When theMIX agency helps launch a client onto the market, we often work on getting good customer endorsements we can use in the media and on the client’s website. Without these, a new product or service has no obvious proof of traction—and little reason to be trusted.
But how do you get a customer to give you a glowing quote worth putting on your website? Or even better, talk to the press about how much they love you? Here's five general guidelines to follow:
1. Add a PR stipulation in your customer contracts. If you're a B2B company, put a PR clause into your contracts that addresses items such as the option to mention the customer in press releases, or serve as a marketing/press reference. To be sure, genuine endorsements are the only ones worth using, but it’s still a good idea to introduce this expectation up front. It will also make your life a whole lot easier when you ask a customer to support you on a specific opportunity (see #4).
2. Make endorsements easy. Want a customer to provide a quote for your website? Offer to draft one up for them, so they only need to tweak and approve the basic framework you’ve provided. The less work they have to do, the more likely they’ll follow through. If you’re afraid to put words in their mouth, at minimum give them guidelines for length, tone and specific features to be endorsed. And be sure to point out what’s in it for them: A free opportunity to get their name out there, and drive more traffic to their own site.
3. Talk to the right people. Depending on the position your customer contact holds in an organization, he or she might not have the decision-making power to serve as a reference. If you suspect this is the case, be proactive and ask your customer who else you can talk to about the endorsement. Hint: This is often the company’s PR or marketing head.
4. Bring them a specific opportunity. Simply asking a customer whether they’ll participate in press interviews on your behalf in general is not going to accomplish much. There’s a big difference between a vague request and, say, “Do you have time to talk with InformationWeek this week about how you're using us and the ROI you’ve seen with the product?” Every organization has its own PR objectives and will want to know if a press opportunity fits within them.
5. Say much more than "thank you." If a customer takes the time to support your company, show your appreciation. A gift basket with swag and goodies always goes over well, and will make your customer much more likely to support other activities down the line.
Customers are the best marketing asset you have. Work with them strategically and thoughtfully, and they’ll help promote your company better than you ever could.