One of the most helpful activities a business can undertake is to identify who they feel are their ADVOCATES. While this may seem pretty straight forward, try it and you will find it isn’t as easy as you thought.
Why is it so difficult? Two primary reasons. First, you have to identify the characteristics you will use to identify your advocates in your industry and second, most aren’t really sure if they are advocates or just good customers. This isn’t a concept most companies have focused on in the past.
What have most focused on? Referrals and references. The difference between a Referral/Reference and an Advocate is simple – advocacy has as its key component something the others don’t have – “PROACTIVE WORD-of-MOUTH”. Referrals and references have been the “Holy Grail” in the past because it is what we all did – asked our customers and clients to be a reference for us to say good things about us. Social Media changed all that.
Now your audience has over 350 social media tools to talk about you online or over their mobile devices. This has opened the proverbial “Pandoras Box” and now your customers can talk freely about you – and not just one-on-one, but to thousands. So having someone either “in your camp” or “against you” has become more important than ever.
So the goal now is to find those that are really in your camp and to see if they will proactively talk about you to their friends and colleagues. Here are a few simple steps you can take to identify who your advocates might be:
- Who are your most “Loyal” customers – a good place to start looking for advocates?
- Who are your best customers that are the most “vocal”?
- Which customers do you use most for your references and referrals?
- If a reporter came up to your customers and asked them to tell them why they do business with you, would they describe your products or their experience? (experience would be the correct answer)
- Would your customer go out of their way to do business with you? And then talk about it on their own?
- Do they talk about you on their social media channels (twitter, facebook, blogs, etc.)?
- Have you received any unsolicited calls from people saying a certain customer told them to call you because you were “the one” to talk to about this particular product or service?
These are some of the questions you should ask yourself about your customer base and see which names come to the top. Don’t be surprised if the number to start with is pretty small – it usually is. But this is a great place to start and somewhere you can work from as you build some of your own criteria for advocacy. In some future posts, I will share with you some diagrams and techniques to help you understand what advocacy looks like and how to build it. Leave a comment if you have any thoughts you would like to share or any additional criteria you have used to determine your Advocates…