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With the Right Incentives Loyal Customers Will Become Brand Advocates There is no better marketing strategy today than encouraging your best customers to recommend your brand to their friends.

By Brett Relander

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As consumers increasingly rely on their mobile devices, the tried and true traditional methods of marketing are no longer sufficient to compete on today's modern business landscape. No longer is it enough to pump out brand content. This is particularly true when it comes to marketing to Millennials who tend to trust the opinion of their peers more than they do content generated by brands that, let's face it, have an agenda to sell their products.

Enter brand advocates.

Leveraged from an existing consumer base, advocates provide brands with the opportunity to connect with their current customers and prospective customers in a way that simply is not possible with even the most carefully crafted advertising campaigns.

Why focus on brand advocates?

The reality in marketing today is that mobile is growing bigger and bigger. Millions of consumers are now using their tablets and smartphones to research deals and buy products. Many of those consumers are performing research while they are in retail locations. Such a high level of mobile usage provides an unprecedented opportunity for brands that are able to convert their current loyal customers into powerful brand advocates.

Related: Let's Get Social: Craft a Strategy to Create Powerful Brand Advocates

Getting started with a brand advocacy program.

The benefit of a brand advocate cannot be denied, yet brands often struggle with how to encourage even their most loyal customers to advocate for them. Encouraging your current customers to become advocates for your brand does not have to be difficult, but it does involve a process. At the heart of such a process is giving your customers a reason to promote your brand. One of the best ways to do that is with a referral program.

For instance, you might consider encouraging customers to share a referral code with others they know, and in exchange receive a credit that can be redeemed for each new qualifying purchase. This method tends to work well because it provides a win for everyone involved. Your brand benefits by having customers who already love your products tell people they know about it. They provide their friends with something valuable and reap benefits for themselves, at the same time. The key to making this method work is to provide enough value that people will actually make use of it.

Related: Build Brand Advocacy From the Inside Out

Make it easy for your loyal customers to tell their friends and family about your products and services. Give them the tools necessary to share your products and even answer any questions that prospects might have. Transparency is king today. It is vital that you are able to encourage your biggest fans to talk about your products and services in an open and honest manner.

Finally, remember to let your brand advocates know that you appreciate their efforts. In light of today's technological advances, tracking and thanking brand advocates is not difficult. You simply need to make certain that you have the tools in place to do so. Zuberance is an excellent tool to use for identifying and engaging those customers who are talking about your brand online. Snap is another excellent tool that makes it much easier to identify and reward your customers when they mention your brand on social media.

Force-feeding the same trite, bland marketing message to your target base can never deliver the same powerful punch as having customers who already love your brand advocate for you. By following the steps above, you can tap into what is currently one of the most effective marketing techniques.

Related: Reach Millennials Through Brand Advocates

Brett Relander

Managing Director at X1 Sports Nutrition

Brett Relander is founder and managing director of X1 Sports Nutrition (http://X1Fuel.com). He has a degree in exercise science, is certified as a Master Fitness Specialist and in the biomechanics of resistance training, and is an advocate of all-natural nutrition and advanced performance training.

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