Every business has them. Most business owners are oblivious to them. That’s where you and I need to be different.
What is an advocate? An advocate is a fan of your business. Someone you’ve worked with or someone who has bought from you. They know what you do, like what you do and truly believe you bring real value. They have no problem sharing their belief with their friends and peers. When someone has a question about something that relates to what you do, they don’t hesitate to say “You should really talk to so-and-so. They’re the best in the business.” You gotta love an advocate!
But ironically most business owners DON’T love their advocates! Mostly because they don’t know about them. This is a step we cannot afford to ignore.
I mentioned every business has advocates. Is this true? It really is. If you’ve done business for any length of time, you no doubt have some real fans. See if you really sucked and everyone you work with is disappointed, you’re simply not going to be in business for very long! So if you’re in business, yes you have advocates. And it’s essential to take measures to identify them.
How do you find them? There is a highly specialized technique I use that I was taught by a guru many years ago. I ask. You should too!
When someone buys something from you or subscribes to your newsletter or works with you as a client, etc…ask them how they found you. This is old school, and oddly enough many businesses just don’t do this.
Are you going to get an answer 100% of the time? Absolutely not. It truly is impossible to get perfect results with this. The beautiful thing is that it doesn’t have to be flawless. You just need to make a concerted effort. It will pay off for you.
The Power of Advocates
The reason your execution doesn’t need to be perfect is because just by catching up with a percentage of your advocates can have a beautiful effect. You don’t have to snag all of them (although the more the better); you just need to snag SOME of them. Do this, and you’ll be writing me a thank you letter at some point. I guarantee it!
The cool thing is that an advocate can be turned into a real asset. Let’s say you get a new client. You ask them how they found you, and they give you an interesting answer. They tell you that their coworker had worked with you about 6 months ago, and they told them you were the person to call. You’ve officially received a referral client. That is an awesome thing.
You’ve already done one great thing. You asked. Now you have an answer, and you have a name. The next thing you need to do is contact that person who referred your new client to you, and you need to thank them personally. I recommend even sending them a gift of some kind if appropriate.
Reward this behavior. Don’t let their gracious behavior that led to you getting a new paying customer go unnoticed. Let them know in a very clear way that you appreciate it. And let them know that you want MORE!
It’s easy to see that big companies are understanding the power of advocates more and more. Referral programs are growing in number. Vonage offers a month or more of service for free to every customer you refer to them. That’s just one of many examples. Vonage understands that word of mouth advertising is powerful, and they want to harness as much of it as possible. That’s smart.
Like I mentioned, this kind of activity is most likely happening behind your back. If you believe in letting things like that go on without you having any control over them, then that’s up to you. But if you can harness and encourage and make it worth their while for people to continue referring business to you, do you see how powerful that can be?
Are you asking your customers how they found you? Are you taking this (or any other steps) to identify your advocates?