Visual Content Amplifies Your Building Products Marketing Message

Nov 3 Visual content amplifiesWhen it comes to effective building products marketing, the creation and dissemination of relevant and compelling content continues to reign supreme.

What makes content relevant and compelling hinges on the quality of the marketing message. That message can be communicated in any number of ways.

The way most of your industry (heck, most of the business world) is communicating their message is with words. The problem with this is that it creates a literal information traffic jam for your buyers.

The good news is that there is another way, which is to deliver that message or amplify it with visual content.

Visual content could well be the secret sauce you’ve been seeking to juice up your marketing plan. Research has shown that our brains process visual images much faster and more easily than words – written or spoken. And reportedly, most of the information received by our brains (90 percent) actually is visual.

In addition to faster, easier processing (or perhaps because of it) visual content is also more shareable. Visual building products marketing content such as photos, videos, infographics and even visual “memes” may prove effective within a campaign, on your social media platforms, and on your website.

Here’s how to best leverage four types of visual content for building product marketing:

Photos. Pictures stir emotions, and one image can convey an entire story. Photos engage customers right away. They establish a connection, which makes your brand personal and (hopefully) beautifully capture the essence of your offering.

Videos. Videos are generally the most preferred form of visual content. People love them. In fact, according to EyeView Digital, videos that appear on landing pages increase average page conversion rates by 86 percent. Videos quickly tell your story and can offer instruction, a bit of play for viewers or a little of both.

Infographics. A relatively new form of visual content, infographics are among the most shareable. Statistics show that businesses that use infographics in marketing gain an increase of 12 percent on average in the traffic to their sites. To create them you can contract with a freelancer or use use free online resources such as Canva.com, or paid sites such as KISSmetrics.com, both of which allow you to create them fairly easily.

Memes. Those hilarious pictures or images with clever text (some of which immediately go viral) can provide humor along with value to customers. They’re easily shareable, easy to create, generate traffic and visibility, plus they’re highly engaging. (Just make sure your audience will understand the meme and think it’s funny.) Consider trying Memegen.com or Imgflip.com.

Words might dominate building products marketing at present, but now you know another, faster and more powerful way to connect with your buyers. Photos, videos, infographics, memes, or simply adding clarifying visual elements to existing text can amplify the effectiveness of your building products marketing and enable buyers to more quickly and deeply grasp how your offering can enhance the quality of their homes and ultimately, their lives.

Photo credit:  thinkspace.com

LEED Professionals Add Value to Building Products Marketing

Nov 2 LEED professionals add valueIf IKEA’s chief sustainability officer Steve Howard is to be believed, we need to “go all-in on selling sustainability.” It’s not enough to just talk the talk—being knowledgeable about sustainability and selling this to your customers. It’s also about walking the walk—making it an intrinsic part of your organization by ensuring that credentialed LEED professionals are key members of the team.

Green or sustainable design has become the standard in building, and its growth will only continue. Reports from the McGraw-Hill Construction’s Outlook 2014 Executive Conference reveal that in 2013, 44 percent of all U.S. non-residential projects were green. In 2014, it’s projected that nearly 50 percent will be green building projects.

Projects aiming for LEED certification require a certain level of expertise, particularly when it comes to materials and products used, which means the demand for LEED professionals will grow along with it. To stay competitive—and relevant—to the building products industry, it’s now more important than ever to have LEED accredited professionals in your organization.

LEED expertise as a credentialed professional is one of the most sought after skills. The U.S. Green Building Council reports that in a study of U.S. job postings, the demand for LEED accredited professional (LEED AP) and LEED Green Associate credentials grew 46 percent over a one-year period. Since LEED is quickly becoming the gold standard, these are the leaders in your organization who will help advance the industry, continue educating customers and keep your business and brand relevant.

Here are the top five ways having LEED credentialed professionals in your organization benefits the business:

Business growth. Having this knowledge base within your manufacturing business adds to the bottom line. According to the 2013 Dodge Construction Green Outlook, nearly 70 percent of firm execs said having a green credentialed workforce enabled them to grow their green business.

Relevancy and competitiveness are baked in. These professionals help drive business value. With required continuing education and staying current on the latest in sustainability, LEED professionals have a greater understanding of customers’ needs and are better able to help your organization address them over time. They also serve as sustainability ambassadors who can relay the importance of this concept to internal clients and stakeholders.

Credibility increases. By having LEED credentialed professionals in your organization, you will be seen as a go-to source for LEED knowledge and expertise.

Transparency and authenticity demonstrated. Organizations that invest in their employees by supporting them as LEED credentialed professionals or work closely with marketing professionals who have these credentials show a commitment to sustainability as a companywide priority and to well-trained employees to meet the changing needs of the marketplace.

Expertise is proven. The LEED program is standards-based. Having access to a demonstrated knowledge of the LEED rating system and green building practices means your organization can help customers achieve their LEED goals. These credentialed professionals can offer suggestions on ways your customers can earn credits without incurring additional costs and identify opportunities for savings in other areas.

Consider credentialed LEED professionals in your organization as key value-added components of your business and a smart investment in the future of your enterprise.

 

Photo credit:  thinkspace.com

Why Your Building Product Content Needs Social Media (and Vice Versa)

Nov 1 why you building product content vice versaiHaving your building product social media and content strategy efforts work in tandem will support business objectives, engage audiences and produce more meaningful results. 

According to Content Marketing Institute’s latest research, business marketers are working on an average of 13 content marketing initiatives and 69% are producing more engaging content. It seems there’s no slowing down the content marketing train anytime soon!

In a recent webinar I attended, How to Integrate Social Media and Content Strategy, moderator Jay Baer posed the question, “Which comes first, content or social media strategy?” As content production continues to increase, more and more marketers struggle with this question.

Content is fire, social media is the gasoline. –Jay Baer

When working together, content marketing and social media are a powerful duo. With an understanding of how and where to share information, content can be distributed strategically to drive action. Also, content created with an understanding of the strengths of specific social networks gives you the ability to drive conversations around relevant topics.

Social media needs content strategy. 

Social media is a prolific medium that moves–and fades–fast. It happens quickly whether it’s organic content or a paid media promotion.

Content strategy needs social media. 

Content needs social media in order to validate the strategy, tie it back to objectives, establish meaningful connections and produce desired outcomes.

Use social media to promote great content first and company selling messages second. The social medium was never intended to be the world’s shortest press release. Think value and customer-centric content over hype. Understand what your building product audience needs from you and deliver it.

Addressing your building product customers’ needs and pain points will pay off in content quality, site performance, social engagement and conversions. 

To answer Jay’s question: you can’t succeed in social media if you don’t have something interesting to say. Social media needs content strategy.

View the entire Content Marketing Institute survey: New B2B Content Marketing Research: Focus on Documenting Your Strategy

Photo credit: Cristian Iohan Ştefănescu via flickr 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Marketing Green Building Products

Oct 4 Do's and Don'ts
The key to success in marketing green building products is gaining trust and keeping mind share with building decision makers. 

No matter how great your product is it’s the marketing that determines the sale. To build a successful company, you need a great building product. But having a great product doesn’t lead to success by itself. You can have the right product for the right market and still fail because no one knows you exist. You have to stay focused on marketing at every stage of your business.

Below I’ve assembled a list of do’s, and don’ts, to help reach your audience and gain trust with them.

Don’t Do This. 

Green promotion requires companies to be honest with buyers and not mislead them by over promising. An important piece of advice I’d like to share with you pertains to “greenwashing.” In this industry, the potential to confuse consumers of your products with misleading green claims is high. Green issues are highly technical, fast moving and complex. If your claims are unclear, then you risk being labeled a greenwasher, which can seriously damage your company’s credibility.

To avoid making misleading environmental claims, make a commitment to abide by the FTC’s Green Guides. Also, make sure the claims you make about your building products’ benefits are backed by third party testing. While the energy efficiency of a product is dependent on a building’s climate, size, location, construction, and other factors, make sure you do the legwork to provide an accurate estimate.

There are quite a few recent cases where the FTC fined business owners for making “deceptive and unsubstantiated” claims about the energy and cost efficiency of their products. The fines associated with these cases range from $150,000 to $350,000.

Do This. 

Since you know who is most likely to buy green building products, then you know where they go online, where they assemble in groups, etc. Below are what I consider to be basic prerequisites for marketing green building products.

Promote on Your Website.

Since so many buyers are self educating on the web, it’s important that your LEED certification information is easily accessible–by this I mean easy to find–on your website. You might consider producing a downloadable PDF that explains which LEED prerequisites and/or credits your product may be able to earn. This information needs to be clear and state why your building product is LEED-appropriate.

Participate in Green Building Conferences and Expos. 

Greenbuild International Conference and Expo is the largest green building conference in the world. It features three days of speakers, industry showcases, networking opportunities, LEED workshops and tours of the city’s green buildings. The tens of thousands of attendees include architects, builders/contractors, building owners, code officials, developers, engineers and other groups.

BuildingEnergy is a cross-disciplinary conference and trade show in the northeastern U.S. put on by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. It presents 10 to 12 areas of focus on renewables and high-performance building to thousands of attendees, including engineers, builders, developers, policymakers, building managers, manufacturers, installers and others.

For a complete listing of green building events, visit GreenBiz.com or BuildingGreen.com.

Get Listed in Products Databases for Green Building.

EcoScorecard is a web-based tool that helps architects and designers measure the environmental impact of products and materials against LEED, CHPS, REGREEN, Green Globes and the Green Guide for Healthcare on a credit-by-credit basis. The goal of EcoScorecard is to make the search for green products easier and more efficient for the consumer. It’s also free for users since manufacturers pay for EcoScorecard.

GreenSpec is BuildingGreen’s online guide that lists over 2,200 green building products that meet the guidelines described in Environmental Building News (BuildingGreen.com’s publication). The difference between GreenSpec and EcoScorecard is that product manufacturers can’t pay to list their green building products. GreenSpec editors select products to feature in the guide. You can submit a product suggestion, but there is no guarantee that your product will be listed.

Learn more about the FTC’s Green Guides here.

Photo credit: Bryan Rosengrant via flickr creative commons license

Building Products Marketers Reap Benefits as Champions for Health

Oct 3 Reap BenefitsThe connection between public health and the built environment  isn’t always obvious. However, when unseen toxic chemical, biological and physical agents exist in and around the built environments we live and work in, they can make us sick.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 20 percent of the United States and 20 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s population is exposed to Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). People contract SBS after exposure to chemical, biological or physical agents believed to be found in buildings.

Improving the quality of our work and living spaces is paramount to public health, and building products marketers have an opportunity to play a key leadership role in these efforts, which can be challenging to achieve. Urban Land Institute’s “Ten Principles for Building Health Places” research explains that this requires work within the community and a shared vision to cultivate and develop healthy spaces for the public.

Here are five strategies based on some of ULI’s principles that will help you champion health to benefit communities:

Get the word out about the benefits. Ensure that everyone who’s a stakeholder understands the full value of healthy spaces, including personal, economic and social. As the champion, ask questions such as who benefits and what improvements will be realized with these changes. Find opportunities to connect with the community about the value proposition.

Partner with your community for collective action. Use a grassroots approach to work with community leaders who can help lead the charge, identify areas of need and who can help organize. Seek them out and identify them to serve as your public health ambassadors for healthy spaces. Invite them to connect with you through social media, via email marketing or for community events.

Be inclusive. Don’t overlook segments of the community. Health is a value that’s important to everyone so broaden the appeal of your message. Make sure that it targets a mix of backgrounds, socioeconomic levels and ages.

Prop up your brand as a proponent of health. Since everyone cares about their own personal health as well as that of their friends and families, make sure that your communication plan ties your brand to health and healthy spaces. Maybe it’s as simple as creating a hashtag that says #PuttingHealthFirst on your social media messaging or sponsoring a health-related contest or sweepstakes.

Consider out-of-the-ordinary partnerships. Find ways to collaborate with partners that will share your value of health, but who perhaps may not have been a traditional partner in the past. Connecting with the medical community in some way may now make more sense. Exhibiting at a medical-related trade show or participating in a community event that involves members of a neighborhood, health care workers and public officials are possible opportunities.

Building product marketers who make public health a part of how they do business can become a powerful force in achieving positive health outcomes for the public. In turn, the public will gratefully reward them, not just with public praise but also with their loyalty for (healthier) years to come.

Photo credit:  Thinkstock.com

The 411 on LEED in Green Building Product Marketing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMarketers seeking to have building products applied to the LEED® Rating System need to have a thorough understanding of the system, the credits that apply to their products and the certification process as a whole. 

The green building industry continues to grow because of environmental concerns, tax subsidies, savings in operational costs and the rising popularity of LEED.

According to Environmental Leader/Environment & Energy Management News, there are 17,434 certified commercial and institutional projects, representing 2.3 billion square feet. There are also another 29,599 registered (pursuing LEED but not yet certified) projects, representing 4.4 billion square feet.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a set of building rating systems for buildings of all types – commercial, residential and neighborhood communities. It works throughout the building lifecycle–design and construction, operations and maintenance, tenant fitout and significant retrofit.

The five rating systems address multiple project types, such as:

  • Building design and construction
  • Interior design and construction
  • Building operations and maintenance
  • Neighborhood development
  • Homes

LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and is intended to help building owners use resources more efficiently when compared to conventional buildings. LEED certification provides third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Innovation

Although building materials play a fairly substantial role within the LEED Rating System, LEED does not certify green building products. It certifies buildings. To receive certification, building projects must satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve one of the four levels of certification–certified, silver, gold and platinum.

The majority of building products will contribute to achieving LEED points through performance-based requirements. Some points will necessitate assessing the aggregate environmental or health value of a set of products and other points will require that certain limits or minimums be met.

In November 2013, the most recent update to the rating systems launched, LEED v4. This version allows for a wider range of building types and manufacturing industries. It also encourages optimization of energy and water use and furthers environmental issues like climate change.

Category5 CEO and owner Lori Malone is a LEED® Green Associate. The GBCI (Green Building Certification Institute) awards these nationally recognized certifications to confirm that an individual demonstrates knowledge and understanding of green building practices and principles needed to support the use of the LEED® Green Building Rating System.

Photo credit: Daniel Lobo via flickr

View the complete LEED Rating System.

View the entire list of credit categories.

Why Healthy Living Spaces Should Matter to Building Products Marketers

Oct 1 Healthy Living SpacesIf your goal is wellness (and whose isn’t?), you know eating healthy food and exercising are a big part of the equation. It’s just as important, however, to make sure the space you live in is healthy for you.   

To find out what healthy living spaces really mean and why they are a win-win for both consumers and green building products manufacturers, CMO-Scan spoke to Jillian Pritchard Cooke, founder of the Wellness Within Your Walls concept, and president of Atlanta-based interior design firm DES-SYN.

Q: Why did you feel Wellness Within Your Walls was important to bring to life now?

A: The [Wellness Within Your Walls] program has been in the planning stages for about eight years. DES-SYN was involved in the first LEED Certified Gold home in the country. Our first clients were husband and wife Laura Turner Seydel (Ted Turner’s daughter) and Rutherford Seydel and building what is now EcoManor.

Laura was interested in the design and function of the space. Rutherford was interested in the systems such as the geothermal, solar panels, and graywater systems with a desire to have them be the best they could be.

While working on this project, I also was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer so I began to think about the toxic side of building and decided to champion the healthier side of building. LEED was big at the time, and there were conflicting choices related to health, which were overwhelming to consumers. I decided to try to simplify the information, and that’s been a real focus—simplifying information from the manufacturer, the builder and the designer to the consumer.

Q: How has Wellness Within Your Walls impacted how you do business?

A: EcoManor met the LEED certification program requirements. We were very creative in the design and execution of the home to garnish additional points to meet the gold level status.

One challenge we had was that LEED deducts points for spaces over 5,000 square feet. The Seydels, a family of five, wanted to accommodate visiting guests and their family, and in order to do so, they built the house to be greater than 5,000 square feet.

We purposefully filled the home with healthy, non-toxic furnishings and interior building materials that told the story on how to reduce harmful toxins. Those purposeful choices helped us reach LEED Gold level. Marilyn Black from GreenGuard was instrumental. She worked closely with the Seydels and our design team to ensure that formaldehyde and other toxin levels erred on the side of safe.

At the time of installation, we used AMF Safecoat low-VOC paint. (Shortly after the installation many other paints became available that were no-VOC). EcoManor became the genesis of Wellness Within Your Walls (WWYW). Now our clients request that we design to the WWYW standard. This has increased our business exponentially.

Q: What lesson or takeaway is there from this model for building products marketers?

A: We’ve created four CEU (continuing education unit) credit courses available through IIDA and ASID that fall under the health and safety heading of the CEU courses. Anyone can take the four courses, which is followed by a test. If you pass, then you’re eligible for WWYW designation.

The intent is that manufacturers of home building products and furnishings would adhere to producing natural products free of toxins, sustainable products free of toxins or produce products in a responsible way, by using transparency, accountability, safety data sheets, and adequate labeling. Labeling relates to, for example, if you bring a product in your home with chemicals, what are the off-gassing procedures you should put in place so toxins don’t come into the home environment?

Q: Do you personally practice what you preach?

A: I live in a 100-year-old, 2,100 square foot house with hardwood floors. I have no pesticides in the garden so my pets don’t bring it in the house with them when they come inside. I clean with non-toxic cleaning materials. I believe in steaming to reduce germs. I believe in fresh air so all the windows in the house are operable. I have additional ventilation systems to reduce dust mites at different times of the year. I only burn soy and beeswax candles, and we clean our vents regularly. In addition, I use no-VOC paints and off-gas before I bring anything into our home.

Q: How are you expanding your Wellness Within Your Walls concept into the community?

A: We have set a goal of 50 states in 500 days. We are educating builders, contractors and designers through IIDA, ASID and NAHB. This is an organized, requested event that takes place in major cities. So far, we have already taught in Dallas; Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; and we’re going to Asheville, N.C. We’re also setting up dates in Louisiana, Chicago and New York. We are looking for ambassadors for the national program. As an ambassador, if you help WWYW plan the event, you can sit in on our four CEU classes at no cost and get your WWYW designation.

The response to this tour has been good. Retailers have been excited, wanting to fill their shops with products that meet the standards. We have also partnered with the Sustainable Furnishing Council (SFC), the NAHB, the UL GreenGuard certification program and other organizations concerned with sustainability that have a health platform. Our program offerings are solution-based and hinge on research-based programs.

Q: What do you feel is the next step for building product marketers with regard to your three categories of Natural, Sustainable and Responsible?

A: I think we are starting to see transparency, and with that comes accountability and proper labeling. I don’t think this is any different than the farm to table movement, where the consumers asked for it and the food industry responded.

The same applies to the building products industry. Consumers have asked for it, and home building manufacturers have no choice but to respond to the demand. Given a choice between a product that doesn’t disclose what it’s made of vs. products that do disclose and how to mediate and mitigate toxins makes them solution-based, and that’s what consumers are looking for.

Building products manufacturers all have choices as it relates to producing products that are safe, which is socially responsible.

Photo credit:  thinkspace.com

6 Steps to Kick Start Your Building Product Content Marketing

Sept 4  6 steps 4603916996_39fc545a89_mSmart building product marketers understand that rather than using outdated methods of outbound marketing, content marketing builds trust with and attracts buyers. 

Buyers have virtually shut off the traditional world of marketing and chosen messaging that makes them stop, think and behave differently. And with content marketing now a cornerstone of inbound marketing efforts in building product marketing, what do you need to get started? A carefully planned strategy and well-coordinated implementation.

In content efforts we manage for clients, we’ve discovered six steps that will kick your content plan into high gear.

Define your audience. If your plan is to talk to everyone, think again. That net is much too wide. Who is your target audience? Defining it is a key first step to take before one piece of content is created.

Build personas. This task is fairly simple. Identify the attributes needed for someone to be your buyer. The goal is to describe who you will attempt to write for or who might already be reading your content. This exercise will help personalize your writing, identify ways to connect with your buyer and create more practical content with their needs in mind.

Determine digital footprint. How will you distribute your building product content? Even before you create it, decide where it will be hosted and published. A website or microsite is one of the more common platforms because your content can be disseminated through a blog, webinars, photo gallery, videos, podcasts, Tweet Chats, etc. Let social media play the role of distributor, as it can extend the reach of your content and foster authentic conversations with your buyers.

Do your homework on keywords. Knowing what words users type when they are searching for building product information is of the utmost importance. Do the research and choose words with the highest number of monthly searches and the lowest competition.

Think like a building product publisher. Publishers use editorial calendars to monitor dates, track specifics of content ideas and keep content consistent and relevant. These tools also allow you to see connections within your content and identify ways to repurpose it.

Report, analyze and adjust. One of inbound marketing’s biggest benefits is the ability to track and measure the progress you are making to see what is and isn’t working. Then you can adapt to optimize results.

Photo credit: Cameron Russell via flickr

Think Your Building Product Content Is Being Read? Think Again

Sept 3 think_your_contentWriting less and styling text so it’s easy to read are two ways to attract and hold the attention of your building product customers and prospects. 

Thanks to Jakob Nielson and his web usability studies, we’ve known for a long time that web users scan content rather than read it. We also know, thanks to real-time analytics, that there’s a pretty good chance you won’t finish this article. As a matter of fact, for every 161 people who landed on this page, 61 of you are already gone. In web traffic jargon, you “bounced” and spent no time engaging with this page.

But that’s okay. Losing 38 percent of you is the nature of the online beast. Good riddance, I say, because now we have a friendly, intimate crowd–just me and those of you who want to be here. I still have to accept the fact though, that you would rather scan web pages than read them in detail.

Therefore, there are some things I learned in English composition class I need to forget in order to keep my building product marketing readers tuned in.  I also like to incorporate some easy design techniques that make my content more reader-friendly.

Break up copy. 

To cover complex topics, I like to break up the subject matter into a series of posts. It’s a good way to keep your readers coming back and they’ll find it easier to digest your content if it’s in smaller, snackable pieces.

Write compelling subheads. 

Strong headlines get readers attention. Solid subheads keep readers engaged and help move them through the rest of your content. Compose subheads that are intriguing and informative.

Use bullets. 

Bullet lists provide an easy, scannable way to present multiple points in your content. I recommend using them as much as possible due to the fact it provides a break for the reader’s eye.

Format strategically. 

Emphasize important concepts in your web copy by bolding them. You want your reader to be able to scan and take away the most important points at a glance. Highlight only the main points so your reader can quickly pick them out.

Use odd numbered lists. 

Numbers are an effective way to capture attention and keep your reader interested. Large chunks of information broken up into odd-numbered facts, as research shows, helps the brain process information in manageable pieces.

While content is important, if it isn’t commanding attention, your building product prospects won’t stick around to hear what you have to say.  Incorporate these tips into your writing to attract and hold attention.

Photo credit: Moyan Brenn via flickr

3 Ways Building Products Marketers Can Turn Customers Into Brand Advocates

Sept 2 Brand AdvocatesBefore making a purchase, you want to be sure you’re making the right decision. The same rings true for your customers. Oftentimes that means seeking out the advice of people who already made the purchase and can offer some perspective and insights. These are individuals who are familiar with a product, can speak about it thoroughly—and champion the company as well. Enter brand advocates.

Start with knowledgeable customers who are thoroughly satisfied, essentially brand loyalists, and you have brand advocates in the making. Brand advocates can be cultivated—if you know the right way to do it.

Here are three ways to convert your brand loyalists into brand advocates:

Find out where they’re hiding
Monitor your social platforms to find those customers who are truly engaged with your brand and follow them. Look for customers who constantly have good things to say about your brand. Seek out brand enthusiasts who consistently take to social media to mention your name, say positive things about your products, and share content from your social media sites with their network.

Another possible source of brand advocates are self-appointed power users who love to teach others how to best use your products and offer guidance. These are  people who help others with technical challenges or explain how they can maximize the value of your product offerings. Power users tend to congregate in online communities and user meetups where they can have more direct, and lengthier, on-topic conversations.

Reach out to these sources and find out if they’d be willing to take on the role of brand advocate by burnishing your brand via social media or even heading up and moderating brand-sponsored user groups. Start the relationship by asking for a follow on Twitter or participating in blog comments. Once you’ve established a rapport (and assessed their interest) you can expand the conversation and explore additional possibilities.

Give them a platform
The value of brand advocates is that they are out there freely endorsing your brand. Their actions enable you to gain credibility, garner loyalty and grow your customer base. Why not make it even easier for brand advocates to propel your brand forward by giving them a proper forum.

Designate a space for them to share their voice and their experiences with your product. Make them a contributor to your blog, recruit them to answer questions during a Twitter chat, or moderate a Google+ Hangout. Provide them with ways  to deeply engage with your community and gain their acceptance.

Make it worth their while
To properly reward your brand advocates, you’ll need to think beyond a gift card or product discount. A better way to acknowledge their efforts is to offer an exclusive experience or an opportunity that will help them build their profile.

This could be a speaking opportunity at an upcoming conference, a chance for a sneak peak at a soon-to-be-released product, or an invitation to meet with your chief executive officer or product managers and contribute insights and feedback.

Brand advocates want everyone they meet to experience the value your brand has provided to them. The presence of brand advocates means your brand is doing it right. Maximize the benefits of your success by cultivating those customers who can’t wait to tell others just how right you are—for them.

 

Photo credit:  thinkstock.com