How to Find Passionate Business Advocates

A knack that often eludes business owners, is to build a group of people who believe passionately in what they are doing.  These passionate business advocates are the key to making your business successful.

Why You Need Passionate Advocates

This follows on from the need to narrow your market.  A focused market, so that your natural market recognises you offer a solution to their problem, is essential.  If you believe everyone qualifies, you are actually confusing two things.

Positive and Negative Discrimination

Many people with a third-sector background are intent upon not being guilty of discrimination.  This is sometimes called political correctness.  The usage is often pejorative, used to disparage the motives of those who exercise it.  I prefer a more old-fashioned designation.  It is courtesy.  Perhaps this downplays its importance and that is what I want to do in the context of business.

Once you have identified your market, nothing else should stand in the way of finding those who are a part of it.  If you want to be prejudiced on grounds of race, sex, age, sexuality, etc, you will alienate some of your market.  If you attempt to exploit those in your market of whom you don’t approve, word will get out and the chances are you will lose business.

In business, you need to be discriminating in the sense you need to market in favour of those who are most likely to become your customers.  You cannot afford to allow other factors to get in the way.  This is one reason the marketplace is fundamentally egalitarian, a place where the community meets to do business of all types.

This is why immigration is such a difficult political issue.  It benefits many businesses but the unequal nature of the marketplace has led to stoking of prejudice against immigrants.  So, now we are leaving the EU because some people cannot stomach immigration and even the party that explicitly aims to bring down immigration has so far failed to the extent it also listens to business.

An Inclusive Marketplace

Businesses need an inclusive marketplace, where they can make exclusive offers.  This boils down to the need for traffic and conversion.  If you have excellent conversion, you need good traffic or no-one will see your offer and good traffic equates in part to an inclusive marketplace.  If conversion is poor, it doesn’t matter whether you have traffic because you won’t make any customers.

So, you need to be discriminatory in the sense you aim for a particular market and when you find them do not let prejudice get in the way, it is always a major disadvantage for business.

From Customer to Advocate

If someone is a passionate advocate they will help your business in several ways.  They will:

  • buy more from you. This is the key to a successful business.  If you have a range of offers, the chances people who buy from you once will buy again and spend more as their trust increases.
  • advocate your business to others, helping you find new customers.
  • write or record testimonials and speak passionately in your favour.
  • come up with new ideas for products and services you can offer.

What Your Passionate Advocates Need

So, what do your customers need if they are to become passionate advocates?  The main thing they need is a referral system.  This is some clear means by which they can advocate your business and benefit from doing so.

Let’s assume they have tried you and like your approach.  They need help to advocate on your behalf.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • The more you can systematise your referral system, the easier it will be for your advocates to use it.
  • Help them with testimonials. People will find positive things to say, if you can take them through a conversation so that they can think through what they say about you.
  • Be clear about what you want from them. You are not asking them to sell your products or services, simply to find people who benefit from contact with you.
  • Offer incentives for good referrals (referrals they have approached for permission to pass details to you) and referrals who become customers.
  • Keep in contact with past customers. This is usually best done through an email list.  They will be pleased to hear from you if you maintain an interest in them.

Every business is different but all benefit from seriously considering these issues.

Please let me know if this is helpful and if there are any points I could expand upon.

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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