Advocacy Marketing aka “Bragging Bucks”

July 29th, 2009 by Editor

The inspiration for this edition came from an email I received from John Helvey, a successful window film dealer in Kansas City. His question was simple, although the answer is not:

“In the tough business climate out there, what does the Guru suggest?”

I’m not sure about the “guru” part, but I believe there are two things that always increase the probability of success for a small business: hard work and programs designed to turn customers into advocates for the business. Hard work is a given, so I’m going to talk about that later, which I refer to as “Advocacy Marketing.”

You’ve probably heard of the “4-A’s” that make up the selling process and they are as follows:

Assess – Shut your mouth and listen.
Advise – Present your solution based on your assessment.
Agree – Agree on product, price, terms, conditions, dates and times.
Assure – At completion show customer how you have fulfilled/provided what was agreed upon.

As a former sales manager, I believe these “4-A’s” are critical to success selling. Unfortunately, most businesses and sales people stop at #4, the end of the transaction. But I believe there is a #5, which I call “Advocacy.” And it’s where the next transaction begins.
Running a window film business means placing ads, answering phones, giving presentations and estimates, scheduling appointments, performing the work, collecting the money and then doing it all over again. Unfortunately, in today’s business climate, owners must spend more time finding customers and costly ads often result in nothing more than another payable added to the pile.
To help explain “Advocacy,” let me cite a mailing I received recently from Intuit, creators of the Quick Books software. Their promotional message centers on the theme “Bragging Bucks.”

The idea is simple: Intuit pays existing users $100 for a qualifying referral and then gives the new customer a valuable discount. Everybody wins. Intuit is turning existing customers into sales people for its products.
Here’s my point: A window film dealer simply cannot advertise his or her way to success. Instead, why not tap into the greatest asset you have – existing satisfied customers. Build a clever referral program where everyone wins and the advertising bill only comes when a result is produced.

Here are some examples to help get your creative juices flowing. Remember the success of any referral or cross marketing program will be directly tied to professional-looking materials and where the offer is presented with passion and enthusiasm.

Give auto customers a referral card that explains how they can earn a gift when a new customer they refer redeems their purchase discount.
Give auto customers a discount card for a flat glass service.
Give auto customers a discount card for a second vehicle.
Go back through past invoices where customers did not have the entire house done. Create a promotional special and go get the rest of the job.
Create a referral program and send it to all past customers with really special deals.

The idea is to simply turn existing happy customers into sales reps for your business. You know what motivates a sales person: money. So, if you want this promotion to work make sure you offer a gift worth earning. Would you give $50 or even $100 to get a $500 or $1,000 job? Of course you would! Traditional advertising will cost at least that much or more! Make it fun – try a dinner for two and/or maybe movie tickets, depending on the size of the job your customer advocate sells for you.
Hope this sparks a few ideas. Be sure to share your ideas-and your results-with us.

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  1. Great article Mark. I agree with you 100% about creating the advocate. It is amazing that the more things change, the more they stay the same. A satisfied customer is always going to be your company’s best marketing tool. Even in the age of web 2.0, you cannot get around the fact that great customer service and creating advocates should be the core of what you do. Web 2.0 just makes it so that when you are successful in creating advocates that many more people can be reached. It was not that long ago that your happiest customer might be able to tell 30-40 people about you and that would be great. Now, one happy customer can post their satisfaction to thousands on Twitter, Facebook or Linked In. If anything, what you are talkning about becomes more critical in the age of web 2.0.

    Again, great job on a topic that we can never read too much about.

  2. This is Very Useful information to me… I am very exited with this information. It is amazing. thanks.

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