How to build an army of brand advocates

“In sales, a referral is the key to the door of resistance.”

– Bo Bennett

In the United States, word-of-mouth research company Keller Fay recently highlighted the fact that consumers engage in a brand conversation nearly one trillion times a year.

The research company also states that 80% of consumers trust recommendations from family, friends and “influential” persons. In light of such compelling research, there’s never been a better time to review how your retail brand is sparking conversations and how you can encourage referrals from your own brand advocates, thus building your business fitness and sales.

Like friendship, brand advocacy has to be earned. In a way, brands need to consider becoming the kind of friend they would like to have themselves in order to stimulate action and become fitter businesses.

Friends work at building meaningful relationships

Position yourself as your customers’ reliable problem-solver and, as you would with a friend, only communicate and make relevant offers based upon your profound understanding of them.

Friends are trustworthy, honest and reliable

In 2011, Ebeltoft Group conducted global research, the goal of which was to assess why some retailers manage to bond with their customers in difficult economic times whilst others easily lose market share and customers. The results proved the value of trust and the resulting increase in recommendations of a retailer amongst shoppers. The strongest driver of trust is reliability and the absolute fulfilment of customers’ expectations.

Friends have the uncanny ability to predict what you need

Have you ever been told that a good friend knows you better than you know yourself? Indeed, they seem to be able to predict what you want even before you knew you needed it and a truly fit brand will make the effort to know their customer so well that they can predict their needs. Given 85% of consumer decision-making is subconscious; the need to understand your consumer personalities and their subconscious drivers is paramount. New multi-science approaches to understanding customer motives, such as our Limbic® offering, will enable you to cater to your right consumer personalities and guarantee the building of an army of brand advocates.

Friends listen to you and make it clear they care

After experiencing your products or service, how many of you take the time to ask your customers what they think and then act on their feedback? Exceptional customer service and listening to feedback will send customers away happy and pave the way for advocacy and repeat business.  

Friends are as loyal to you as you are to them

No matter how busy you are as a business, you should always make the time to keep in touch with your customers and reward their loyalty by making them offers and keeping them informed in a way that’s most relevant to them. In return, your customers will respond and reward you with appropriate positive conversations, referrals and purchases.

Friends know the right way to keep in touch with you

Understanding your audience drivers and the best way to communicate individually with them allows you to build deeper and more meaningful relationships. If 90% of the conversations are indeed happening offline – make sure you consider all communication avenues when building your “word-of-mouth” strategy.

As a retail business, every customer you possess is precious and the need to act like the friend you would want to have is the best way to build trust amongst them thus increasing the size of your brand advocate army and becoming a fitter and friendlier retailer.

Happy fit retailing!

Brian Walker is Managing Director of Australasia’s leading retail consultancy, Retail Doctor Group .

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