A prospect acting as brand advocate by telling others how great a brand is.

How to make your prospects want to be customers: the truth about advocacy.

It’s not just customers who can be brand advocates, but those who want to be customers too.

August 10, 2017

Word of mouth is the best form of marketing, there’s no doubt about it. And when I say word-of-mouth, don’t take it too literally as these days it extends beyond the water cooler, garden fence and networking event as social media makes it almost too easy for someone to build or break your brand in one single emoticon.

It’s our job, as business owners and marketers, to make it ridiculously easy for people to want to be our customers. We’re not just talking prospects here either, we’re talking influencers and the wider business community too.

It's our job to make it ridiculously easy for people to want to be our customers. Click To Tweet

In this post, we’re going to look at what advocacy really means and how you can make almost anyone, including your prospects, a brand advocate.

Ditch the customer lifecycle model.

Temporarily, for the sake of brand advocacy. You’re probably familiar with the customer lifecycle funnel, or sales funnel. If not here it is:

A typical sales funnel.
A typical sales funnel.

So, at the top we have a wide universe of potential customers. Then we choose some to target, some of these jump some marketing hurdles and move into the sales process, become customers and at this stage we try to convert them into brand advocates by giving them great products and great service.

This is just a simple way of looking at it. In reality, people bounce through the stages in their own unique way and speed before opting out or coming through at the bottom.

But wait, do you really have to be a customer to be an advocate?

I don’t think so.

Let’s think about it. Look at all the brands you admire and think: would you ever realistically become a customer?

Sorry to dash your dreams.

But you might know people who could be their customer and you might talk to them about how you admire that particular brand. So you’re still an influencer.

Do you really have to be a customer to be an advocate? Click To Tweet

How many brands do you advocate without being an actual customer?

I love tech. I love playing with new marketing software and seeing how it can improve my work. But am I ever really going to become a Hubspot, SEMRush, Moz, Sendible, Coschedule, Grammarly, and MeetEdgar customer?

I fall under the ‘prospect’ category for all of these brands and sure, I’d love to be their customer because I know they’re great at what they do and I connect with their brands. So I am a prospect who is also a brand advocate. Surely prospects like this are the easiest to convert into customers?

Because I already know and love these brands, when the time is right I just hop right on board.

I’m in the top half of the funnel and I tell others how great I think they are.

I can do this because these brands have educated me on their offering in a way that’s easy for me to understand and repeat. They have given me the opportunity to try their products out and provide me with resources on a regular basis that help me to do my job. I tell others about this too.

When people ask for recommendations others are quick to share their thoughts. Sometimes it’s face-to-face and other times on LinkedIn or Twitter.

The beauty is that on these social media platforms the review is seen, liked and shared. It lives on. The flip side is that the same goes for negative reviews.

Make it easy for people to be your advocates.

There are some really basic things you can do to make it easy for people to say wonderful things about your business.

It starts with thinking about your business from the outside, in. That’s where your influencers are standing.

Engage your employees in your business.

Employ people who genuinely believe in your brand and already embody your values.

Employ people who genuinely believe in your brand and already embody your values. Click To Tweet

If your employees don’t believe in your business, find out why. There are probably things you can do to fix, or at least improve the situation. This is about being a great employer. It’s also about corporate citizenship.  Review your vision, mission and values as a business and give employees the opportunity to influence these and understand how they apply to their roles.

This is about being a great employer. It’s also about corporate citizenship.  Review your vision, mission and values as a business and give employees the opportunity to influence these and understand how they apply to their roles.

Review your vision, mission and values as a business and give employees the opportunity to influence these and understand how they apply to their roles.

It’s not just about employees feeling great about your business but what they say to others too.

Review your customer experience.

This includes every customer touch point there is.

Yes, I know that’s a lot.

Think marketing and sales processes, onboarding, customer support, finance, contracts, offboarding. It’s enough to keep anyone busy but delivering a great customer experience is sure to have customers (and the people they talk to) speaking highly of you.

You can prioritise these by looking through your complaints and working on those known problem areas first. This is also an opportunity for a positive PR piece when you tell customers (and those who left) about what you’ve done to make their lives easier.

Give brand advocates content to engage with.

Even people who want to be your advocates need a little help.

  • Develop shareable content and put it out on social media to make it easy for your advocates to spread your message for you.
  • This might be entertaining, like a branded online game at Christmas, or useful content like a checklist, infographic or how-to-video. Send this content personally to your brand advocates – those who actively engage with your brand on social media, not just your followers.
  • Give extra business cards and flyers to contacts to make it easy for them pass on your details and refer new business to you.
  • Think of ways to easily explain what your business does and for whom, maybe using analogies. This is particularly key for technical businesses. If it’s easy enough for others to understand and repeat it then they will.

You’re always on show.

Your website is always live, your social media is turned on and anyone who interacts with your brand is also continually connecting with other people.

Finding your values and living them, as an organisation, makes it easy for people to speak positively about you.

I want to be a Virgin Atlantic customer, but I’m not (yet!). I’ll still share their content and talk positively about them though because it’s a brand I connect with. Now, how can you make it easy for others to do the same for you?

Other articles you may be interested in:

Why you need to know your business’ why.

How to write your marketing plan on just one page.

Are you giving customers what they really, really want?