Where is the best place to find new customers? We think it will be your current customers and if you agree then we have created this quick guide to help you get the most from your current customers.
Before you move any further, we should select a goal/s for this process. In this instance, let’s say we would like to gather at least 5 customer references from current clients. In an ideal world, this will be one customer from each vertical.
We also want to know what we are aiming to promote here, is it:
- Our fabulous customer service
- A new product and its features
- The way our product has transformed their business
- Raise our brand profile
Once you have agreed your goals you can begin to search for customers that fit the bill. Don’t just rush in, spend some time considering how you are going to ask your customer to help you, after all at first glance customer referencing looks to be a pretty much one-way benefit. That is why we have detailed below what is in it for your customer.
What’s in it for your Customer
When asking clients for testimonials, it is worth asking yourself how it looks from their point of view. Why should they bother helping you, yes it is great for you and your company but where is the benefit for their company and more importantly for them personally.
Identifying key reasons that will encourage references is the key to unlocking the potential of your programme. Here is a list of what we see as possible incentives, we want to avoid giving the product away for free because that is just plain bribery and what we are trying to achieve is to create customer references that are a) believable and b) stand the test of time.
- Promotional Exposure – When creating a customer reference programme it is important to make the most out of the opportunity. Utilising the customer reference piece as an opportunity for PR, social media content, event content and promotion on both your website and theirs.
- Thought leadership – The customer you select to help with your reference programme will naturally be leaders in their field. You want to be able to show others how you work with the best and they work with you. Brand association is a key metric when looking at the ROI of your programme.
- Strengthen Client Relationship – In order to get your clients on board with your programme there needs to be a high level of trust and there will naturally be a lot more communication than normal. Organising video shoots, interviews and events will enable them to touch more areas of your business and get to know it intimately, as opposed to their sole contact of a salesman.
- Customer Ego – Never underestimate the ego of your customer, a good customer reference experience will not just give both companies a lift but will also raise your contacts profile inside and outside of the business. You can improve the chances of this by inviting your customer to:
- Events – let them speak and network with your other customers.
- Podcasts and webinars – invite them to join you as a voice of the customer when casting to your audience.
- Customer Evidence during Sales – Ask them if they would be happy to take a call from a prospective customer as proof of your product
Sweating the Assets
Once you have a client or group of clients on board and ready to contribute to your programme you should be thinking about what to produce in terms of content that will help achieve your goals. Ideally, you don’t want to take up too much of your clients valuable time with multiple interviews and shoots. Depending on budget you should consider recording interviews electronically. If you have a decent budget then hire a camera crew and roll it into a full on customer story, if budget is lacking you may want to use your mobile phone as a recorder and even a camera (watch our training series to find out how to make it look professional on your smartphone).
Once you have recorded the interview/s you then have a record of the whole customer story that you can dissect into valuable chunks. You can now think in terms of which type of asset will work best on which of your marketing channels. Video suits Social media and websites, audio can be turned into a podcast, text can be used in written case study, ideal for SEO purposes and minute detail. Don’t forget to use single sentences as attention grabbers all over your material. A 45-minute interview can produce a lot of good content, so analyse it in detail and see what you can find. It is also worth sharing across the company to see what value is in there for other departments.
Never ask too much of your customer.
If you want to know how we can help you build a customer reference programme then contact us to have a chat over a cup of coffee and we’ll see what we can do.