Giving Back

Leveraging Your Best Ambassadors: Your Customers

What kinds of content are you leveraging on your website and in your marketing arsenal? Chances are—whether it is in your blog, eNewsletters, video, images, direct mail or web site—you have a lot of content from, and about, your brand from your perspective.

But, hearing from only one side can be like listening to ‘the teacher’ in Charlie Brown or Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (“Anyone, anyone…”).

Are you leveraging your customers’ insights and feedback to tell your story for you and to provide a more rounded view of your company?

Whether you are talking about 20 years in business, your new product integration, latest new executive hire, or, even, the dish on your latest ice cream flavor—it is necessary to communicate about your brand. And you should definitely get the word out.

But, as you are doing so, are you also leveraging your customers’ powerful experiences and enlightening feedback? (And, what about your partners?) Beyond the content on your site, do you have easy access to customers, ready to speak on your behalf to prospects, the media, etc.?

One way to accurately answer this first question is to take inventory of your content—it can be as easy as performing an audit of everything in an Excel spreadsheet. Now examine your offerings and the personas or customers you are trying to appeal to for each. If you have five products that each appeal to five different personas; you have 25 different combinations. You should aim to have at least a few case studies and examples for every product or service and persona you represent. A good number of total case studies/quotes/videos/testimonials for the above example would be 30-75. Performing a content audit gives you insight into this information and other content that you may be missing out on (infographics, industry insights, white papers, use cases, etc.)

Do not despair if your customer-perspective centric content is lacking. Chances are you may have a huge untapped resource ready to leverage. Here are four ways to start taking advantage of your customers’ feedback.

Take inventory – besides assessing the customer-centric content you do have, take inventory of the resources you have available and how you might continue, or start, to leverage this channel. You might want to meet with customer service, sales and other customer-focused departments to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the verticals, types of companies, personas, your company represents, as well as how you can better leverage them. Should you use an outside source to gain intelligence from your customers; what should the process to find, contact and followup with each entail; what is the best way to approach them (at your user conference, through an outside firm, via their sales exec or main contact, as a special favor from the president?); should you offer them a small incentive to talk with you and agree to let their name and company information be used?

Create a band of ambassadors – In addition to offering an incentive, how can you make it a win-win for your customers to talk about your business? Should you submit your customers for awards (that also involve your company) and will make them look great professionally? Would media coverage in their specific industry(s) also benefit them? Would they appreciate having a say and being part of a focus group, receiving advance products or getting special service?

Create once and leverage, in many formats, often – Now that you have access to this awesome resource, what can you do with it? How can you offer a variety of digestible content in various sizes and shapes? This might include quotes, testimonials, case studies, media coverage of social media posts and more.

What can you take away and learn from customers? The best communication closes the loop. Communication with your customers should never be a one way street. How can you now capitalize on the intelligence they have shared? What they see as most valuable? The insights they bring into the industry? What they would like and need? What can you do better?

Leveraging your customers to talk about your products and services not only helps to better tell your story, it opens up a dialog, when done right, that says ‘we care about you and how you are using our products’. It also offers opportunities for your organization to more closely partner with some of your best customers for even greater success.

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