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Kathi Kruse

Kathi Kruse President

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How To Turn Your Customers Into a Volunteer Marketing Army

how to turn your customers into a volunteer marketing army“The goal of Social Media is to turn your customers into a volunteer marketing army.” ~Jay Baer, author, The NOW Revolution

It’s not too shabby for your Online Reputation either.  The most-profitable new customers come from referrals by your existing customers.  Your job is to get your customers talking about you. Turn them into a volunteer marketing army and keep a steady stream of word-of-mouth referrals coming into your store.

Let’s talk about something that isn’t new: customer retention.  On average, it costs about 7 times more to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one. Most dealerships own a valuable customer database and many don’t use it to its full potential.  These customers have bought from you before, some many times over. What better group to start with in recruiting your army?

Even though dealerships are brick and mortar establishments, owners and GM’s are recognizing that Social commerce has a substantial affect on their sales.  Thanks to Social Media and online ratings sites, customers are connected and they share experiences like never before. Dealers must now utilize Social Media to grow and interact with their customer.  Get them talking about what it’s like doing business with you.

The Proof is in Your Process

What percentage of your overall marketing budget is dedicated to customer retention strategies?  In a recent post from The Social CMO, Steve Olenski spotlights a recent survey that said 60% of responding business owners dedicate less than 20% of their budget to customer retention. The way people buy cars has changed more in the past 3 years than in the prior 50 and actions must be taken as a consequence of that change. It’s a dance between you, your customer and the technology that facilitates your communication.

Internal communication is first.  Examine how your current process welcomes a customer to engage with you, online or off.  What would an ideal process look like in your store?

  • Trained front-line personnel consistently aware of opportunities to engage your customer
  • Employees are immersed in the proper language of asking for online “referrals”
  • Programs are installed to motivate, recognize and reward employees for meeting goals
  • Customer appreciation is part of your culture

Welcome Employee Participation

What percentage of your employees are focused on driving customer retention?  With the rise of Social customers, who have no problem expressing their opinions online, it’s even more important now to have a dedicated internal Community Manager.  Social Media is part marketing, part advertising, a dash of PR and good size helping of customer service.  Writing content, listening, engaging and executing the strategies around all that requires a kingpin.  They are the liaison between you, your customer and your staff.

You must enlist front-line employees in Social Media.  They are the ones who talk to your customer every day. Heck, some of your staff are probably already becoming online influencers in their own right.  Seek out the ones who have a true passion for it and leverage that.  Provide education to fill in the missing pieces to the puzzle.  Social Media is driven by awesome content and your staff has access to it everyday though your customer’s contributions.

Make Social Media education and immersion part of your employee orientation and ongoing training.

Every team member on the front lines is a representative of your brand.  Build your team as though they have the potential and opportunity to nurture the customer base you’re trying to build…because they do!  It’s about recognition:  Appreciate your staff and your customers for their contributions.  It keeps them connected, enthusiastic and vocal.

Activate Your Fans, Don’t Just Collect Them Like Baseball Cards

Now here’s where the rubber meets the road.  Building your volunteer marketing army requires attention paid to every transaction, every interaction, that happens with your customer and honoring it with appreciation.  You want them to WANT to talk about you.  Every dealership has the basis for customer retention and satisfaction process and now is the time to build on that.  Use Social Media to attract your repeat customers.  Engage them in conversations.  Ask for their contributions.  You have the power, it’s time to exercise it.

Kathi Kruse
Social Media Coaching & Training



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