By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter
Let’s face it, in an ideal world we’d all want our customers to love us! We all know that’s not going to happen, but I’ll bet you might have more advocates for your brand than you think.
Why are brand advocates important? Studies show that people rely on peer recommendations and reviews before purchasing goods. Contractors are no different, especially if you’re introducing a new product or application they haven’t used or seen before. They certainly don’t want to be the first to try something.
Brand advocates are more than loyal customers. They are your ambassadors in the trades. I’ve seen contractors with tattoos of company logos. That to me is the ultimate.
Some brand advocates will surface on their own by commenting on your blog or website several times or talking you up on an online forum. Others might offer positive comments on a survey or warranty card. Don’t forget to ask your sales staff in the field who are calling on contractors, as well as your customer service department. They certainly should be able to identify a few. Hopefully a few will be high-profile folks within some associations that you are a part of.
One of our clients in the plumbing market was able to identify and nurture several advocates over the years. Once they brought the top 10 contributors into the main office and treated them like royalty for two days and then sent them home. They got a plant tour, a look at what was coming down the line as new products and met with customer service and technical people that they interface with on a regular basis on the phone or with emails. You wouldn’t believe the results of that effort. They became ambassadors on steroids!
Once you’ve found them, then what? You should set up a brand advocacy program that will give them ways to help you grow the brand. Here are a few ideas:
- Ask them to write testimonials or reviews on new products. Then ask them to share them.
- See if they would be willing to do a case history for you.
- If timing permits and you can meet them at an association meeting or trade show, see if they would let you interview them both for a podcast and testimonial video.
- Ask them for referrals.
- Have them test and evaluate new products before they are brought to market.
- Have them identify potential new products.
This needs to be an ongoing effort so you’re always adding new advocates to keep the message current and fresh.
Don’t miss a golden opportunity for your customers to help sell your brand.