Inspire Customer Loyalty and Convert Them to Brand Advocates
Customer loyalty is what keeps your dealership in business. Every business owner or manager knows it’s harder and more expensive to attract new customers than retain existing ones. Showing appreciation for repeat business is important, but you can go beyond that, inspiring your most ardent supporters to become brand advocates for your dealership.
Taking a systematic approach can make building customer brand advocacy an ongoing part of your marketing program.
Who likes you best?
Look in your own database – tracking sales immediately identifies your long-term and highest-dollar customers. Use your analytics that track website activity and email response. And pay attention to the conversation when you monitor your social networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.
What are they saying?
How likely are they to recommend you and your equipment, or parts and service departments? Are they already doing that? If so, you want to be quick to acknowledge and thank them for positive reviews, unsolicited testimonials, etc.
Invite them to become part of your “sales team.”
Use social media and email to invite them. Why are they so supportive? Maybe they love their new truck or that attachment you recommended. The guys in your service department helped them out of a jam by zipping over to the job site after hours. You got them great financing they didn’t think was possible. You always have coffee and cupcakes on hand.
Ask for and use their stories, photos, videos, comments and tips for other owners or operators. That’s the best possible content because it’s personal and real. Ask them to post reviews on Google+ or Yelp. Share their recommendations on your social networks and on appropriate pages of your website.
A simple word of thanks goes a long way, and you undoubtedly already have an official customer loyalty program in place, but you can easily do more:
- Acknowledge and highlight them by name – company name, too, so you’re subtly promoting their business just as they’re helping promote yours.
- Ask them to supply answers to customer-posed questions or challenges.
- Create an “inner circle” of your most loyal customers. Invite them to help create new or improved services or plan your next annual open house.
- Ask them to attend your demo day or join you at your trade show booth as a guest expert. Order special shirts for them to wear and keep.
Make an effort to learn more about them, with an eye on creating an “advocate persona” to guide your marketing. You can use the profile to identify additional advocates and direct their efforts on your behalf.
Don’t blow off your detractors.
At some point, your dealership will treat someone less wonderfully than they expected, online or in person. Or someone will think there’s a defect with their new equipment. Properly managed, these situations can be reversed – not simply un-ruffling their feathers, but turning them into most vocal supporters.
We all appreciate compliments. But most of us were taught as children to make light of them, so as not to appear immodest or self-important. But you can’t grow your business without tooting your own horn. It called marketing.
Allowing your biggest fans to assist in selling you and your dealership has two-fold benefits – independent third-party recommendations and reviews are inherently more influential than your self-promotion, and customers are flattered when you acknowledge them by asking for their help. That reinforces their loyalty even more.