So you've got brand advocates (great!), and now you want to reward them.
But perhaps you don't have $100 lying around to hand out to every single user who is pushing your brand.
Or maybe, you just want to be a bit more creative than that. After all, you know what it's like to receive money as a gift (I'm looking at you grandma!) - lame right?
What, therefore, are ways you can build a connection with your brand advocates on a budget? Here are some ideas.
Include Them In The Product Planning Process
One of the most flattering things you can is to ask someone for advice. It's a statement that says, I appreciate and respect your opinion, and it goes a long way towards building a relationship with someone.
To take it a step further, instead of just asking for advice once, involve them in your planning process. Hold meetings and discussions with them around new features and the product roadmap so that they can give input and prioritize development.
Trust me, you'll be surprised, and thankful, with the ideas people present forward in regards to a product they actually use.
I know this first hand from building software that although you may think you have considered every possible use case for a feature, there is always something your users will surprise you with:
The image above is a user schooling me on my own feature, when I presented him with the design specs.
Offer Them Products And Services In Advance
After they've contributed to the planning phase, how can you further reward them?
Give them the end product ahead of time.
For example, let's say that you have a new feature you're releasing - why not make it accessible only to a few accounts?
This is a great way to bug test it with someone who is naturally going to be more understanding than a typical user who was not involved in the planning process.
Or, if it's a product, send it to them personally before you release it to the general public.
In this way they get something no one else has, and psychologically it will draw them closer to the brand.
Feature Them As Case Studies And Testimonials
One way to improve your marketing while, also catering to your best customers is to feature them. Some great places to feature them are:
- A testimonial on your website.
- A case study in a blog post.
- Bringing them on your podcast, if you have one.
- Asking them to write a review
Ramit does a fantastic job at this.
Whenever he launches a new course he always invites a few people to take it ahead of time and positions them as brand advocates for his marketing campaigns. These people appear in his blog posts, on podcasts, and even create their own sites and reviews.
Personalized Cards And Gifts
The first time I heard of a company sending its customers a personalized card was in an interview with Wufoo, who in their first year sent everyone a christmas card.
Let's face it - most people don't send personalized Christmas cards anymore. I don't even think my relatives send me Christmas cards, let alone a company.
I thought it was revolutionary, and to some degree it is, but they are also not the only company to do this.
FreshBooks, for example, send their customers cakes on their birthdays.
Is it a lot of work?
But, how would you feel to receive a cake on your birthday and a Christmas card in the mail?
Invite Them To Host A Contest Or Giveaway
Free cakes are nice, but perhaps more than that your customers simply want more of your service/product.
I like to give them something that will allow them to score points with their audience, like a free account to give away.
A plugin I love to use for this is KingSumo, which rewards giveaway participants with extra entries for sharing the giveaway.
Setting up a giveaway is super simple and can be done in less than 30 minutes if you have images ready. All you have to do is set up the landing page and put a widget in your sidebar.
Have you invited any of your brand advocates to run a giveaway?
Give Them Swag
Swag is certainly not free, but it is one of those things where for the relatively low cost of a $25 t shirt you can really send a message of appreciation.
This is something Nathan Barry did as he writes How To Create T Shirts For Your Startup, where he created t shirts for his team so they could represent his brand ConvertKit.
I think that this tactic is particularly poignant if, for example, you are hosting a conference or attending a networking event, where there is a place for people to show off the shirts.
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* Lead image adapted from wvs