Customers WANT to advocate for you if they love you.
Just recently, I was chatting with a reporter about companies that create experiences so great, customers line up to spread the word about them. I mentioned one of my favorites, Moosejaw Mountaineering, and the reporter squealed “I have their flag on my office wall!”
Moosejaw, along with several other great companies, provide tools to help their customers advocate for them (like free flags for the asking.) But customers are fans and advocates only when it truly serves them. They will denounce their love for a brand that mistreats them or disappoints them.
The stakes are getting higher. Here’s why:
1. Customers Are Valuing Their Own Influence
Thanks to both the bogus “science” of defining “influencers” and the legit ways brands are finding those who love them, customers are recognizing their own value. They understand they have power not just with the voice they have with social media, but with the way companies of all kinds bend over backwards to reward the customers who are now seen as “high value.” Customers are aware their loyalty can be taken elsewhere, thank you very much.
2. Companies Are Missing the Real Rewards
Rewarding your best advocates should be a no brainer – but many companies miss the mark completely on what is truly rewarding to customers. Offering products they don’t want or discounts on meaningless things aren’t really rewards. Customers don’t feel rewarded by programs with strict limitations or ridiculous requirements. Take what’s happened with most airline loyalty programs. Customers don’t feel like they are being rewarded for loyalty. They feel they are playing a game AGAINST the airline instead of on behalf of them.
3. Content is Consumed Differently
This one is aimed at the B2B companies that provide exclusive content to their advocates. Offering a glossy report is not really a reward. B2B companies should be going out of their way to provide a personal and delightful surprise to those people who advocate for them. After all, they are the ones who refer new business and opportunities! Recognize your best advocates by providing behind-the-scenes content or inviting your best customers to special events about the topic they care about – their own business. Seeing another huge report come into the inbox is not a thank you. Content is being consumed in more visual and bite-size ways, and this DOES apply to B2B. People are still the ones taking the information in, unless we’ve reached the time of robots already.
It’s time to view your loyal customers and advocates as precious assets for your business. Consider the ways they help your business or brand. Now consider how your team of marketers and sales people just have to sit back and not screw it up for them. There is very little investment needed to stoke the flame of customer advocacy. But you need to pay attention. Otherwise, their days of singing your praises will be numbered.
And nothing stings like seeing your ex with a new flame. Your loyal advocates could go where they are appreciated, which might be with your competitor.