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Using Brand Ambassadors to Grow Your Business: A Comprehensive Guide

As a marketing coach for small business owners, I’ve seen firsthand the power of highly motivated fans in growing a business. These passionate advocates can help spread the word about your brand, drive sales, and even provide valuable feedback to help you improve your products and services. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about leveraging your fans’ enthusiasm to build a loyal community of brand ambassadors.

Building a Foundation: Identifying Your Ideal Fan Profile

The first step in leveraging your fans’ enthusiasm is identifying who your ideal fans are. This means understanding their demographic information, their interests, and their values. By understanding your fans’ motivations, you can create content and messaging that resonates with them, and build a community that feels authentic and engaging.

How do we do this? First, when you get people commenting on your posts a lot, go check out their profiles. Invest time learning about them (by asking them, not by going into a full blown stalk!) 

Make notes of commonalities. It’s important also to check if your fans are “aspirational” clients, are industry related, are not related in any way, or are potential clients. Many I find fit into the first two categories for us.

One of the key parts in understanding your fans is to post content that is outside your direct niche, and finding out what sort of content resonates with people enough to then engage more on your niche content. For example: in my Facebook group I discovered people were pretty passionate about my thoughts of giving up coffee! I’ve also found talking about the books I love reading (Australian thrillers in case you want to know) or sharing pics of my dogs help build a profile of who your fans are. 

Creating Engaging Content: Strategies for Capturing Fans’ Attention

Once you’ve identified your ideal fans, it’s time to create content that captures their attention. This means developing a content strategy that includes a mix of blog posts, social media updates, videos, and other types of content that your fans will find valuable and shareable. It’s important to create content that is both informative and entertaining, and that speaks directly to your fans’ needs and interests.

That’s all pretty general! But what it means for me is giving people a range of different ways to connect depending on who they are. We all have a bias about the type of content we LIKE to create. But that doesn’t mean our fans share the same type. Stretching yourself to create a range of content helps “touch” your fans in a range of ways, and helps them find multiple touchpoints to connect with you on. 

The entertainment or “light” content aspect is key. Even in a serious business, there’s time for fun – and there’s time to help people find easier topics and content to connect with you on. We don’t want people to have to always think too much before commenting.

There are other ways to build this fan base well – a fan of a competitor may also become a fan of yours through your engagement with the competitor’s posts and marketing. Being able to voice your own thoughts can help people filter out what type of people they resonate most with. 

Fostering a Sense of Community: Tactics for Building Relationships

Building a community of highly motivated fans is all about fostering a sense of belonging and connection. This means engaging with your fans on social media, responding to their comments and questions, and even hosting events where they can meet one another and share their experiences. By building a sense of community, you’ll create a group of passionate advocates who feel invested in your brand and want to help spread the word.

However this is not enough if you want to build a community of fans. We use three key platforms of solutions to build community beyond social media. The first is our Facebook group (ok it’s still social media but it’s an opt in private group). Here you can offer extra insights and add a special “members only” touch, sharing more insights and help..

The second is our email list, which is essential for your fans to build a deeper connection with you. I like to share content that is exclusive or at least “first for you” content in this list – I’m not a believer in making it something everyone else can access somehow. 

And the third is my Substack blog – that also goes out to my subscribers. I’ve recently added a private podcast for fans who want to pay a small amount to get it each Wednesday

All of these build community 

Empowering Your Fans: Encouraging User-Generated Content and Advocacy

Ok  – truth talk here. I chose that headline for SEO but isn’t it a pile of jargony ugh?

What this means is – encourage people to create content ABOUT you then share it (and enjoy them sharing it…. And tell other people about you.

This is the greatest gift of a fan and why we don’t want to measure JUST our customers. A fan may never be a customer. They might want to be and can’t afford it, or admire you but not need your services. They can still HELP YOU. 

I will often “surprise and delight” big sharers with treats, free stuff and a bit of my time. I do this in a relaxed way, rather than a “paid you to pay” way – to say thank you

(And saying thankyou in a message is also really important. They are marketing for you!)

Measuring Success: Tracking the ROI of Fan Engagement

As with any marketing strategy, it’s important to measure the return of investment (ROI) of your fan engagement efforts. This means tracking metrics like engagement rates, referral traffic, and sales generated by your fans. By measuring the success of your fan engagement efforts, you can identify areas for improvement and refine your strategy over time.

How we do this at identify is with an engagement score in our marketing automation (Active Campaign) – we rate engagement metrics such as shares, opens, and replies. We can measure who is most engaged with our content and then give those people a little bit more. 

This builds the relationship effectively. 

Sometimes people are fans but not overtly so – so metrics can help you really see what’s going on, at least on digital platforms

We also try to remember asking people “where did you hear about us?” it’s not a pure science – but this can also sometimes show up fans we then will thank personally in an email. This counts!

Overcoming Challenges: Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Of course, there are also common pitfalls to avoid when building a community of highly motivated fans. These include things like failing to respond to negative feedback, relying too heavily on incentives, and failing to provide value to your fans. By understanding these common pitfalls, you can avoid them and create a community that is sustainable and effective.

I used to be terrified of negative feedback, but I’ve grown up a little now. I know most people take a lot of effort to say something negative, especially in NZ and Australia, and I know that it’s worth me having a listen and not getting defensive.

It’s a gift, that gives us the opportunity to improve.

I’ve even had fans tell me to put up my prices! I listened to that one!

I don’t believe in having an incentive programme so we don’t become incentive based, and avoid people who ask for it. I want fans who are fans because they believe in us, not because we are paying them. 

We spend a good amount of time thinking about new ways to feed our past clients and fans to help them stay connected  with us. We don’t like the idea  of them thinking we take them for granted

Next Steps for Building Your Own Community of Highly Motivated Fans

If you want to add a “fan building” strategy to your marketing, here’s your key steps.

  1. Think about what types of fans you need (industry related, aspirational, current customers, or general
  2. Identify “types” from existing fans and check these look like the ones you want
  3. Consciously create content that encourages your fans to engage
  4. Invest time in email marketing that helps build your community, and consider other forms of community building including Facebook groups, meetup and events
  5. Investigate a way to measure engagement levels and lead sources. Measure the ROI, and increase activity in the areas that work best for you.  ( As partners for both ActiveCampaign and Zoho we use both of these across our marketing and sales)
  6. Understand fans will both share your information and love you AND sometimes have constructive feedback. Make sure you listen to them and measure it against your goals and core purpose for business. 

Building a community of brand ambassadors is all about building relationships and providing value. By understanding your fans’ motivations and engaging with them in a meaningful way, you can create a community that is sustainable and effective. So why wait? Start leveraging your fans’ enthusiasm today and see the impact it can have on your business.

(And if you know this is something you need to include into your marketing and you know you need a personalised strategy, get in touch. We’d love to help you.)

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