5 Ways to Boost Holiday Sales by Unleashing your Brand Army

With retailers and manufacturers relying more than ever on robust holidays sales, guest blogger Rob Fuggetta of Zuberance reminds them not to overlook their enthusiastic, social-media powered customers. In an excerpt from his soon-to-be-published book, “Energize! How to Turn Fans, Followers, and Enthusiastic Customers into Social Media Marketing Machines,” Fuggetta explores the methods and benefits of harnessing brand advocates.

Guest blogger Rob Fuggetta is founder and CEO of online Word of Mouth marketing company Zuberance. What follows is an excerpt from his soon-to-be-published book, “Energize! How to Turn Fans, Followers, and Enthusiastic Customers into Social Media Marketing Machines.” Join Fuggetta’s conversation on Twitter or reach him by email.

If your company sells or makes consumer products like video games, flat panel TVs, computers, clothing, or jewelry, you know how critical the holiday shopping season is. Most retailers get 30 to 40 percent of their profits during the holiday shopping season. And makers of consumer electronics products like flat panel TVs sell about half of their products between Black Friday and the SuperBowl.

In a tough economy, retailers and manufacturers will rely more than ever this holiday season on price-slashing and ads to get wary consumers to part with their dollars. But if you’re counting on price cutting and ads alone to make your cash register ring this holiday season, you’re overlooking a powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal: your enthusiastic, social media-powered customers. (AKA “Brand Advocates”)

The Power Of Brand Advocates

Brand Advocates are your most passionate and loyal customers. Without payments or perks, they go out of their way to spread positive Word of Mouth about you on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, shopping sites, plus offline, helping you sell more products.

Advocates’ recommendations are up to 3X more trusted and influential than ads, studies by Nielsen and others have shown. Powered by social media, Advocates’ recommendations collectively reach millions of online shoppers, rivaling the reach of ads.

Volunteer Marketing Force

By energizing your Brand Advocates, you can increase sales this holiday shopping season, boost online and in-store traffic, and amplify positive Word of Mouth when you need it most.

You don’t need to pay or provide incentives to get Brand Advocates to recommend you. They evangelize your brand and products because they’ve had a great experience and want to help others. That’s why activating your Advocates is highly cost-effective compared to traditional marketing programs.

Five Ways To Boost Holiday Sales By Energizing Your Advocates

Here are five ways your Brand Advocates will perk up your holiday shopping sales:

1. Your Advocates will boost star ratings for your products on shopping sites, just in time for the holidays. Online reviews carry huge clout with shoppers. 83% of all holiday shoppers are influenced by customer reviews. (source: ChannelAdvisor “Consumer Shopping Habits Survey,” August 2010.) By energizing its Advocates, software maker Adobe boosted its star ratings for one of its products from three stars to 4.25 stars just in time for Black Friday.

2. Your Advocates will gladly share your holiday promotional offers with their friends. Advocates love sharing. On average, 40% of Zuberance-powered Advocates share offers with their social networks. Powered by social media, Advocates can help you reach millions of holiday shoppers at a fraction of the cost of ads and traditional paid media.

3. Your Advocates will get customers for you, serving as a volunteer sales force. Advocates of Chili’s Bar & Grill drove 18% of the coupon redemptions for a recent, highly successful promotion. And Advocates for a leading DVR manufacturer have helped the company sell thousands of products via highly positive reviews and by sharing offers and branded content with their social networks.

4. Your Advocates will drive a ton of in-bound clicks and traffic. On average, the click-through rate for offers shared by Zuberance-powered Advocates 51%, about 10X higher than the CTR for traditional online marketing. The reason for this is simple: people trust their friends more than brands or marketers.

5. Your Advocates will help you get customers for less. Ooma, which sells a VOIP device, is acquiring customers for 54% less than other online marketing channels by getting its Advocates to share promotional offers with their social networks.

There’s still time to energize your Brand Advocates to help boost your sales this holiday shopping season. But you need to get started now if you’re going to tap into the power of your enthusiastic customers to drive more sales this holiday season.