Category Archives: Brand Advocates

5 Actions that Build Brand Trust

brand trust

Today’s tech-savvy consumer doesn’t buy from just anyone. With all the options out there and the ease with which one can compare prices, read reviews and study up on brands, there’s no need to settle for a less-than-ideal brand anymore.

Customers can have their cake and eat it, too.

It’s this stone-cold buying approach that makes brand trust even more crucial than it has been in years past. As a brand, trust is what can put you above a competitor in a customer’s eye – even if your price points are higher or your products are a little bit different. It’s also what can keep a buyer coming back for more, time and time again.

Do you know how to build brand trust? Here are 5 actions that do it every time:

Providing value.

Today’s consumer is wise. They don’t want their time wasted, and they know full well there are other brands that can give them what they need if you can’t deliver. Want to keep them around? Give them value at every touchpoint. Stop using your blog to promote your latest sale, but instead show your buyers how to style the clothes they buy from you or install the software you sold them. Forget flooding their inboxes with ads and spam, and send them rewards money or coupon codes. Deliver something useful to your customers, and they’ll repay you with repeat purchases and brand advocacy in spades.

Going live.

Nothing is more transparent or authentic than a real, live interaction with someone. That can mean showing up to a trade show, answering phone calls or even using Facebook to live-stream some behind-the-scenes footage of your brand at work. Show customers you’re real, you’re here, and you’re part of their world.

Being raw.

If you want people to trust your brand, you have to build it up as a friend or confidant for your audience – and that means breaking down those corporate walls and getting a little more “real” with customers. Now that doesn’t you should mean forgo the copyediting before posting a Tweet, but be a little freer when communicating with your audience. Don’t always pump your latest product or shove sales jargon down their throats. Speak to them like you would a peer, and they’ll do the same for you.

Showing outside evidence.

Telling customers you’re great is one thing, but other people doing it? That speaks volumes more. Build up a network of strong brand advocates and ambassadors who will tout your brand in their circles. Solicit reviews on Google, Yelp and other review sites. Give rewards for those who provide you testimonials, and share Facebook reviews and satisfied customer Tweets to show off the real, authentic feedback you’re getting from buyers. Let their words do the work for you.

Ask for feedback.

Everyone wants their voice to be heard – even happy, satisfied customers. Make an effort to reach out to customers new and old, and get their feedback on how you’re doing and what you could do better. Poll followers on Facebook and Twitter, send out email surveys or gather customer focus groups to solicit their thoughts. You want them to trust you? Let them tell you how to make that happen.

Earn their Trust.

Brand trust doesn’t come easily. You have to earn it. Want more advice on how to do that? Let Haley Brand Intelligence guide the way.

 

How to Win Loyalty for Your Brand

brand advocates

In the branding world, there’s nothing better than a loyal customer.

Loyal customers are the ones who will buy from you time and time again, year after year, resulting in hundreds, thousands or maybe even millions of dollars in sales.

They’re also the people who will refer you to other customers – their friends, family members, colleagues and loved ones who will buy your products, use your services and put money in your pocketbook.

Sure, getting a one-time sale will fill the coffers temporarily. But long-term success? That only comes from loyal, passionate, repeat customers who keep coming back for more.

So how do you go about getting those types of customers? And what can you do to keep them? Here are 5 tips that can help you win customer loyalty for your brand:

  1. Single them out. You never want a customer to feel like just another number, so do anything you can to personalize the buying experience and really make every customer feel special. This can be as simple as sending them a thank-you note after a purchase has been made or following up to make sure they’re happy with the product once it’s been shipped out. You can even tag them on social media and call them out directly! Whatever you do, just makes sure they feel valued and appreciated.
  2. Offer a guarantee. There’s no better way to say “I have great products” than to offer a guarantee or warranty on them. Guarantees show you stand behind your offerings, and that should something go awry, you’re 100 percent willing to fix the issue and make sure the customer is happy. In a world where many purchases are done online with no interactions from salespeople or customer service reps, guarantees can go a long way in earning customer confidence and trust.
  3. Keep them engaged. Even after a sale has been completed, make an effort to keep every customer engaged in some form or fashion. Maybe it’s sending them a weekly email or alerting them of upcoming sales, or maybe it’s posting to social media with a funny meme, joke or unique use for your products. There are many ways to do this, but the fact of the matter is: If you don’t keep them engaged, they’ll forget about you. Do what you can to stay top-of-mind.
  4. Consider a rewards program. To really encourage long-term relationships, consider offering your customers rewards or points for each purchase they make with you. These points can get them closer to freebies, discounts or other bonuses at your store, or they can even give them cash back or gift cards. The main point is they encourage repeat purchases in the long term.
  5. Solicit feedback. Always give your customers a chance to provide feedback after a purchase, and make sure you really study that feedback once you get it. If something went wrong in the purchasing process, reach out and make it right with the customer. Then, use those errors to fix your process and prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.

Are your customers one-time buyers or are they in it for the long haul? If you’re not sure, start implementing these tactics and watch the difference it makes in your bottom line. Need more help making your brand a success? Contact Haley Brand Intelligence today.

How to Increase Customer Loyalty Through Your Branding

brand ambassadors

Good branding doesn’t just help increase leads and bring in new customers. In fact, it’s actually best at improving the loyalty of existing customers who already know about your brand, have bought from you and have used your services.

Now I know that doesn’t sound as exciting … the same old customers? Don’t you want new ones to improve your profits?

Actually, there’s a lot more money to be gained from a passionate, loyal following than just a bunch of newbies. For one, they’ll buy from you again and again – that means no advertising costs, no sales pitches, and no added expenses. Just regular income from them month after month or year after year.

They’ll also become your biggest brand ambassadors. Without any payment, they’ll start shouting your name from the rooftops, getting their friends and colleagues to love your brand too. You can’t get much better than that!

So how do you make this happen? How do you increase loyalty with existing customers simply through your branding? Here are a few simple ways:

  1. Give them an experience. Your customers should experience more than just an exchange of money and goods. Make their experience memorable. Make it easy, fun, helpful, valuable and anything else you can. Get everyone from your sales team to your customer service specialists on board, and create a consistent level of care and service that customers can learn to love and rely on.
  2. Make a human connection. Sure the web makes everything easier, but there’s something to be said for human connection, too, and don’t forget that. Whenever possible, add personal touches to your customer experience to make buyers feel more at home. Reach out with a personalized thank-you email, call them up and make sure their purchase is up to par, or check in a month later to see if there’s anything you can help with.
  3. Get to know your customers. Take time to find out what your customers like and don’t like, need and don’t need. Then use that information to tailor your brand exactly to them. Add them to an email list specifically aimed at buyers in a certain sphere or positions in a company. Direct them to landing pages that address the unique challenges they’re going through. Use their first name when they call for customer service or email your team for help. Make them feel like a part of your branding – not a victim of it.

What has your branding done for you? If it’s not encouraging repeat business or turning customers into outright brand ambassadors, you’re doing something wrong. Contact the branding experts at Haley Brand Intelligence today to learn more.

Three Ways to Find Advocates for New Products or Markets

Going viralBy now we all understand the important role customer reviews, testimonials and recommendations play in growing your brand online. Now that you have those reviews in your arsenal, it’s time to take it to the next level by engaging your brand advocates.

Brand advocates provide positive feedback and an additional marketing lift to your brand.  They further extend your marketing reach and give your brand an extra oomph of credibility and stamina.

So how do you identify your brand advocates?

Pay Attention to What Your Consumers Are Saying

The good news is that your brand advocates aren’t hiding in the shadows or behind a tree somewhere; they are standing in full sight, already participating directly with your sales team, customer service or other consumers online.

Review your social media postings and customer service communications from the past three months. Locate users who are posting likes and favorites on your social sites, who are sharing your content, and who are commenting on your posts and providing feedback to customer service. These are your strongest candidates for brand advocates.

Analyze Your Findings

Now that you have a pool of potential brand advocate candidates, it’s time to narrow down your list. Look at all of your candidates and see who fits your consumer profile. Based on gender, age, buying habits and location, you can quickly narrow down your list and come up with your brand advocate target list.

Reach Out and Build Your Advocate Army

Once you have your target advocates, engage them. Send survey emails asking for feedback. Create promotions and special deals for those who engage with your brand online most frequently. Most importantly, publicly say thank you when one of your advocates comments or shares something positive about your brand, product or service on social media.

Developing a strong front line of brand advocates will not only give you instant credibility with potential new consumers, but it will also provide your marketing efforts with an extended reach and life.

2014 Marks the Age of the Brand Influencer

Corporate-influence-ImageSince the dawn of advertising, it’s been a fact that by and large there isn’t a single advertising medium that is trusted at a rate of more than 50 percent. This fact is why agencies have suggested marketing campaigns that combine multiple advertising mediums for optimal success.

After 50 years of leading the consumers through “we say so” messaging came the entry of online marketing and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. As social media has continued to garner supporters and gain momentum, a shift has subtly occurred in online marketing. Gone are the days of telling the consumer what to think; today’s online marketing success is fueled by creating and fostering the online brand influencer.

Content Remains King

While content marketing isn’t really new to online marketing, over the past year or so it has hit the radar of just about every marketer with a pulse. Recognizing that online content is far more trusted than most ads, brands are now looking for ways to transition away from lesser-performing vehicles like online ads toward greater-performing methods such as blogging, videos and infographics.

Creating content that is compelling, sharable, believable and drives search results is now the name of the game. And while the goals for each brand are different, the end goal for most is to drive positive sentiment online, and thus increase brand position and sales.

Driving Influence Through Content Communities

Content marketing and brand influencers are one area where bigger isn’t necessarily better.  Simply creating a large farm of blogs, online content and social blasts isn’t the way to gain followers and spark influencers to speak highly of your brand online.

In fact, 54 percent of consumers believe the message delivered in a small, highly engaged online community is more than that of a larger, less loyal community. So what does that mean for your brand? Simple – don’t spray your brand everywhere; instead, create a focused approach for your message and aim it at a targeted, focused online audience. With so many people being separated by only one or two degrees from others on social networks, your odds of connecting with and driving support from true influencers will greatly increase with a more targeted and consistent approach.

As only buyers become influenced at greater rates by people from within their own online networks, brands are going to need to figure out a streamlined message, focus on a targeted audience and deliver the message consistently in order to win the game of online content marketing in 2014 and beyond.

Three Ways to Create Brand Advocates

People Marching with BullhornsWhen it comes to finding customers, many companies spend a lot of time focusing on strategies for acquiring new customers but don’t put as much energy into retention strategies.

However, putting strategies and programs in place that allow you to not only foster but to also develop a long-term relationship with your customers is one of the best ways to impact your bottom line. Turning your one-time or annual customer into a brand advocate will both strengthen your sales and grow your brand’s online presence.

Here are three great ways to turn your average consumer into a brand advocate:

  • Give Them Exceptional Customer Service

In today’s market, delivering the basics on products and services is a requirement in order to retain any consumer. However, companies who excel, oftentimes the most forward-thinking ones, have figured out that by surpassing the status quo, they not only surpass consumer expectations, they create experiences worth sharing.

Consumers who have an exceptional experience share with other consumers. This sharing of an experience by one often leads to new customers – just as the sharing of a negative experience often turns potential new customers away.

But don’t just rely on word of mouth. Give your customers a platform in which they can share with others. Encourage testimonials online, send out follow-up emails after they’ve spoken with someone from your company, and ask questions on Facebook and LinkedIn about their experiences.

  • Provide Advocates With the Tools They Need

Study after study shows that customers who spend the most aren’t always the ones who generate the greatest value when it comes to referrals. For your lower-spending customers, make sure they have a reason to share your story and that they have the full story.

Create a blog, open a forum, and encourage customers to share online about your products and services. Develop a robust “About Us” on your website that tells the story of your company and create a section that shares the everyday life of your company with your consumers. Adding photos or videos to your website is a great way to personalize the experience and gives your brand advocates sharable information.

  • Invite Customers to Become Brand Advocates

Not every customer has what it takes to become a brand advocate. Want to know who to target? Look for customers that fill out your surveys, return email questionnaires, and provide feedback about your brand, service and products online on social platforms.  Once you’ve identified this group, invite them to provide a testimonial, online or video.  Also give your brand advocates a bit of additional love with promotions, early-release purchase opportunities and words of appreciation.

10 Inexpensive Ways to Reward Brand Advocates

Creating a strong line of brand advocates – consumers who will sing your praises and share the story of your product with others without the financial compensation required for standard advertising – is an absolute must in today’s world of marketing. However, paying for advocacy isn’t a smart move as it not only cheapens the message, but it can often be perceived as unethical and raise flags with FTC regulators.

Developing creative ways to say thank you to brand advocates is a critical element in the advocate/brand relationship. Here are 10 great ways to say thanks to your advocates while staying within the guidelines of federal regulations and your overall brand character:

  • Sneak Peeks: Give your loyal brand advocates a sneak peek at upcoming products or services. This will keep them in the know and give them a feeling of being included in the launch excitement.
  • Exclusive Offers: Don’t give brand advocates the same offers you give to all customers. Give them unique offers that show you recognize them as your true brand VIPs.
  • Seek Feedback: Brand advocates know your brand better than any other consumer, so ask their opinion on how a product is doing or seek feedback on enhancements and upgrades.
  • Pay It Forward: One of the best ways to reward brand advocates is to make cash and/or in-kind contributions to deserving nonprofit organizations on behalf of your advocates. This approach motivates advocates, boosts your corporate image and reputation, and serves a useful social purpose. Give them a list of nonprofit organizations to select from.
  • Acknowledge Advocates: Let them know their recommendations and continued support matter. Give them feedback on their opinions, reply to their comments on social media and let them know when a new customer has come from a recommendation by them.
  • Advocate-Only Events: Special in-person or online advocate-only events are a great way to say thank you to those who give your brand a positive extended reach all year long. During these events, offer exclusive pricing, giveaways and bonus gifts with purchase.
  • Early Access: Have a new product coming out? Let your brand advocates be your beta testers. Then, right before the product launches, give them first dibs on ordering.
  • Access to Company Leaders: Giving brand advocates the opportunity to have direct dialogue with senior leaders of your company can make them feel special. Provide a members-only hotline or send out an annual email from senior executives to say thank you and solicit feedback.
  • VIP Levels: Give your brand advocates a VIP-level status online by mentioning them in a VIP list, incorporate an icon or badge on their profile, or offer them a VIP-only phone line and email line to your customer support and sales teams.
  • Advocate Awards: Create an advocate of the month or week program where you publicly acknowledge their support and give them a special offer. Most will even brag about this award…extending your reach and brand message once again.