Bacon Bits

For more Juicy Bacon Bits Sign Up Here

“Would You Mind Repeating That?” How to Cultivate Brand Evangelists and Enlist Their Help with Inbound Marketing

iStock-519422002-1.jpg

Don’t let them be consumed by their own passion—keep kindling the fire.

Pay close attention if your idea of an evangelist is someone who speaks in tongues. That’s what a brand evangelist will do for you, and oh boy, is it sweet music. Brand evangelists are deeply satisfied customers so pleased with your product or service that they want to sing your praises to anybody who will listen.

We know how massively effective—and valuable—word of mouth marketing is. Brand evangelists just might be so valuable and effective that cloning technology should be perfected for no other reason than to make more of them. Until we have that solution, you’ll have to create them the old-fashioned way.

Entitled, but in a good way

Brand evangelists aren’t satisfied with just being your customer. They want to make sure everyone knows they think you’re awesome. They don’t expect reciprocity—in fact, they’re very careful about maintaining a “separation between church and state” sort of relationship that allows them to say they’re not getting anything special from you because of it. What it means is that these unbelievably powerful marketing vehicles aren’t costing you anything at all.

What’s more, a satisfying amount of brand evangelists volunteer to do this, fueled by their own passion. They need help maintaining that passion. Here are some suggestions on how to sustain their passion, and cultivate more brand evangelists in the process.

Feedback

Does your company think that feedback is the annoying screeching you hear when you ask customers what they think of your product or service? If so, then hey, thanks for reading up to this point—but you probably can skip the rest of this.

If you want to cultivate evangelists from your customers, you have to listen to them. And talk to them. Then listen to them some more. Customer feedback is the most essential ingredient you must add to the marketing mulch that gets spread around customers to encourage the bloom into brand evangelists.

Massive ego stroke? That would be nice, but it won’t be helpful. Aim for a humbling dialog, instead. Help these people get past telling you why your product or service is so great. Ask them to share with you what you can do to make your product or service even better. That’s your sweet music.

Then do it.

When the customers see that you really are listening, and you really will act on their suggestions, they shed any resistance they have about becoming brand evangelists.

Why? You have given them a story to tell.

Go find a brand evangelist. Dissect them (figuratively speaking), and you’ll find there’s always a story at the core of their attachment to a product or service. The brand provided a solution. Every potential brand evangelist out there is searching for the same thing. It’s a currency.

So, while you aren’t really paying brand evangelists to promote your product or service, you are giving them a powerful promotion tool by way of solving their problem. You can’t solve their problem unless you’re willing to embrace customer feedback.

Sometimes it’s loud and obnoxious. It’s necessary. Name one product or service that got better because of a constant stream of compliments.

Something to talk about

The thing about customers who are willing to talk a lot about your product or service—which makes them brand evangelists—is that they often run out of things to say. No matter how amazing that core story about the solution you provided is, even they know there are only so many ways to tell it before they run the risk of squandering their social currency…and sounding like a broken record.

Your brand evangelists need talking points. They need more fuel to kindle their passion. Are they looking for something at the same level as their core story? That would be awesome, but it’s not necessary. You just need to provide kindling, remember? The easiest way to do this is to make yourself available to interact with them through social media.

A Hubspot study shows that 71% of people are more likely to purchase something based on social media referrals. What this means is that if you’re on social media, non-obtrusively interacting with your brand evangelists, nearly 3 out 4 of their friends, family, and coworkers will react favorably to the word-of-mouth recommendation they observe.

Make it a challenge to find out—via feedback—how you can be a solution for these people, too.

Sharing really is caring

Your brand evangelists already think you’re all that, and a bag of peanuts, too. However, as we’ve already mentioned, they need help to maintain their level of passion. This assistance has to go way beyond having their relationship with you validated by the social media dialog scenario we just outlined.

Social media is the ace up your sleeve.

You already know it’s powerful. What many companies haven’t figured out know, though, is how to unleash this power—especially so it works as a tool for brand evangelists. After all you want them to be the ones singing your praises. That can’t come from you. Ever. At least, not on social media.

The secret weapon is nothing more than convenience.

Make it beyond easy for your brand evangelists to share helpful—and this is important—non-promotional information about your product or service.

But ContentBacon, I have social media icon links on my homepage.

BFD—and that doesn’t stand for Bidirectional Forwarding Detection, either. If you want your brand evangelists to sustain their promotional value, you had better go way beyond the default action of plopping in social media links on your website that basically do nothing. What do you expect those links to do for a brand evangelist? You’re preaching to the choir.

There’s one thing to use as your guideline for sharable content. It’s a single word. Experience. Your brand evangelists are looking for ways to express the resulting state of using your product or service. Often, this experience is tied in with the reason you sell your product or service. You’ll create concussion grenades that’ll create shockwaves of attention when you fashion sharable content that helps your brand evangelists share your why as it pertains to their experience.

Content outside of social media

  • Make it 1-click sharable if it’s an article on your blog, a tutorial, an eBook, or any kind of non-promotional material that a brand evangelist can use to validate their opinion of you. Don’t make them have to figure out how to position or preface it. Put yourself in their shoes. Quick, you’ve got about 30 seconds before the traffic light turns green. What can you say in 140 characters about this piece of content before you Tweet the link?
  • Make it attributable so that your brand evangelists can take the credit for sharing it with their networks. Remember, though, that they won’t share it if you’re just throwing some promotional gobbledygook their way.

Content inside social media

  • Mix it up. Your brand evangelists—and their respective networks—will have preferences. Some will like video. Others may go gaga over podcasts.
  • Chop it up. Your evangelists may enjoy long and thought-provoking articles that reinforce their opinion of you—but they’re also aware of the TLDNR effect. Make it easy for them to share excerpts.
  • Make it explicitly safe. This is important, so pay attention. It is unwise to ever give a brand evangelist a reason to be angry at you. Consider what all of that positive passion can do if flipped on its head. Never, ever, abuse your relationship with a brand evangelist by taking inappropriate opportunities to talk to their networks behind their respective backs—or in any way risk the possibility of making your brand evangelists look foolish.

Putting a price on the value

We said earlier that word-of-mouth marketing is invaluable. We started out by saying that brand evangelists are valuable. So, if you’re wondering how you’re supposed to calculate an actual return on investment for the cultivation of brand evangelists, we’ll leave you with these numbers.

Zuberance is a company that helps you create customer advocates, which are the same things as brand evangelists. They took research conducted by Deloitte from a study they undertook called “A new breed of brand advocates.” Zuberance extrapolated these numbers:

  • Brand evangelists lower the cost of acquisition by up to 50%.
  • They spend 2x as much as ordinary customers on your brand.
  • Their referral value is 3x more powerful than other types.

You want as many people like this as possible, of course. Don’t shy away, though, from customers or prospects who express doubt about your product or service. This group represents a rich opportunity for conversion. Seek them out. Solve their problem. Arm them with ways to share the experience.

They’ll join the choir.