Tim Jones of True points out that Evangelist Customers are the best
marketing tools for a brand.

Generally 20-30% of a direct business’ costs are spent on marketing, so if
brands really can start using their customers as an extension of their own
sales efforts, there’s a lot to gain financially.

The concept of encouraging or rewarding your customers to spread the word is
not a new thing. MGM's, 'recommend-a-friend' and testimonials for example
do just that.

I'm sure we would all agree that it’s a difficult balancing act if you’re
inviting your customers to have their say Online. For a start you need to
be prepared for views you might not like. And there’s also a fine line
between encouraging and rewarding customers to do your marketing for you. If
it starts looking like and out and out bribery, your recommendations lose
all credibility.

Here's six simple tips that will turn your customers into Evangelists and
by doing so create a powerful marketing tool for your brand.

One: Make sure you have a strong and differentiated offer – without one,
you’ll never be a talking point.

Two: Let customers express their experiences or feelings in your purchase
and customer service processes. Include reviews, ratings, voting or passing
on a recommendation. This content will help with your search rankings too.

Three: Reward but don’t bribe – find appropriate levels of incentives to
encourage member get member and natural word of mouth.

Four: Offer creative components that can be taken to other sites. Games,
product configurators, calculators or new product videos can all provoke
sharing and discussion.

Five: Involve users in your product/service development. US t-shirt
company Threadless invite users designs, with significant financial reward
and kudos if one of your t-shirt designs is produced. Make users famous.
Some love to see their name in lights and are happy to spend ten minutes
extolling a product or experience. Let them do a more detailed product
review, or be interviewed about their experience, and promote it on your
site.

Six: Embrace bad feedback. Customers who have had bad experiences and
are shouting about it can be your strongest evangelists of all. Take online
feedback, good and bad, involve critical customers in beta-testing of
enhanced products or services and release your updates to let everyone, fans
and cynics, letting them know that you have listened and improved. Don’t be
afraid to invite them to further critique your offer – you’ll gain great
credibility.

All the above are simple and straightforward steps that will increase both
the power of your brand and the reach of your marketing. But just how many
brands do you know that are using these methods?

Maybe it's about time that brands took one step closer to an alliance with
customers and harness the power of that relationship to improve their
marketing, their brand and their delivery?

www.truedigital.co.uk

Published on: 1:44PM on 22nd October 2009