On the frontlines of marketing, brand evangelists are the passionate people you want fighting for your mission. These are loyal fans who are eager to share your company’s message with the world, thus making it a very effective and inexpensive form of marketing.
Indeed, cultivating evangelists can yield significant outcomes. In 2010, a Satmetrix study revealed that evangelists spend 13% more than the average customer, and the revenue they bring in for companies in terms of referrals is equal to 45% of the money they spend.
Before your company can benefit, you first need to identify and target potential evangelists within your customer base. The conversion process from customer to evangelist requires proper nurturing, and companies are finding that customer success training is an effective approach.
Get to Know Your Customers
No two brand evangelists are created equal. What makes a Toyota brand evangelist tick won’t be the same for a Starbucks fan. This calls for you to ask yourself a very important question: “What are the needs and desires of my customers?”
To answer this, begin by collecting customer feedback. Integrate surveys within your customer training content to collect and sort customer data. Once you find patterns within the results, use that data to spark a community around a common interest. Communities fuel evangelism in a powerful way because they serve as platforms for customers to train one another alongside your brand.
After discovering the popularity of their scissors within the scrapbooking community, Fiskars, a well-known metal consumer products company, found a way to turn these customers into evangelists. The company set up a dedicated website to train scrapbookers, giving them specific instructions and tips for larger, more creative scrapbooking projects using Fiskars products, scrapbooking templates, and Fiskars-branded decorative paper-based assets that scrapbookers could use in their own projects.
Think of the above example as you train customers and elicit their feedback. To gain a more keen awareness of your audience, here’s a list of eight questions to ask yourself and your customers.
Why do customers purchase and/or use our product or service?
Why do customers continue to use our product or service?
Who publicly loves our brand?
What about our brand do customers love?
What type of content do our customers want and need?
How can we make it easier for customers to share our content?
How can we delight fans of our brand?
How do we plan to measure our success?
As you uncover the most valuable contributors in your online community, conduct detailed interviews with them. Then, use this information to build your ideal evangelist customer profile.
Develop Valuable Training Content
As stated by Paulette Bluhm and Kristi Elliot-Heitman, writers from Smart Design: “To grow your brand, know what people find meaningful, connect with them thoughtfully, create joy they can’t live without, and believe in your employees.”
Now that you are well-versed on your customer personas, it’s time to build excitement around your brand and products with the type of content that potential evangelists find helpful and interesting. Since brand evangelists go above and beyond to promote your products, equip them with the advanced knowledge they need to advocate for your company.
Offer trainees customizable paths for learning to help them become more successful users of your product or service. You can achieve this by creating courses tailored to novice users that cover basic skills, as well as intermediate and advanced users who are interested in learning more in-depth practical knowledge about your product.
Feel free to think outside of the box as well. For example, Werner, a leader in ladder production and manufacturing, hired a Hollywood safety manager — who was involved in the safety measures of movie stunts such as those in Mission: Impossible — to support their safety training program. Werner’s free online programs have trained and engaged over 500,000 people since its implementation.
As you design and create customer training content, consider the sharability of the content in order to optimize the ease for your customers to spread the word. Then update your content as your features evolve, and target advocates that benefit from individual features of your product or service.
How to Identify Potential Brand Evangelists
Offering customers the knowledge and expertise necessary to succeed with your product creates value for both you and your customers. On one end, customers learn to make full use of the product, which enables them to accomplish the goals they set out to reach when they made the purchase. In return, your company is allotted the chance to interact with customers and collect valuable information and feedback.
Companies are catching on. According to Brandon Hall Group, 54% of organizations implement some form of extended audience training for customers or channel partners. Among these companies is Apple, an industry giant with no shortage of brand evangelists. Apple has found great success in its One to One program, which offers customers a full year of Mac training for an additional fee. This type of customer training creates product experts who are eager and excited to share their knowledge with others.
Not only does the data you collect from your customer training efforts highlight potential brand promoters, but spotting future evangelists also stems from enabling two-way communication within customer training efforts.
For example, training that integrates discussion forums provides outlets for customers to share their thoughts and opinions. As you moderate the discussion posts, identify potential evangelists by tracking those who are most vocal in the forums.
In many cases, customers who are open to sharing during discussions truly care about helping you improve your product or service, and display the extrovertedness that evangelists are known for. If your training content is in the form of courseware, then choosing a learning platform that comes with discussion tools is crucial for your customer success program.
Overall, the training your company creates should communicate an underlying message to your customers: your company cares about creating worthwhile learning to help them solve their problems, both regarding your product, as well as how they achieve their goals by using it. This results in brand evangelists who care about your brand because they believe your brand cares about them.