Customers don’t just want what you offer. They want to believe in your business. They want to be brand ambassadors. This comes from a basic human desire to be connected to something bigger than ourselves and share that experience with others. One of the best things business leaders can do is use this to their advantage. \
What is a brand ambassador?
A brand ambassador is a customer who shows a high level of loyalty to your brand. One of your best forms of advertising is to nurture brand ambassadors. With all our digital advances in the 21st century, personal relationships and word-of-mouth are still the indispensable cornerstones for business growth.
Nurturing brand ambassadors gives you many advantages. Their positive, fulfilling experiences with you have become a personal desire to see your business succeed and to see others enjoy what you offer. You now have customers who are not with you simply for what you can do for them, but understand you to be a positive force within your community or industry and want to see your influence grow.
Their involvement with you is no longer merely an exchange, but an investment. Whether or not they literally hold stock in your company, relationally, they do. And they will bank on it. This means you have cultivated long-term or even lifelong clients. It also means natural opportunities to expand fruitful client networks through referrals and connections. Brand ambassadors also help increase sales by sending new customers your way, and by increasing their own commitments to your services.
Finally, brand ambassadors bring credibility to your brand. People trust the recommendation of a friend or colleague more than they do the most authentic ad or sharpest social media campaign. Marketing dollars, after all, have skin in the game, and we know that. Brand ambassadors, however, create a shortcut. By recommending your company to others, they can turn prospects into clients very quickly. Their interest and enthusiasm are genuine, and are evidence of their positive experiences.
Nurturing brand ambassadors
Nurturing brand ambassadors takes time, and requires some strategy to make sure you’re making the most of every opportunity. However, the principles for nurturing brand ambassadors are not flash-in-the-pan gimmicks. They take you straight to the heart of nurturing a quality business. They put your focus where it needs to be.
Be who you say you are
This boils down to integrity. While you don’t want to undersell yourself, you never want to oversell. Do not make a promise you cannot fulfill. This includes promising something you are able to begin, but cannot consistently follow through on without undue strain on employees.
When your business and staff are functioning at their peak of health, what are you providing? That’s your promise. When clients receive genuine, consistent service, without sensing a house of cards behind it, you’re building priceless trust, and they can recommend you without hesitation.
Like who you are
What do you love about the work you do? Embrace that. Willingness, enthusiasm, and joy are not only motivating, but contagious. Every business has its flaws, and every growing business experiences flux. Don’t worry about being perfect. Perfectionism only creates tension and stress, putting undue pressure on sales, marketing, employees, and clients. Embrace and leverage the positive about your business as a first priority, even as you experiment and adjust what needs work.
Know how you’re adding to the marketplace
If customers can go anywhere, why do they come to you? List three to five other businesses in your area and your industry. Now ask why you stand out. You are seeking particular clients who might be strongly attracted to you for any reason from low prices to aesthetic or cultural appeal. When clients commit to you, what makes them feel they’ve arrived? Build on this value, and make sure your marketing strategy is making this value proposition.
Constantly ask and learn
Understanding how you add to the marketplace is a great opportunity to survey customers, as well. Brief online surveys, requests for Google reviews, and informal conversation are all great contexts for gathering customer feedback and growing. There is always time for hearing customer feedback. Take a step back, give yourself some room to breathe and think creatively, and always be adding to the whole of who you are.
Reward customer loyalty
A formal customer loyalty program may or may not be in the cards for you. But informally, make sure that loyalty is rewarded. Something as simple as taking time to ask about a long time client’s family or sending a holiday greeting can go a long way in solidifying a relationship, and proving that your company is based on more than financial gain only.
Get personal on social media
Share inside scoops. Choose images that show some of your actual work and not stock photos only. Post articles and helpful comments written by employees. Highlight a few issues that don’t directly drive sales, but which your clients would find useful, interesting, or even amusing. The point of getting personal on social media is to show your human side, which, in business, should be your best side. Word-of-mouth is also driven digitally, as people post comments, follow, like, share, connect on LinkedIn, and write online reviews.
Turning customers into brand ambassadors can feel almost natural when you know what you offer, fulfill promises, and use your marketing tools to grow personal relationships. Completing those steps takes intention, strategy, and execution.