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How to use marketing advocacy to grow your business

Word of mouth recommendations have long been a fantastic way to get new business, but in the digital age, it is now easier than ever to collect the praise of your happy customers. Once you have collected these recommendations, you can use them as part of your marketing strategy to attract new customers, both online and offline. 

But how do you create an environment where your customers will willingly spread the word about you?

1. Provide a great service

No one will recommend you if you are not doing a good job, so if the product or service you are delivering is not up to scratch, you can forget marketing advocacy. Ideally, you want to make your customers or clients so happy with your services that they will tell other people how great you are without you even having to ask.

2. Listen

Before the internet, ‘listening’ meant collecting paper customer satisfaction surveys or talking to your customers in person. These days, it means looking out for what others are saying about you online. Social media and online reviews are the easiest ways for your customers to review you, so keep an eye on these to find out what people are saying about you.

If someone does leave you a positive review, thank them. If their review is less positive, you could consider addressing the points they mention or writing back to them to see if they can be persuaded to change their mind. You may want to offer them some sort of incentive to do so (see point 4). For example, if you are a restaurant and a customer has complained about a bad meal, you could write back and offer them a free meal to make up for the last time. Of course, in this case it is crucial that this second meal goes well (see point 1).

3. Ask for feedback

Prompting your customers to provide feedback at crucial points in their customer journey is one way you can encourage them to give their opinion. However, you should be aware that these days people are bombarded by requests for their opinion – when they get a haircut, buy something online or even use a website – so requests for feedback can become irksome, and may be deleted.

The key here is to make giving feedback as quick and easy as possible. Few customers will want to go through the hassle of creating a whole new account just to give their opinion about your services, and no one wants to fill in long winded forms unless they are being rewarded in some way (see point 4). A simple stars ratings system works well for Uber and Amazon, so a similar system could work for you and your business too.

The other way you can persuade your customers to give feedback is to make it seem like they are doing you a huge, personal favour (which may indeed be the case). You could ask your customers in person if they’d be willing to provide feedback, send them a personalised email, or, if an automated form really is the easiest way, tell them that you’ll be sending a form but that it would really help you if they were to fill it in. Again, the more they like you as a person, and the happier they are with the service you’ve provided, the more likely they are to do this.

4. Use incentives

Incentives can be useful in several areas of marketing. You can use them when:

a) collecting feedback – e.g. when your customers fill out a form they are entered into a competition;

b) driving engagement on social media – e.g. putting out messages such as ‘retweet to win xx!’;

c) attracting more customers – e.g. giving your existing customers something for free if they recommending a friend.

Many large companies use incentives very successfully, for example, Dropbox, which allows you to get more space by recommending a friend, or Virgin Media, that has a financial ‘recommend a friend’ incentive. Don’t panic if you can’t afford a big prize or incentive, people like getting something for nothing, so offering a free ice cream, box of chocolates or a 30-minute consultation will usually be enough.

5. Ask for testimonials

Asking for testimonials is really asking for more detailed feedback; think of it as a full review instead of a star rating. If you’ve just done some work for a customer and know that they are happy with your service, you can ask them to provide a testimonial or help you create a case study.

When asking for testimonials or case studies, it is important to let your customer know how their words will be used – this will prevent any future confrontation. You should also make your request as personal as possible, and consider providing or at least highlighting the incentive for creating a testimonial, for example if they provide a testimonial that goes on your website, you can link to their site.

6. Spread the love

To improve your marketing advocacy karma, be an advocate for other companies. If you like an organisation you’re working with, spread the word by telling other people, and make sure you provide feedback.

If you need advice on any aspect of your marketing strategy, Strategy can help. Get in touch to find out how we can boost your business. 


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