Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
Word-of-mouth has long been touted as one of the best ways to attract new customers. Prospective consumers want to know how your product or service can directly and positively impact their lives, and customer testimonials can clearly demonstrate that value.
However, it can be challenging to build up a loyal base of advocates who will promote your business to their networks. Here, 11 members of Rolling Stone Culture Council explain a few strategies that have helped them create true product advocates and why they’ve been so effective for their businesses.
Deliver an Exceptional Customer Experience
We’re very focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience and making it easy for our customers to post reviews and share how their experience at Velvet was. We’ve partnered with a company that allows our customers to create “one-click reviews.” Timing these messages to our customers when their experience is fresh has proven to drive more engagement and feedback via reviews. – Matt Morea , Velvet Cannabis
Put Them in the Driver’s Seat
We are big advocates of putting our consumers in the driver’s seat of their experience. We do so by giving users the ability to invite their peers with them when they workout, helping our partners build company cultures centered around fitness and wellness and giving our stellar Client Services team the flexibility to “surprise and delight” our users at their discretion. – Ed Buckley, Peerfit
Let Them ‘Brand Manage’
Give the consumer ownership of the brand and let them “brand manage.” Ask your customer base what they think of the state of your brand. Constructively accept the answer. They know when they are over you, so ask them to stay by involving them in the brand directly. – Michael Polk, Billboardology.com
Do Something to Surprise and Delight Them
Do something for your hardcore consumer base without asking them to do anything or expecting anything in return. The sheer act of doing something purely because you want to be kind to people who support you will help gain their loyalty and trust. “Surprise and delight” and doing things “just because” really goes such a long way. – Cassie Petrey, Crowd Surf
Share Their Stories
It’s super simple. We share stories of our core customers honestly, truthfully and with detail. They’re the most real examples of how our products are used and make people’s lives easier and better. Let customers advocate for themselves. This will allow new customers to identify with these stories and involve themselves organically and immersively. – Meg He, ADAY
Work Hard to Impress Them
The best strategy is to work hard and consistently deliver above client expectations. When you impress them, you build trust, and clients are way more likely to refer, post, share and return. – Wes Meyers, Burning Tractor
We have a really strong and loyal local following with our businesses. Twice a year, we email our subscribers to thank them for supporting our small businesses. Then we invite them to continue their support by giving us positive reviews on both Facebook and Google. This boosts our search engine rankings and strengthens the positive brand perception we’ve worked so hard to build. – Buck Wimberly, ULAH, LLC / ULAH Interiors + Design, LLC
Create Shared Experiences
The best thing you can do for your consumer base is to create shared experiences between them and your brand. A shared experience can be emotional, transactional or even experiential and should be achievable across all messaging platforms and through the purchase funnel. Aiming to create shared experiences drives loyalty and humanizes your audience members, who are too often thought of as data points. – Matt Blackburn, ORDER
Focus on Your Superfans
The best strategy for activating your consumer base is to focus on your superfans. This will do two things instantaneously. First, superfans will become a revenue-generating income source by eagerly purchasing new content, merch or experiences. Second, they create a FOMO-inducing movement that spreads across the fandom as they are naturally talking about and spreading news and updates for you. – Kim Kaupe, Bright Ideas Only
Showcase Your Customers With Your Products
As a B2B jewelry supplier, we showcase our customers and how they work with our products in a coveted yearly calendar, a monthly magazine, ads in industry publications, on our Instagram and more. Seeing our jewelry being creatively and successfully used by other industry professionals is the best testimonial to our quality — and it gives the spotlight to our customers, which they really appreciate. – Vanessa Nornberg, Metal Mafia
Listen to Them
Create and maintain an open and honest dialogue with your core audience. A brand can listen more than it speaks to grab key insights into the cultural pulse of its central fan base. – Erik Oberholtzer, Tender Greens / cohere