calls saying it’s on it’s way, when it isn’t, blah, blah, blah. It doesn’t always happen but it bothers me, and therefore I may go back but I’ll never recommend them to people I know, just in case!

It’s not good enough just to be consistent though, you have to be consistently good. This might mean changing the way you do things so you can always be on top with your service. What would it take to offer the best service or product? Less orders, more staff, a better ordering system, or something else?

How amazing would that be?

You need to really care

You need to care about what people think, and take action when things go wrong. I’m sure you do care, but when was the last time you sent out a feedback survey for your past clients and asked them what they really thought. Many customers don’t bother to get in touch if it’s 2-4 star feedback, but they will tell you if you ask. This data is valuable if you want to push people up to advocate status, 4 star reviewers are serious contenders for future advocacy.

You’ll also get some ideas about how you have actually helped people – things like: I loved that I could buy a gift for my mum during the night, or I loved that you had options for customisation, or that fact that they could use their credit card to buy and have fast delivery!

Once you know what your advocates are loving, you have something to put into your marketing strategy. If they loved it, so will others. So why not tell everyone about the amazing stuff you are doing?

Even just asking for feedback could convert an on-the fence-advocate, but also it will show up any existing advocates you didn’t even know you had. Anyone that answers 5 to the question “how likely are you to recommend us to your friends on a scale of 1-5” is already there. Pay particular attention to this feedback as they will tell you what they love, and they might give you clues as to what could cause them to go elsewhere.

Awesome customer experience

Awesome customer experience is not just about great customer service, although that’s part of it. It’s about the whole experience. From your shop front, the route to your store, your buying process, how easily information is found, payment methods, and any other steps that your customer goes through to use your business. If you spend time getting to know your ideal customer you’ll get clues about what they consider a pain free shopping experience.

But 67% of shoppers expect 24/7 service so get a website, go on Etsy or Amazon. If you decide on a website, make sure it is easy to navigate. People often quit websites that are hard to navigate. People also won’t recommend businesses they find awkward or inflexible to deal with, even if they will put up with it themselves. So consider a better selection of payment options and a simplified ordering system, that can be used day or night.

Know the problem you solve and solve it well!

Caroline, MBC

Once you know who your advocates are…

Once you have one, you’ll start getting more, and more. As long as you take care of them, that is. We tend to spend time with people that share the same values, so it makes sense that your advocates friends will be interested in the same stuff as them, making them perfect candidates for future advocates. Advocates breed advocates!

You must look after them though and treat them well. You must continue to offer the same consistent experience they fell in love with, but now with a personal touch. Get to know their name and their kids names, learn their favourite side orders, remember the important stuff and follow up. If they told you their granny was sick, ask after her. If they get a new puppy, ask to see pictures. You know the kind of thing.

Let me tell you about this great company…

People think loyalty programmes, such as Tesco’s Clubcard, create loyalty, but I’m not so sure. Tesco has their own agenda for their Clubcard, but it’s not just about loyalty. Imagine the excitement of swapping your points at Tesco for some free grocery items – exciting, huh? No, I much prefer spontaneous gift giving. How would you feel if Tesco showed up at your door one day with your grocery order, and a hand picked thank you gift from the store manager? Now, that’s worthy of a Facebook status update, at least!

What could you offer?

What could your business offer their customers as occasional thank you gifts? How about spontaneous upgrades, trial size products to try, an extra portion of their favourite side order, or just a basket of brownies! It doesn’t have to be much, but it should represent your business and values. Don’t send out value brand prosecco if you offer a premium service, for example.

Whatever it is, keep it honest, discreet and personal. If they get a whiff that you are trying to do anything other than thank them, it’ll backfire as a lame PR stunt. But, do make sure they know why they are getting the gift, it’ll feel like a special treat and not raise expectations for future orders.

Now you have a team of advocates…

The magic starts when advocates recommend you to new customers. They’ll tell them all about what you do, why it’s awesome, and how often they buy from you with confidence and glee! Normally, people that are new to your business have to go through a process of building trust in your product and brand, learning about your values, what you do and how it will help them. Advocates do all this for you, so your new customers skip straight to the purchase phase, and the checkout. They trust their friends opinion, so there is no need to go through the normal steps.

This is great for your sales, but it’s also great for your marketing budget too. With these ambassadors spreading the word you can concentrate on looking after them, and not spending money on advertising for new customers. How much money you’ll save varies but it will be between 5x and 25x cheaper to woo an advocate than find new clients. Even at their most conservative, these saving are not to be sniffed at!

How would your business benefit from a 1-1 with an experienced business adviser/coach?

Book a consultation with us now and we’ll help you figure this stuff out and make a strategy that is perfect for you!