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Whether you are a B2B or B2C company, it is very feasible with some creative thinking and the adoption of a few key principles, to get your customers selling for you.

That’s a pretty ambitious claim, but at Big Red Cloud we have done the numbers on this one and it definitely adds up. You’ll be glad you followed our advice when you see that bounce on your balance sheet, (which, may we say, is super easy to do with our accounting software).

Typically in the past, having your customers sell for you has been known as ‘word of mouth referrals’. While this is still generally true, the ways for customers to become social influencers and product evangelists on your behalf have expanded far beyond the original verbal word of mouth process. These days, with the advance of technology and the popularity of social media, your customers have far more opportunities and public forums to spread word of mouth referrals through digital recommendations and reviews.

By investing in stellar customer service, social media management and even loyalty program, your customer satisfaction and loyalty score will naturally grow. Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are the keys to getting your customers selling for you, as your satisfied clients and customers recommend you to friends and family who in turn go on to recommend you and so on.

To build credibility in your brand you need to mould sincere advocates from your loyal customers. This is generally achieved through Earned Media. Earned Media is the force behind successful brand advocates. There is tangible financial value for a company to be had in increasing the brand’s visibility, the brand reputation, and the evolution of the brand as a synonym for quality and reliability. Earned media gets people talking about your brand. The rewards of these can earn a business a long term stream of income rather than a few single sales.

Here are our top tips for a boosting ordinary customers to loyal customers, and loyal customers to brand advocates through Earned Media:

  • Have a great content marketing strategy. Content marketing strategies are there to boost your online estate profile, appeal to existing customers and widen the net on capturing new ones. Great content and not keyword stuffed nonsense will rank you higher on Google. Most importantly of all, it will increase your brand visibility as your target market like, share, repost and retweet. It’s free advertising from a credible source to your customers’ peers. What’s not to love?
  • Create a space for customer feedback and implement it. No matter how much energy and thought you’ve put into your product or service, your users and consumers will quickly spot areas for improvement.  97% of consumers said they are somewhat likely to become more loyal to a company that implements their feedback (Apptentive). Deeper loyalty means your customers make more recommendations about you. Whether it’s an online form, reading your Facebook reviews or a suggestion box at the till, open your business to implementing consumer feedback.
  • Run a referrals program. Referral programs offer rewards to customers who bring other customers into the fold. This type of program can sometimes require an IT investment to track the validity of the referral and to track the reward. Accounting software like Big Red Cloud makes it easy to keep track of the numbers here. The advantage here is that it feels more transparent as you can account for increased sales and customers through good reporting.
  • Serve up some Surprise Reciprocity. Small surprises that feel incredibly personal can generate incredibly strong goodwill from the receiver and result in word of mouth referrals. An example may be a free ‘birthday’ coupon, an exclusive preview or going the extra mile to help out a customer with an issue unrelated to making a sale.
  • Trumpeted Reciprocity recognises opportunities for an incredible ‘good service’ story and utilises it by doing an ‘outrageous’ unexpected good deed and highlights the story. These are the kind of stories that go viral and get your brand visibility, reputation and sales skyrocketing.
  • The Frugal ‘Wow’. Small gestures are proven to help create lasting loyalty. Some unexpected free advertising for a client, a personalised birthday message on Twitter, shout out to a user of the month…get creative with how you can wow and delight your customers at no cost to exceed customer expectations will bear fruit in the form of sales and referrals. For example, customers who receive responses on Twitter from a business are 30% more likely to recommend the brand to others, and 44% more likely to share their experience online and off as well as spend 3%-20% more with that brand (Twitter)
  • Empower Dark Social. Dark social is where your customers recommend you through a channel you cannot easily monitor – for example through a text message, a private email etc. Empower your customers to be able to recommend you easily in a practical way by using shortened links with link description  Branded shortened URLs outperform standard shortened URLs, in some cases by up to 1000% (see here). Implement a sharing widget providing a copy-and-paste URL function allowing for easier sharing directly from your content pages.

By following the tips above you will foster a sense of community and sticky loyalty among your customer base who will then go on to recommend your brand, whether consciously through a word of mouth referral, or unconsciously through a share, a retweet or a like. Turn your consumers into social influencers for you and support them consistently by giving them something to rave about, and you have customers selling for you.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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