Words have power. Creative power. With our language, we fuel our thoughts, which fuel our emotions, which fuels our creation.
As a leadership group at Smync, we strongly advocate for the end of military and combat language in all marketing and sales to our customers. We want to end ‘us vs them’ marketing. By that, I’m referring to the use of military/combat language in pervasive in marketing.
It is an old 1960’s Command and Control mindset, and it still drives most sales and marketing today. In this mindset, prospects must be coerced and convinced to do business with us. We even use the old military language when we ‘launch a campaign at a target audience’. It is no wonder that people believe marketers do not act with integrity; they are at war with one another!
Even today, 17 years into the “we culture”, it is common for companies to ask, “how do we get our customers to work for us?” That is the wrong question to be asking and will set your marketing strategy off on the wrong path.
One leading expert in the field recently referenced in his national-level keynote an ‘Army of Zealots.’ While I can understand the sexiness of that headline, and a desire to be controversial, you don’t want to wage war on your customers via your advocate community. You are not seeking to outsource advocacy to mercenaries on your brand advocacy platform. Instead, seek to create a culture of cooperation, inclusion and excited participation among your most valuable asset, your clients.
Co-Creation With Our Passionate, Loyal, Customers!
Consider your language carefully and take it to another level. Stop thinking about customer conquests, churn, upselling and closing. Instead think conversation, referrals, ownership, and cooperation.
Combat-won customers are not sustainable customers Combat-won customers are not sustainable customers. Campaigns are not sustainable. You plan for and launch a campaign, assess its success, and reload another. Perpetual, but not sustainable. New customers gathered from special incentive laden campaigns rarely hang on long or develop into profitable clients. These relationships are simply started on a wrong and generally irrecoverable basis.
Customers attracted through the pull of word-of-mouth will reflect the personality and the expectations of the ones who brought them. We want to build sustainable relationships. As people and consumers ourselves, we do not desire to have an army engaged in a campaign to breakthrough, overcome and hammer us with a business deal either.
People trust advocates because they know the advocates have nothing to gain. Advocacy is actually the highest level of a relationship, not loyalty. Many consumers remain loyal to a product just because it is convenient, cost effective, or the only option. That is quite different than proactively recommending it to people they care about. It’s a whole new level for a customer to actively go out of their way to engage their friends and family and recommend a product or service. Advocacy is not a short-term combat strike for quick sale; this is a transformational customer engagement and empowerment endeavor.
So how do you create a sustainable relationship with brand advocates?
- Appreciate Your Customers: see them as the top business asset they are, but treat them like friends, not like conquered combatants.
- Invite Them Into Your Family: allow customers access and influence. Encourage them to co-create the future of the company with you. Many companies occasionally host Customer Advisory Panels or Focus Groups with great benefit, so why not invite this co-creation every day?
- Give Access: to appropriate levels of your hierarchy so your customers can really help you design new products and create new marketing.
These people will have your back for years! They are an asset to your business; in fact, there are about 500 billion social word-of-mouth impressions each year, just in the United States.
Do not fight the empowered customer, befriend them, harness them, and integrate consumer community and your company as one group with co-objectives.
Presently, about one-quarter of American adults are brand advocates online. But, more than one-half of consumers report that they are highly likely to recommend if encouraged and empowered to do so.