From loyal customer to B2B brand ambassador in 4 steps
Over the years, you have gathered a loyal group of customers, partly thanks to your loyalty programme. Something to be proud of! Now you would like to take advantage of that. Couldn’t you ask them to recommend you to fellow companies? But what if they say no? Or worse, what if they feel offended? I know from experience that you are not the only one who finds it difficult to acquire new customers via your existing network. I will tell you how to do this effectively step-by-step.
“Approach your most loyal customers who have the most influence first.”
Step 1: Who are your most loyal customers?
You can’t just randomly ask customers for a reference. You make the most impact by approaching the right customers. Take stock of who your most loyal customers are and who have the most influence. Your loyalty programme is, of course, where you find your biggest fans. Start with this group. They are already positive about your company and have a certain degree of customer loyalty. So if anyone is willing to recommend you to others, it’s them.
Step 2: Determine the ideal way to request a reference within the customer journey
There are three ways to activate your ambassadors:
- Request a personal introduction to someone from his network
- Ask to post something about your product or service on social media
- Specifically request reviews and ratings (on your website or independent platforms)
Think critically about what will work best for you right now. And consider how personal you want to make it. Is a click on a standardised ‘Tell a friend’ button (which looks a bit like advertising) enough, or would you prefer people share a photo of themselves with your product on social media? That conveys a very different feeling and is likely to make more of an impression on a new group of potential buyers.
Step 3: Reward your ambassadors for their efforts
The chance of success is a lot higher if you offer your ambassadors something in return: what’s in it for me? For example, in the form of personalised gifts that you know they like. Or in the form of benefits, such as not charging shipping costs with an order or allowing them to be one of the first to test new product releases, or offering the privilege of always being able to buy, even when products are scarce (such as the latest Playstation).
“You want the message that your ambassadors convey to represent your brand identity.”
Step 4: Decide how you want to distinguish yourself
Think carefully about how you want other people to recommend you: how do you want to present yourself? The Action, for example, is praised for its cheap gadgets while Apple prefers to be labelled as the best supplier of quality equipment. You want the message that your ambassadors convey to represent your brand identity. You can influence this somewhat by asking for something to be written about you on a price comparison site (in the case of the Action) or from more tech-savvy communities (in the case of Apple). At the same time, you should be careful not to over-orchestrate this. Word of mouth still works best when it is authentic and genuine.
Just do it!
According to sales theory, it is about creating so-called positive working relationships or relationships that are so satisfied with your company that they introduce you or recommend you to others who may be of interest to you. They probably won’t do that on their own, so you will have to ask explicitly. And that takes courage. When I first started in sales, I felt – just like you perhaps – a certain trepidation when I asked an existing customer to introduce me to someone from his network. My experience, however, is that most people are only too happy to do so. It always makes for a good conversation. So, just do it!
Do you want more information?
If you want to chat about how you can best create brand ambassadors within your portfolio and industry, send me a PM to schedule a call. If you want more information about smart customer loyalty in B2B, download onze white paper