Take a moment and imagine being able to identify people willing to help you market your products and services for free.  Imagine developing brand advocates who would freely spread the word about just how amazing you are.  And they would do this with no strings, no trades, and no gift cards.

Your brand advocates (aka fans of you and your business) want to help you simply because they are passionate about your apartment community and the customer experience you consistently provide.

A true brand advocate often begins as a highly satisfied resident. These residents who develop into brand advocates are priceless to you.  They will promote you solely for the sake of helping others. They don’t even realize they are out there selling for you.

And believe it or not, it is not hard to create a community full of residents who are brand advocates.  It just takes a little time.

When you create a culture focused on your residents, you create a culture of excellent customer service that encourages advocates. Identifying and working alongside your advocates is a requirement for successful marketing and operations in today’s business world.  Traditional marketing and branding and word of mouth influence customer behavior.  We need to inspire loyalty and enthusiasm in our residents if we want to create brand advocates who will sing our praises to everyone they know.

When I talk with business managers about developing brand advocates, the first question I get asked is always “How do I find residents to help me?”  Well, guess what?  You don’t find residents to help you.  You help residents.  You create a customer experience and a community worth talking about.

When residents talk, and they will, make sure you are listening. (This also includes listening the old fashion way, because word of mouth marketing still happens offline too.) Observe the resulting customer behavior.  Have conversations, ask questions, and demonstrate you truly care about what they share with you, their friends, and their network.  Engage with them!

Developing Brand AdvocatesAdvocacy is not reserved only for residents and prospects.  Your employees are actually your most powerful advocates.  The happiness of your residents often correlates directly with the happiness of your employees.  Have you made your employees aware of your mission to provide a great customer experience? Do they buy-in to your mission of developing brand advocates? How is this reflected in their performance?

Lastly, don’t be reluctant to work alongside your best residents.  Simply creating traditional marketing campaigns or programs to develop brand advocates does not work.  If you engage with your advocates, involve them in the creative process alongside your team, you will not only encourage them to keep spreading the good word, but you will learn the best ways to help them do it.  Your fans are an extension of you and your community – and your prospects are listening to them.

 

Misty Sanford
Social Insight Thought Leader
Renter’s Voice

 

 

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