Expert Internet Marketing Advice for Small Businesses
Brand Advocates are your most loyal, passionate, and engaged customers, and your best marketers. They dont just buy your productsвЂ”they sell your products for you. Bob Fuggetta, Zuberance
And theyre powerful people. 83% of these superstars are more likely to share information than your typical web user. And a substantial 70% of people who have recommended at least one company or product online have done it for 5 or more of them. 16% of them have recommended a whopping 15+ products or services. That means there are people out there who, having had a good experience with your company, will shout it to the rooftops and be very pleased to do so.
Even though brand or consumer advocates arent necessarily those that spend the most, expect their influence to wield great financial rewards by their influence over others' purchasing decisions. They don't expect a reward in return the reason half of those questioned in the survey recommended something was simply because they had a good experience, and another 37% just like to help others out.
This hasnt stopped some companies paying for advocates but in the long run this may well create real trust issues for your company. Why should you believe a thing any of a company's followers say ever again when the people who are advocating them are being paid for it?
Create them: It starts with clearly defining your company's goals, according to Forrest Research Analyst Tracy Stokes. Then:
Find them: They do their work online but they're not likely to provide feedback on your business's site they're more likely be talking on social media and posting reviews on Amazon, Yelp, consumer forums and the like.
So go out and find them where they are by looking for mentions of your brand. Use sentiment tools to find mentions of your brand name. Here's a nice list of them
Don't ever lose touch with Sarah, above.
Once you've found them: Talk to them, share great content with them, answer their questions and feature their reviews on your website or social media network.
Remember that advocates are loyal followers and not part of your marketing team, so treat them with respect and honesty.
Pic credit http://www.eaccess2learn.eu/
Some of the world's strongest brands were originally built through low-cost community-based marketing. Nike , Starbucks , Google вЂ¦ When companies focus first on meeting the needs of the people they serve, they don't have to spend big money to attract new customers. And when they stay close to their communities they don't need market research to tell them what people want.В Forbes
Whereas most other forms of marketing are concerned primarily with attracting new customers, community marketing concentrates on existing as well as new customers. The key to people in an ongoing conversation, with each other and/or with you. That may be by email, on social media or blogs.
The Leon chain of restaurants has an email club that's open to anyone to join, and in return for an email address you'll be sent invites to tasting, recipes, tips and you'll receive a special gift for each new season. A welcoming gift of a discount voucher is sent when you first join. As well as reminding people that you exist, clubs like this encourage customers to keep coming back. The conversation with this type of campaign is directly between the company and customer or prospect.
An online community that works brilliantly well is cosmetics retailer Sephora's 'Beauty Talk' where the public can ask the experts, ask questions of their fellow consumers and post pictures and comments about the products they've bought at the store.
At time of writing there are over 77,000 conversations about make-up alone on the site and lots of regular contributors. Just imagine the amount of keyword rich content that's being created!
For any small business thinking of setting up community or forum, they could do worse than study Sephora's example.
Wally's Deli in Cardiff has a following of 4,300 on Facebook with lots of likes and comments, great reviews on Qype, Yelp and the like, and a website that tells the story of how Wallys came to be a family-owned business with roots in the city stretching back to 1939. They have conversations with customers like this on Twitter:
Their community cares about them, and they pay attention to their community. It's a mutually beneficial relationship that will hopefully keep Wallys going for some time to come.
The rise of the global movement 'B Corp' is an indicator of just how important it is for companies to consider how to be involved in solving social and environmental problems. Although It's recently attracted large companies like Etsy and Patagonia, a great many of the companies who have received B Corp certification have less than 10 employees, so that proves It's not impossible for local companies to get involved in causes they care about and are relevant to their customers, even with more limited resources.В A children's toy manufacturer probably won't do their best work teaming up with the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, for instance.
Cause-related marketing (CRM or cause marketing) can be an effective way of raising money and awareness for the charity involved. And, all other things being equal in relation to price and quality, a company's support of something they believe in will help differentiate them from the competition and attract links from authority sites.Transparency is key in how your company is benefiting from your partnership with the nonprofit, however.
Small businesses would do well to stick to smaller charities, as the big ones mightn't have the time to give a smaller company the recognition it needs when conducting a cause-related marketing campaign.
Waitrose's green tokens are an example of point of sale cause marketing. Customers are invited to choose which charity they'd rather see the shop's monthly donations go to, by way of a green token that's placed in a particular bin at checkout.
Purchase-triggered donations occur when a particular product or service is bought. Yellow Moon in the screenshot above actually let you choose which charity your donation goes to:
They've earned valuable links from the NSPCC, PDSA and Clic Sargent as a result of their fundraising efforts and that will help them get their products seen in the search engines, earning more money for charities into the bargain.
To raise awareness on behalf of nonprofit, local businesses can hold events like sponsored walks, bike rides or coffee mornings, and post videos on Facebook or YouTube. There's a collection of message promotion campaigns on Pinterest
This example of Lush raising awareness of dog laboratory testing in one of its branches is a good example. As well as supporting a worthwhile cause and positioning themselves as an anti-vivisection company, Lush have earned a good link and publicity from a local newspaper into the bargain.
The benefits for business in introducing employee engagement programmes include helping workers to get more from their jobs, teaching them to work better in teams, and of course the charity or nonprofit will gain from the arrangement.
Law firm Irwin Mitchell send their trainee solicitors out to local grammar schools to teach law. And of course, they mention the fact on their website. Readers, befrienders, crisis helpline volunteering, fundraising are all the types of charity employees can get involved with.
Keyline Merchant Builders won a Barclays business charity award for employee engagement, a lot of kudos and quite a few links for the efforts their employees have put into raising money for a prostate cancer charity. Here they are on Third Sector.co.uk
Social media, web, mobile and location-based programmes will play an ever larger part in charity fundraising, and local businesses can get involved too.
Movember, which began life as an attempt to bring back the moustache in Australia and later morphed into a male cancer awareness campaign is now a worldwide phenomenon, and has gained exposure through people and companies posting images of moustachioed men (and women) on Facebook, Twitter and Mo Space.В Here's an interview with the brand's creator.
Countless small companies have become involved in the annual event and you can gain exposure in the local community by supporting this good cause, as well as causing a stir online with some really good images. Goals sports centre in Leicester sponsored the football tournament referred to in the image above and got a mention on the local website This is Leicester
When a company pays to use a charity's logo on its products or services. This tends to apply to large charities allowing their logo to be used on major brands' products, so It's not just as easy for small businesses to get involved in.
something unconventional that allows your brand to meet your customers where they live and work В The Sloan Brothers
Grassroots marketing is a low cost marketing push that will start to get a new business up and running, and It's ideal for small business because It's cheaper than a mass marketing campaign. It's targeted aim for a particular geographical group or segment of the community.
Handyman.co.uk have used a really effective singing handyman campaign in London. I saw the guy in the van in Covent Garden a while ago and I can still remember the name of the company:
Another one I've seen was a singing duo called Shiraz in Bridport town, singing their own tunes on a sunny Saturday, and giving out business cards that advertised themselves as being available to create and sing original songs for special occasions and celebrations. Unfortunately they've no website or I would definitely link to it!
Some creative skills are required for grassroots marketing campaigns, but here's a list of ideas to get you started:
Word of mouth marketing covers an enormous range of techniques: many are fun and all will exercise the creative side of your brain. So, whether online, holding on a charity run, singing through a megaphone or speaking to your customers on a forum, get out there and get started.
For more WOMM techniques, read the Small Business Guide to Word of Mouth Marketing