Singing Your Praises

Building Brand Advocates

If you look at how your customers find you, chances are that many to most of them will have been recommended to you by one route or another.

Word of mouth marketing has been and continues to be one of the most effective forms of marketing there is.

People trust the recommendations of other people - friends, family, social media, review sites. And it can have a pretty significant impact on sales. 74% of customers say that recommendation is a key decider is making a purchase.  In today’s online world, word of mouth marketing has taken on a whole new dimension under the heading of brand advocacy. 

Brand advocacy isn’t just for big businesses with deep pockets. In fact, as a small business, you almost certainly have the edge over bigger businesses when it comes to capitalising on the power of your customers to grow your business.

Want to know how?

Of course you do!

First though I want to share an example of brand advocacy in practice. Derek Halpern runs online businesses supporting other businesses. He recently shared a complaint he received via Twitter. His reason for doing this was to highlight the need to draw a line in the sand sometimes. But what fascinated me was how the situation was de-escalated by Derek’s followers.

It starts out like this:

Derek Halpern Complaint Twitter

As the conversation progresses, the complainer starts to move away from an entrenched position until he begins to take responsibility for his own mistake. Eventually he drops out of the conversation altogether.

Derek Halpern Complaint Twitter 2

A lot of small businesses worry that social media will result in this type of very public complaint. But as you can see, the responses from Derek’s followers demonstrated overwhelming support for this position and gave the complaint no traction. 

The question is why did Derek’s followers get behind him?

From my perspective as a small business, Derek delivers the goods and then some, his customer support is outstanding and he shows that he cares about his customers in everything he does. He runs a multi-million dollar business but he answers his own emails and gives you a personal response (even on Thanksgiving – so he might need a little adjustment on the old work/life balance thing!).  

And that is the simple answer to building brand advocates for your business.

Deliver on your promises – give your customers what they want/need and over-deliver whenever you can. Exceed expectations and do it with a smile. You will get one back.

Excel at customer service – good customer service is one of the biggest deciding factors when making a purchase. And customers are far more likely to recommend you to others if they get a great experience. Setting clear expectations, delivering a seamless experience, being approachable and resolving issues quickly – it all makes a big difference. Your competition is likely not very good at customer service – you can stand out and get ahead by making it a priority.

Show you care – as a small business you almost certainly know your customers better than bigger companies. Personal touches show you care. A handwritten note in the order for a regular customer, dog treats in your B&B welcome pack for the visiting pooch, a nice word on social media. Here’s an example from Innocent.

Innocent FB Post Brand Advocacy

Innocent respond on their Facebook page using people's first names - always.  And they say thank you, in their own style.  We all like to feel appreciated and saying thank you and acknowledging support goes a really long way in the right direction.  

Just yesterday I was talking to a client who had been at a fair selling her products. One potential customer had come back to her stall repeatedly to pick up and look at the same product. After numerous visits she started counting out her money to see if she had enough. The problem was, did she have enough to get a cup of tea on the train home and buy what she so clearly desperately wanted. My client gave her a discount to cover the cup of tea, she bought the product and pretty much skipped off happy as could be. That customer is going to say nothing but positive things about my client’s company – for the price of a cup of tea. Enough said.


  • Be great at what you
  • Be great at customer service
  • Show your customers that you care about them

Online or offline – that’s the simple starting point for building customer loyalty and developing brand advocates

How are you going to make it work?

©Polly Hearsey 2019

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