Build Customer Advocacy
Mark Frasco - President
September 2013 – Let’s put it right out there. I built my sales career during the time of letters that were typed on letterhead, using the latest electronic typewriter technology of the time, the IBM Selectric. If you need two copies, just slip a piece of carbon paper between. But, that is really just to give you a point of reference. I want to talk about building advocacy, in fact, customer advocacy. Back in the IBM Selectric days, most of our customer support came in the form of a letter – ‘testimonials’, and they were golden to every sales team.
The idea of building customer advocacy has been around as long as there has been something to sell. I once worked with a business owner who lined a 30-foot hallway to his office with two rows of framed testimonial letters from clients. It was impressive to view the logos on the various letterhead and the names and titles of all those who were appreciative of his services. These letters were core to his business strategy and growth process, but not easy to earn and gather.
A few months ago, I read a book, The Hidden Wealth of Customers, by Bill Lee. (I will review it in next month’s newsletter.) What I couldn’t stop thinking about as I was reading the book was that the goal of building advocates hadn’t diminished, in fact, it had been expanded, almost explosively. Maybe the structure looks a bit more shallow, but the breadth is mind-boggling. I love receiving a testimonial letter from clients and hope to get one from every one of you at some point in the future, but you can unplug the Selectric, it is a new age.
Likes, Followers, reviews, blogs, tweets; all in their very special way are becoming the testimonials of old. Today, the art of building advocacy is much more complex. We all strive to build a fan-base, but many of us haven’t yet jumped into the social media waters.
Building advocacy always starts with adding value in the market, so that has and never will change. From there, it has become critical to consider new methods of gathering testimonials and communicating your value to prospective customers. In addition to promoting traffic to and through base-line platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, we need to consider video, audio, automated feedback systems, reviews, user groups and various other interactions that are instantly available to everyone online. Your website is the hub of a much more complex online strategy that communicates not only what you do, but how you do it and how others feel about what you’ve done for them.
If you’re a client of COACT, we will be helping you strategize and build these systems over the coming months. If not, it might be time for you to consider building a more deliberate advocacy program. The world is watching and looking for indicators that will convince them that they should be your future customer.
If you’re a client, I will frame every testimonial letter I receive and put it in my lobby. Please leave the Selectric in storage and just attach it to an email. Thank you.
Questions? Please contact Mark Frasco at mfrasco@teamCOACT.com