I recently attended Webtrends’ Facebook Sessions, where Director of Social Media for the San Francisco Giants, Bryan Srabian, kicked off the conference by saying, “Baseball and social media are a match made in heaven because we already have fans who like us, love us, and are Giants fanatics.” Well guess what? SO DO YOU. The truth is, you don’t have to be a “sexy” brand or win the World Series in order to have a substantial amount of Advocates who will go out their way to recommend your products. You may be skeptical, as I’ve heard the excuse many times before: “Well, we aren’t a passion brand like Apple or Zappos. People aren’t fanatics of [insert boring product category here.]”
If you’ve uttered these words or a similar thought has crossed your mind, you better ditch that thought process, and ditch it immediately because a) People recommend all types of products and services, and do so more often than you think and b) How are you going to inspire your customers to talk about you if you don’t believe your brand is worth talking about in the first place?
Consider the sexiness factor in the companies below (source: Zuberance data):
- An auto windshield repair service identified 76% of their customer base as Advocates (customers who are highly likely to recommend the service to their friends and colleagues.)
- An anti-virus computer software company was able to energize their brand champions to create over 10,000 positive recommendations in the form of offers and reviews.
- A motel chain identified 62% of their customers as Advocates; 32% of these highly satisfied guests published reviews with an average of 4.2 star rating.
To me, auto-windshield repair service, anti-virus computer software, and motels seem about as boring as hearing about our CEO's 28th trip to Palm Springs. Yet they still have an army of passionate customers recommending their brand and products to their networks.
The key to getting your Advocates to recommend on your behalf is simply giving them the tools to do so. Make it easy for them to write reviews, rate your product, share offers, create testimonials, and BOOM. Now you have a highly influential and unpaid marketing force.
Brands can make up for their lack of inherent sexiness by giving people other reasons to recommend. Of course you should strive to please your customers on all fronts, but many times people are especially enthusiastic about a certain aspect of a company. For example, I've recommended AT&T because of their responsiveness on Twitter, though I wouldn't say I'm fully satisfied with their cell phone coverage. Think about what your fans love about your brand and let them deem you the leader in your category for that feature. Maybe it's the…
- Inarguable quality of your product
- Swiftness of your customer service
- Progressive and fun branding
- Absolute ease of customer experience
- Ability to listen and adjust to your customers’ needs
Lack of a sexy product is no excuse to give up on becoming a talkable brand. If you can succeed in inspiring recommendations in a category that people don’t typically talk about, now that is sexy.