Originally posted at ZuberRants

Seth Godin has it exactly right when he asks in a recent blog post, “…what if you define ‘best customer’ as the person who brings you new customers through frequent referrals, and who sticks with you through thick and thin?”

In other words, what if we define “best customer” as “strongest Brand Advocate”?  How would that change the way we think about and treat our Brand Advocates?

We might:

–       pay even more attention to them: watch, listen, learn

–       get to know their preferences so we can continue to delight them

–       go “above and beyond” in our interactions with them

–       solicit their honest feedback at key brand or product development decision points

–       go out of our way to make sure they know we appreciate them (their insights, time, energy, loyalty)

–       be so aware of their value that we start bragging to our colleagues about the power of OUR Brand Advocates (be careful, though, they are people, not commodities!)

–       invite them to visit with us online, and welcome their friends as warmly as we welcome our Advocates

–       think more often in terms of ways we can serve them better instead of how they can serve us

Notice that all of these behaviors have the beneficial side-effect of improving our brand’s relationship with our Advocates, which gives them reason to be even more loyal and even stronger Advocates for our brand.

The main paradigm shift required is the willingness to first focus on the relationship value of a “strongest Brand Advocate” and wait to make a monetary value assessment until we see the slightly longer-term “income” resulting from numerous referrals, repeat business, and overall brand impact as positive Word of Mouth spreads through your Brand Advocates’ social networks.

In a culture of instant gratification, it’s tempting to keep thinking of our “best customer” as the one who provides the most money the quickest, but we need to start seeing the lifetime marketing value as the holy grail.  And our Brand Advocates are the ones to bring us that treasure.

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