How to turn your clients and customers into brand groupies
Imagine being able to attract new business without expensive, time-consuming traditional marketing techniques. You’ve already got the resources at your disposal! Your loyal clients and repeat customers are ready to take centre stage as your brand groupies, telling everyone else how great you are!
Human beings are social creatures who are predisposed to trust each other. But today’s savvy consumers are increasingly wary of claims businesses make about themselves. Now, they’re looking to strangers to help them in their purchasing decisions.
Ninety-three percent of consumers say that online reviews influence their purchasing decisions. A staggering 91% of 18–34-year-olds say they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from people they actually know*! This trust in online reviews is a form of ‘social proof’, where people copy the actions of others in an attempt to get the same results and experience.
As a business owner, you can generate your own social proof by turning your clients and customers into brand groupies: people whose collective voice, energy and enthusiasm for your business makes others want to be part of what’s on offer. And all you have to do as the business owner to set this powerful marketing tool in action? Ask!
Discover two of the easiest techniques to showcase your brand groupies below:
1. Commit to collecting glowing testimonials
Testimonials are bite-sized, positive reviews of your business that live on your website and social media. The best testimonials are emotive and focus on change, impact and benefit.
Email your clients/customers and invite them to share their experience of working with you or using your product. You can offer perks to encourage people to follow through, such as coffee vouchers at a local cafe.
Don’t just ask for a ‘testimonial’ – you’ll get broadly similar sentiments from each person. Instead, include a template in your email with questions that are tailored to those areas of your business, ethos or relationship style you want highlighted (e.g. ‘what challenges did we solve for you?’; ‘why did you choose us over another business?’; ‘what are the top 3 things you discovered working with us?’). Make it as easy as possible so that people are more inclined to return your email.
Add a ‘testimonial release paragraph’ in the email, asking for permission to use the testimonial on your digital and/or print channels. This is especially important if the person you’ve contacted is speaking on behalf of an organisation. Make sure you receive a written response saying ‘yes’. I use Dubsado to automate my template letter and release form, so I have a digital signature on file.
Short and sweet testimonials have more impact. Don’t be afraid to edit the testimonial if it’s too long or unclear. You can even create multiple testimonials from the one person. Return any edited versions to your client/customer and make sure they approve the revised words in writing.
Promote the testimonial everywhere: add it to your website, or make a colourful Instagram tile in Canva with a ‘quote’ on it, and tag your client/customer so they can reshare the love!
2. Interview your clients to uncover and share their unique story
For an in-depth exploration of how much your clients appreciate and value you, you’ll need to tell their story in a longer format. Case Studies and Client Stories are the two most common approaches. They can be in a written or visual (film) format, depending on your time and budget.
Case studies are didactic and direct: The client faced challenge A, and using service B, we came up with solution C. By contrast, client stories work through the halo effect. By focussing on your client/customer’s journey, a little of their success and ethos rubs off on you (see Propeller’s client stories as an example).
A quick win for busy businesses is to conduct a structured interview that can be published, almost verbatim, on your website. A Q&A style piece like this needs careful planning to get quality information on the day of the interview.
Shortlist your ideal clients and customers for interview. Approach them with a personalised email or phone call, inviting them to be involved in your client interview series.
Create an interview release form as per the testimonial release outlined above. Reassure your client/customer that they’ll have a chance to edit and approve the final interview piece before it’s published. Also ask for imagery to accompany the published Q&A.
Plan your interview questions carefully to draw out the highlights of your client/customer’s experience. Don’t be afraid to go with the flow during the interview though – especially if your client goes off on a tangent about how marvellous your business is!
Interview the client/customer over Zoom so you can record the chat and use Otter.ai – it will create a typed transcript as you both speak, making it faster to finalise the Q&A for publication afterwards.
Edit the interview to make sure it’s perfect for publication. As a bonus, you’ll uncover lots of gems that can be used as testimonials too.
3. Three more ideas for finding and celebrating your brand groupies:
Get rave reviews on Google! Follow the Google guide to find your unique URL for leaving reviews. Copy and send to clients. There are also paid services that will automate review collection for you.
To create truly compelling stories featuring your clients and customers, hire an experienced copywriter. Check their past work, and ensure you trust them to act professionally on behalf of your business when they’re interviewing your clients and customers. You can check out my Client Story packages for what could be included.
Building brand groupies
Turning your customers or clients into brand groupies using testimonials, reviews, interviews and client stories should be an ongoing process, rather than a one-off exercise. Testimonials can be made part of ‘business as usual’ by attaching the request to a regular process in your business, such as the conclusion of a service activity, or offboarding when a project wraps up.
To get the best out of your brand groupies, offer them guidance, structure and support to showcase the best elements of working with/purchasing from you – so others are encouraged to experience the benefits of your business for themselves!
*Source: Qualtrics XM, Online reviews statistics to know in 2022.