Five Ways To Profit From Brand Advocates

futurelab default header

As companies strive to improve their customer experience, the desire to do more than satisfy customers is becoming increasingly important. 

But at the same time it is remarkable how few companies have a programme in place to capture the profits of turning someone into a brand advocate. This is an expensive oversight. It leaves companies with the investment for improving their customers’ experiences. But they miss out on the (financial) returns this generates.

So as a quick checklist, I have jotted down a few suggestions the ways to maximally profit from your brand advocates.

1. Don’t forget to make that special sale

Typically, brand promoters are the most profitable clients around. They buy more, do it more often and stay loyal for longer periods of time. They are easier to cross- and upsell. They negotiate less. They’re easier to service in case things go wrong. In other words, they represent the dream customer.

But in their desire for uniform systems and experiences many brands give them exactly the same commercial treatment as any other customer walking through the door. But by omitting to offer tailored deals, upsells, or renewals, these brands leave money on the table. That is, if they can tell who among their customers are promoters in the first place.

Remarkable: in a recent project, a company found that by tailoring “one” aspect of their sales approach to promoters in “one” European country, they could generate double-digit millions in extra annual revenue. Before, they didn’t get that money simply because “they didn’t ask”.

2. Integrate their voice into your media mix

Another aspect of promoters is that they are often willing to recommend their friends to purchase your brand. But even those companies which have correctly implemented a recommendation based Voice-of-the-Customer approach (e.g. Net Promoter System), often forget to encourage the customers who said they would recommend, to actually do so.

This is not about harassing your promoters for a list of all their friends and family members (an occasional request can be often OK). It does mean setting up communities where existing customers talk to new potential buyers about their experiences. Introducing customer testimonials into your sales process. And most importantly, creating stories and content that help your advocates have more interesting conversations with their friends. Because if you don’t add value to their conversations, they won’t talk about you in the first place.

Remarkable: a medical equipment company we worked for found that by including promoter testimonial videos in their approach to potential hospital clients, significantly increased their chances for being considered in a tender.

3.  Learn from what you got right

You don’t get people to become promoters for your brand by merely satisfying them. Every time someone scores you a 10 on the recommendation scale, someone, somewhere in your business has done something unique. Has touched a customer’s heart and mind in a way that pushed her beyond satisfaction.

But while many companies rigorously track and follow up on customer experience mistakes they have made, they forget to track these moments that the business gets it right.  

That’s why it’s important to also establish a closed loop system that tracks what your business did every time it creates a promoter and runs tests to see if doing the same to other customers creates the same outcome. This way you and your people can bring your business to an ever higher level…

Remarkable: when asking its customers about their key reasons for promotion, a company we worked with ended up co-creating their complete new sales literature together with these customers. This led to a completely revised service proposition and even an updated brand promise.

4. Get your people to work for more than money

Somehow, somewhere, each of us wants to make a difference. This doesn’t need to be a big difference. Very often, helping someone or making them smile may add a sense of purpose to our day. It simply makes us feel good, beyond the money we may have earned.

In a business context, there is usually not much room for this type of talk. Meetings get filled with improvement efforts and if there’s good news to be had, it’s usually because the company beat a KPI or reduced costs. No one talks about the customer’s success.

This while the comments promoters make about a business are a true treasure trove of positivity. Unleashing them throughout the business can truly energise the workforce and – for the number crunchers – reduce absenteeism, increase focus and boost productivity.

Remarkable: a life insurance company we worked with regularly informed their staff about the ways they cared about their customers. This programme got so successful that the staff proactively started looking for new opportunities to care, organically leading to new products, and profits.

5.  Don’t forget your own people

When talking about promoters, most companies talk about the people out there. However, by making sure that the company’s employees and suppliers also become promoters, companies can capture significant reputation and commercial gains. 

Each of us – on average – directly influences our tribe of 150 people, who each in turn have 150 contacts. This means that one employee can affect the opinion of up to 22,500 people, and – in a gentle way – help them become customers of your brand. They probably will do it at only a fraction of the time. But the total number is a good reminder to make sure that your own people are actually promoters of your brand and that it’s worthwhile to give them the tools to promote it.

Remarkable: an Austrian company we worked with decided to map the influence of their direct workforce in the country. Effectively, only by looking at the network of their employees, they touched 100% of the country’s population.  

This article was first published in 2015