Creating Brand Evangelists for Fun and Profit!

What the heck is a brand evangelist? 

The name sounds like it describes some sort of crazy-eyed, obsessed person, doesn’t it? It does, but honestly, this person is your company’s best friend.

In fact, nutty as it may seem, perhaps you’ve even found yourself in the role of brand evangelist at some point or another in your life. For example, have you ever had a really, really, EPIC slice of pizza? One that was so good that every slice of pizza you have for the rest of your life will be a disappointment? And not only did the food at this place please your taste buds, but the service was amazing, the waiter was hilarious, and the prices were great and you just had The! Best! Time! Ever!

Since that incredible experience, have you told everyone about it?

You have?

Then you, dear friend, have had an evangelizing moment where the company has touched your soul and provided for you a temple at which to worship. So what if it was a pizza place and not something more sophisticated? We’ve all been a brand evangelist at some point. If you haven’t ever experienced this, you must have a knack for finding all the crummiest places. Either that, or you’re a big cranky pants.

At any rate, you want your customers to experience this evangelizing moment so that they can become brand evangelists. Sure, not ALL of your customers are going to become so enthusiastic about your business that they become evangelists (because they’re cranky), but some people are thrilled to pieces when they find something great and they can’t wait to share the news with the world. These are the people you’ll want to treat like family. You want to make sure they stay loyal and enthusiastic and LOUD! 

There are lots of ways you can do this.

Perhaps the biggest, yet most overlooked group of potential brand enthusiasts you have are your employees. Yup!  Those people sitting around you every day, even the weird guy who looks like Melvin, that stapler-obsessed man from the movie Office Space, can be your biggest brand enthusiast. After all, they experience your brand every day. They are in fact part of your brand. And they go out into the world and talk about their jobs,  what they do at work, the services they provide, etc. You want your employees, as representatives of your brand, to love and believe in what you do so they can spread the good word! If your employee’s don’t care about your brand, nobody else will either, so start internally and then work outward.

Once you’ve got your employees singing your praises, you’re ready to tackle the outside world. One of the best ways to turn ordinary customers into brand evangelists is to listen to them. What do they need that your business can provide?  What value can you offer them? Just ask them and they’ll tell you. In fact, people feel honored when asked for their opinion and are often quite willing to share their thoughts. It makes them feel special and that goes a long way toward creating some amazingly loyal and enthusiastic customers.

It’s also important to know what people are saying about your business. Using social media is a great way to sort of listen in on the buzz and find out what people are digging about you…and what they’re not.

Be prepared to hear the good and the bad news about your brand, and use that to turn frowns upside down (if there are any, which there won’t be because you rock)! One of the fastest ways to create brand evangelists is to resolve customer service issues quickly, and to the customer’s satisfaction. If a customer goes online to share an experience, you have an opportunity to interact with them and change their opinion of your brand.

When interacting with customers, be sure to use a voice that they can relate to. If you’re stuffy and weird, they won’t feel comfortable dealing with you. Make sure your brand speaks in a voice similar to the customer’s own, and they will listen.

Interaction is crucial in creating brand evangelists. The more interaction a brand has with its customers, the better. Take the time to engage them either on social media sites or even simply by taking the time to talk with them when they visit your office/pizza emporium/donut shop /turtle hatchery, etc.

Be available!  Give your customers ample ways to connect with you. This can be via email, phone, facebook, twitter, etc. Availability lets them know you ARE interested in them and that you DO care about their opinions.

But, what about your existing evangelists?

Well, make it easy for them to love you!  People are far more likely to listen to other customers about how great you are than they are to you. They know you have a biased opinion—of course you’re going to say only good things about your brand, but other customers will tell the truth (one hopes). So, make those customers super happy!  Offer them special deals to help fortify your relationship with them, know them by name, remember their preferences—whatever you can think of that will make them feel special and valued. Maybe you could even give them a stack of coupons or business cards to hand out to their friends! 

Whatever methods you use to turn ordinary customers into brand evangelists, think about how you yourself like to be treated as a customer and use that to help guide your efforts. You’re already an expert, you just have to put what you know into practice and you’ll have everyone singing your praises in no time (maybe even the cranky people)!