How many of your customers really love what you do? Would they want to help keep your business growing rather than watch it decline? If you have great customers, why not harness their satisfaction and turn them into ambassadors to try and win more business?
Turning to the tried and tested
In difficult times we all become more nervous about investing in new suppliers and advisers. Fear of the unknown and the possibility of things going wrong, make us wary to try out someone new. Recommendations help us reduce this risk. Now, more than ever, your ambassadors should be a major feature of your marketing and sales approach. But how can you build on that goodwill of theirs, whilst also making it worthwhile for them in the process?
Don’t be afraid to ask
There are many ways customers support their suppliers and advisers. The right way for your business will depend on each individual one and the relationship you have with your key contacts there. Many businesses are a little shy when it comes to drumming up customer support to help them win more business. But if you’ve done a great piece of work for a client or customer, if using your products or services makes their lives easier, then why not ask if they’d be happy to act as an ambassador for you in some way? You can then discuss the type of support they’d be comfortable with.
Popular ambassadorial activities
Here are some examples which you might want to consider with them:
- Giving references, recommendations or testimonials. These can take many shapes and forms from speaking directly with a potential customer you put in touch with them (do give your ambassador warning), writing something for your website, passing comment in relevant press or websites, or posting a recommendation on the new business social networking sites such as Linked In.
- Appearing in case studies that you author (be it hard copy, digital or video-based) that can be used in the marketing to potential customers or clients and support the selling process.
- Contributing or co-authoring articles with you in the press you want to target.
- Co-presenting with you in new business pitches, presentations, seminars, marketing events or at conferences.
- Seeking out potential customers or identifying key contacts in their own network ,who would benefit from your products or services too
- Participating in joint ventures, where there is an area of mutual benefit or synergy between the two of you
- Inviting you to their promotional events and giving you networking opportunities with their customers, clients or contacts
What’s in it for them?
In considering an area where an ambassador can help your business, it’s important to think ‘what’s in it for them?’ You have to make the act of endorsing you worth their while, if you are to secure their long-term support and encouragement.
Each customer contact you have will be very different in their motivation to get involved and support your business. Only you can really say what would stimulate them to put in a good word or help secure a new customer for you. If you are unsure, spend some time with them to find out. Don’t be afraid to ask what would be an attractive return for them in acting as an ambassador for you and your business.
For some, it may just be the continuity of having a good supplier and your long-term prosperity. Others may be motivated by some form of reward – commission, gifts or recognition (personal fame or having their profile raised to a specific audience). Could you in turn help them win more business in some way? Are there opportunities in your own network that could mean reciprocity will be reward enough?
A fine example
Fresh Face is a photography firm we know, who are very active in building a multitude of ambassadors. The clients who use their portrait photography services each receive half a dozen vouchers to pass on to family and friends when they take delivery of their portraits. The vouchers are individually tailored with a picture of them from the photography session, which demonstrate the quality of the work. Not only are their family and friends given a discounted studio fee, the client receives £20 for each family/friend who subsequently books a session. The quality of Fresh Face’s work and the customer service experience they give is of such a high standard that people are very comfortable to recommend them to others. Over time referrals and word of mouth have come to contribute a large portion of the company’s new business.
Never let them down
And there lies the final point in activating your ambassadors. You must never, ever let them down or indeed let down anyone they refer to you. You need to continually delight them with the quality of your product/service delivery. You also need to find the right reward to motivate their support in helping you grow your business. Only then can you ensure you have plenty of goodwill in the bank and a steady stream of new business opportunities, which suddenly become easier to win.
About the Author: Michelle Daniels, Managing Director – Extended Thinking
An experienced and effective business development and marketing strategist, Michelle has built a successful career increasing top line growth for service businesses and organisations. She helps her clients turn their marketing, business development and thought leadership plans into reality with her ‘hands on’ support and practical advice. A prolific writer, Michelle also combines creative flair with business nous to produce highly effective results. She has written (and ghostwritten) for many professional and business publications and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and professional services marketing group.
Extended Thinking is a hands-on marketing and business development consultancy. Bringing together great minds and great ‘doers’, we help our clients devise and implement plans that achieve real business growth. Our clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors, but invariably are those who are too busy or lack the resources to action their marketing and business development plans. We roll our sleeves up and muck in to free them up to do what they really want to do and are good at doing.