When you are thinking of approaching your customers to participate in marketing efforts or sales incentives you must have a strategy in place. Businesses that solely rely on a sales team and fail to consider how this will affect their customers are unlikely to be successful.
Positive customer interaction not only brings in revenue, it is also where you gain testimonials and case studies. These are at the foundation of most marketers’ game plan.
There are two major questions that will factor into getting your customers to agree to participate: Who is doing the asking? How are they asking?
All too often the sales team is dealt the task of finding customers to participate in marketing efforts. Many times, the sales team will have long-standing ties with clients and have a feel for which costumers will respond to which test. However, even when companies offer their sales team lucrative bonuses and incentives, they tend to focus more on sales rather than marketing. The sales team is not necessarily the best option to do the asking.
We are more often to agree to do something for someone we know and like. So, whoever is in charge must be personable and likable. Share a story your customers can relate to. Present your request in a way that you are not just asking for something, but taking a real interest in others.
We as human beings have an overwhelming desire to pay back our debts, or to do a favor in turn when someone has done something positive for us. Our need to reciprocate others is so strong, it is said to be at the very forefront of what it means to be human.
A great option is to give your customers something for free. Those on the receiving end of your gift will then be in your debt. Getting a yes will be much easier when using this technique. It doesn’t really matter what you give, everybody loves free! Some ideas include:
- Product samples
Change Your Mindset About Asking Customers to Become Marketing Advocates
The most important consumer advocates are those that believe they can entrust your company with their needs. They believe in you because you have shown them that you care about their situation, including understanding what they will and will not do for you. Your customers also trust that you would have their best interests and preferences at heart. There is a wide variety of reasoning for which people may choose to participate in your marketing programs. Let’s cover a few of the reasons why customers may be willing to cooperate:
- To raise awareness of the industry
- To increase credibility in the industry
- To help others by sharing their opinions and experiences
- For career development
- For personal incentives from the company
- For personal recognition
Industry Recognition : Marketing efforts
Anyone who enjoys recognition, is looking for career advancement, or has the desire to increase their credibility among industry rivals will positively react to industry awards. Prestigious industry awards are appealing to most customers. These awards typically focus on the customer’s performance, but will sometimes add a valuable opportunity for the companies to be recognized. Companies can use this to their advantage by marketing their customer’s award, drawing attention to the customer and the company. This will lead readers to believe they were a part of the solution.
Use Customer Advisory Councils and Boards to Lure Them In
People who take pride in their work will welcome an opportunity to be a part of the advisory councils of the companies that are pivotal to their work. The chance to impact the direction of a product is very satisfying. For this reason, many consumers will readily agree to participate.
Your customers are often overlooked, but are actually the best source to provide valuable insight to your business’s overall direction and marketing strategies. These people will be able to guide you on the products and services they are interested in, how much they would be willing to pay for them and how they should be delivered. Your entire business is designed around their needs, so who would be better to ask for their opinions. Your advisory council can give an unbiased direction towards which markets you should pursue. They can also give you an idea how to capitalize on the latest market trends.
Customers with enthusiasm and those looking to build industry awareness will be grateful for the chance to write an opinion piece in an established industry trade publication or professional magazine. With the number of journalists steadily declining, good written content is in demand and magazines are more than happy to print honest insight on the destiny of a particular business. Be careful not to confuse this as a chance for free advertising. There are guidelines enforced that strictly prohibit this. The writer will be able to discuss what they are doing in conjunction with your company and why they feel it will grow or what they envision for the future. Your business may not receive a lot of attention from the article, but it gives you the chance to publicly show your appreciation to your customer’s strategic vision.
Professional Titles and Opportunities
Companies who are appreciative will award and recognize their most notable customers with special titles and opportunities. Software development companies use this strategy quite frequently. The more apps the customer builds using the company’s design, the more exclusive their status becomes within the company. The perks the preferred customer may receive include being listed as an elite developer, the opportunity to write blogs on the company website, and having the opportunity to win company awards. This reward system goes over really well with individual contributors.
Coming up with a wide variety of options to coerce a customer to aid with sales and marketing efforts will help to assure you have a good amount of customer participants. Keep in mind, all consumers are different, you must design the programs with various personalities in mind to reap optimal results.
Marketing Efforts photo from Flickr