As marketers, we spend loads of time, money and effort working to create new leads for the top of the marketing and sales funnel. At first glance, this makes perfect sense – the more people you put into the top of your funnel as leads, the more will ultimately come out of the bottom as closed deals.
But here’s the problem: For just about every market segment, the top of the funnel (awareness & interest) is incredibly crowded and cluttered. Businesses are sending scads of emails, running display ads, exhibiting and trade shows, and every other marketing tactic under the sun to get prospects into their funnel. And most of the people they market to aren’t interested in the product/service they sell and don’t care, so the majority of the money and effort is wasted trying to find that small percentage of prospects that do care and are ready to buy.
While there will always be a need to run these types of marketing campaigns to keep the sales engine fed, there is an easier way: Let your customers do the work for you. At Trada, by far our least expensive and most highly converting leads come from referrals that are either customers or “friends” of Trada. These leads have already demonstrated a need for help with their paid search campaign or their friend/colleague wouldn’t have mentioned us in the first place. And they’ve already been pre-marketed to through their friend’s endorsement. Marketing guru Seth Goden described this best in his blog post “Flipping the Funnel” by suggesting that what you’re really trying to do is flip your funnel into a megaphone – creating a customer base that loves to talk about your amazing company and all the ways your product solves their problem.
The great thing is that it’s never been easier for your customers to talk into a megaphone. Blogs, Twitter and Facebook give them an incredibly loud voice to tell the world how great your company is. You should encourage them to do so when appropriate. And there are lots of other things you can do to help them endorse you. A Flip camera costs a couple hundred dollars and is simple to use. Buy one and mail it to customers with a pre-paid return envelope (and a t-shirt). Ask them to video themselves for 90 seconds talking about their experience with your company. This becomes great content for your website and/or blog. Get creative – there are lots of ways you can help your customers to spread the word about your company.
But there’s a catch: In order to have customers that want to tell their friends and colleagues about your product, their experience with your company has to be remarkable. It definitely can’t suck, and just being “fine” isn’t good enough either. For people to tell their friends, they have to love your product and what it does for them. They have to love your sales team, and your support staff. They’re not going to put their reputation on the line and recommend “eh”. They’ll only recommend “WOW!” Achieving “WOW!” takes a concerted effort from your entire organization – it can’t be done in marketing alone. But if you can get there, you’ll have customers that will help fill your funnel with targeted, highly qualified and highly converting sales leads that your sales reps will clamor for.
What are some of the ways you’ve made your customers raving fans, and how have you helped them get the word out? Leave your ideas in the comments section below.