Even though branding can be a challenge, the benefits of a strong brand are definitely worth the effort. One of the best things that can happen when you focus on creating the kind of client experience you are really capable of is an increase in brand advocacy. Basically you turn your current client base into an army of evangelists, all touting your efficacy and expertise to their friends, family and coworkers.
In a Forbes article, author William Arruda identifies three steps to taking your clients down the path to advocacy. By focusing on this journey you can not only increase the number of referrals you are receiving each month, but you can dramatically redefine your relationship with your existing clientele to ensure both sides are getting the most out of your engagement.
Step 1 - Get Them Engaged
The first step along your path to brand advocacy is crafting the experience you deliver to your clients after you begin to work with them. In his article Arruda says,
“In this phase, it’s about delivering on your brand promise. At a minimum, the offering meets the need. For maximum effectiveness, the client’s expectations are exceeded through every touch point.”
If you haven’t taken time to define your brand promise, now would be a great time for that. Without understanding the deeper values you want your brand to embody you can’t know what type of experience you should be delivering.
When you begin to work with a new client, it is a powerful time in your relationship, but also a vulnerable time. A competitor could come along and supplant you as their preferred solution. That’s why in addition to providing value to your clients at this stage it is imperative you establish your points of differentiation. What makes your service unique from all the rest? Continually state your unique value proposition and then deliver on it. It will become the foundation for the next level of your advocate.
Step 2 - Get Them Enamored
The second stage of a client’s path to advocacy involves increasing their loyalty by consistently meeting their needs. In the article Arruda talks about the importance of this loyalty.
“Loyalty is critical in branding. It’s a pivotal milestone in moving clients toward ambassadorship… Authentic loyalty is directly tied to the brand promise and your company’s ability to deliver on the brand promise consistently.”
To move your clients into a state of being enamored, you must first understand their needs almost better than they understand themselves. Client needs can be broken down into three categories:
Opportunities for gain - paths of service that can deliver real value to a client.
Pain points - different ways you can alleviate stress, discomfort and take away negative influence in a client’s life.
Customer jobs - the tasks and duties a client faces everyday as defined by them.
The secret to getting a client enamored is finding your path to understanding these three aspects of their life. Altogether they make a client profile and can not only help you deliver on your brand promise to your clients but identify the aspects of your service most attractive to prospects.
Step 3 - Get Them Enthusiastic
This is the most crucial step in actually transforming a satisfied client into an avid brand advocate. Advisors need to inspire enthusiasm in those they work with. But manufacturing excitement and injecting it into your professional relationships is no easy trick. In his article Arruda has this to say about enthusiasm:
“This is the holy grail of brand commitment. Enthusiasm is contagious… When someone is willing to promote you to others – to be an ambassador for your brand – you have enlisted a client in your brand mission.”
In order to stoke enthusiasm in your clients you must first help them identify the benefits they have received as a result of their engagement with you. If they can’t see tangible changes in their life they are unlikely to get excited. But once they do identify that value, it is then that you can help them see how introducing that same value to their family and friends will increase their standing in the eyes of their community. In fact the reception of your unique value puts them into a small community with all of your other clients. Even if they never meet anyone else you work with, they know that they are members of an elite club, a swank party. You must empower them to invite more people to the party.
Make sure they fully understand your brand promise and are able to communicate it clearly. Create value-centric content (optimized for sharing) that they can use as pass alongs to open the door with their acquaintances. Then, if you have played your part correctly, they will be in a position to share how working with you has benefitted them and why others should do the same.