By Liana Evans
Every company large or small wishes for the kind of brand loyalists and promoters that companies like Apple, Webkinz, and Starbucks have. Companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to figure out how to attain that kind of brand loyalty, and most of those companies fail. To a point, even Apple fails at capturing the opportunity of furthering their brand because they do not engage and empower their fan base nearly as ofter or to the potential they could.
While at the WOMMA WOMM-U event, I sat in a breakout session that focused on “Building Sustainable WOM Strategies”. There was a lot of key take aways I got from that session, but one of the ones that really hit me, that I see so many companies fail at is empowering their brand promoters or brand loyalists.
It’s great to have those rabid fans who talk about your products or services and how great and wonderful they think they are to everyone they meet. Word of mouth like that can be better than running a commercial on Desperate Housewives for 3 weeks, especially in a world of DV-R and TIVO. Having an unpaid spokes person, who’s had personal experience with your brand, willingly promoting it and touching their friends is a great thing to have.
Having those is great, but can you make it a better situation, not just for you but for them? Can you empower those brand loyalists? Can you make their recommendation more than just words? Can you make their words become actual engagement opportunities with the people they are speaking with? Do you think it’s possible to even track this type of empowerment?
The answer to all of these is yes.
Yes you can empower your brand loyalists, and yes you can track these types of engagements if you plan and strategize for it. But you are probably sitting here wondering ‘But How?!’ Well there are a lot of ways to do it, you really need to stop and think about your audience and how they speak about you. The key to empowering your evangelists is in understanding what’s in it for them. What do they gain from promoting your brand, and what can they gain from being empowered to promote a brand they love?
From coupons to exclusive opportunities, these are just some of the ways brands can empower their most loyal customers. By giving them something to “back up” what they are telling their friends, families and neighbors, it gives these listeners another reason to really believe what they are saying could possibly be true. As people we are skeptical of people who seem to always promote without any back up, but empower that promoter, and you’ve got an entirely different ballgame on your hands.
Very interesting and inspiring. I was just thinking of sending some of my most loyal customers a small box of chocolate truffles. You’ve convinced me now to go ahead and do that. Thanks!
You are spot on Li, amplification of WOM is becoming the name of the game. And \”HOW\” is the most important question.
Some of the other methods we use to help achieve it (without paying for coupons) are:
– storytelling – influencers love telling stories, so equip them with stories (as well as the back-up reason to believe you mention)
– Pictures, videos and other media they want to pass on – this is the obvious step, but the danger people slip into is doing this with the sole ambition of achieving something \”viral\” ahead of \”sustainable\”.
– Widgets & gadgets – the more people use social networks and write their own blogs, the more it\’s possible to give them stuff to add to their profiles ro content. This works especially well in walled gardens like Facebook, but Open Social will make it possible accross the web.
– Online communities – this the bread and butter of our business FreshNetworks Online Communities it\’s about creating long-term relationships with customer that keep them engaged and your brand top of mind when they are talking to their freinds and families.