Joel: All right, and welcome to another episode of the Marketing Unleashed podcast. I’m your host, Joel, and with me is Jamie and Jill. Today, we’re going to be talking about how a business or a brand can turn their current customers into a sales team. Now, people may be wondering, well, how does that work? There are ways that you can convince customers to become evangelists of your product or brand, essentially, or your business, whatever it may be. We’re just going to kind of talk about some of the best ways that that can happen. So, I mean, let’s just kind of kick it off. I would say probably the one that most people are familiar with, and probably the best, is referral programs.
Joel: So, referral programs, I mean, it’s pretty easy to understand. Whenever you’re a customer, if you refer somebody, usually you get some type of unique code or coupon or something. Once your friend or whoever you refer to goes and purchases, you get either a discount, cash, or whatever else.
Joel: Now, the referral programs that I’ve always been a part of or tried, it’s always been online, so Ebates or something. You know, you email it to somebody and if they click the link, it’s an affiliate-type code.
Joel: Is there anything else? I mean, I’m trying to think, is there a more physical version of a referral program?
Jill: Well, I think we talked about this a couple episodes ago, but, like, buying a car.
Jamie: Yes, we did talk about this.
Joel: Yeah, and you’re still waiting, right? Or your dad’s waiting?
Jill: I asked him and he didn’t answer me the other day. I don’t know if he actually got it or not. What we were saying is, if you buy a car and then refer somebody to that place, usually you can get a little bit of money.
Jamie: Then that’s kind of just like word of mouth. It’s like, well, so who was your dealer, and then they just kind of, once you tell them who it was, then they’ll hook you up.
Jill: Yeah. I think-
Jamie: You don’t have to give them anything physical.
Jamie: So that’s one way.
Jill: I think referral programs sound like a really great idea, but from my personal experience, I can say that I’ve tried them on friends, like, 20 times and no one ever …
Jamie: I can attest to that.
Jill: No one ever does it.
Joel: Yeah, I mean, it depends on the, number one, the product or service, and I think number two, how much work it takes for them to do it.
Jamie: Well, and you have to … For a brand, if a brand is good, you really want to get your customers talking about it. So, I mean, if you can make it easy for the customers to talk about it with the referral program, make it easy to share this referral on social media and email and whatever, you don’t have to do a lot of work. Make it easy for the customer to send this.
Jill: I think it’s pretty easy most times, it’s just the other person doesn’t do it, the friend that’s been referred.
Jamie: Yeah, and then it’s like, you don’t want to bug them, so it’s just like, “Hey-”
Joel: Yeah, you kind of send it to them, but you never follow up.
Jamie: Yeah, you don’t … Yeah, you don’t-
Jill: It’s something that sounds like a good idea in theory, but personally I’ve never had it ever work.
Jamie: I haven’t either. Well, I do remember back when satellite TV was very big, everybody had satellite, there wasn’t streaming.
Jamie: When I first got DirecTV, I actually got physical coupons. They sent them to me in the mail and it was a referral for 50 bucks for me, 50 bucks for them, and I was handing them out to everyone.
Joel: Yeah, and did anybody take it up?
Joel: But that’s a huge purchase, though, and it’s a commitment.
Joel: Now, I mentioned Ebates. Now, whenever I went on Ebates, I kept talking to my wife, and her family, and my family, like, “Oh, yeah, I basically get paid to shop online.” I kind of did it casually and they were like, “Well, how do you sign up?” And I’m like, “Don’t go sign up. Let me send you a link because I already-”
Jill: I tried that as well, on Joe, and he went and signed up himself, and he actually did it, but he didn’t use my referral. Thanks a lot.
Joel: So they did it. I mean, a few of them did it, so I got, like, 30 bucks out of it. So it was cool. I’m trying to think. I don’t think I had … I think that’s about it. Now, I’ve done some affiliate marketing stuff before, where you have links out there and you make money every time somebody clicks on it.
Jamie: Yeah, and that’s something that-
Jill: Bloggers do a lot.
Jamie: … Bloggers do a lot and they …
Jill: And then Instagrammers.
Jamie: That’s not something that, yeah, anybody could do.
Joel: Yeah, I don’t consider that a, turning your customer into a salesperson, that’s just, that’s kind of a-
Jill: So do you pay the affiliate program to be a part of it?
Joel: No. No, it’s just like it’s-
Jamie: But brands are doing that a lot.
Joel: Yeah, well, because basically what it is, is that they’re using it for social proof because the more people that write about the product and everything, which we should actually have a episode just dedicated to that alone, but the more people that are writing blog posts or creating videos on YouTube or whatever about a specific product, then the more covers they’re going to get, the more SEO value they’re going to get out of it, just everything.
Joel: It’s just easier to make that sale because you’re leveraging other people’s audiences.
Jamie: Yeah. Amazon’s affiliate program is huge.
Jamie: I mean, people make … they have huge businesses just from affiliate marketing.
Joel: Yeah. Right. Now, another program that has really kind of become a dirty program in the last decade, because everybody seems to be doing it, it’s these multilevel marketing programs.
Jill: Yuck, yuck, yuck.
Joel: But we’ve got to remember-
Jamie: They didn’t start out that way, you’re right.
Joel: They didn’t start out that way. Like-
Jamie: Because Mary Kay is legit.
Joel: Mary Kay, Tupperware.
Jamie: My mom sold Mary Kay. Yes, and Tupperware, that’s legit.
Joel: And wasn’t Avon?
Jamie: Yes, Avon.
Joel: Yeah, so our grandparents, our grandma’s, I think everybody’s grandma knew somebody or did it themselves that sold Tupperware or Mary Kay or something.
Jill: The Pampered Chef.
Jamie: Yes, yes.
Joel: Well, Pampered Chef kind of came after those were established, but yeah, Pampered Chef got big in the ’90s, I think, were Mary Kay and those, they started back in the ’70s, ’60s, I don’t know.
Jamie: Yeah, something like that.
Joel: Yeah, a long time. Those are the OGs of multilevel marketing. But that’s one of those true, like, “I loved the product so much, I want to go out and sell it myself.” That is like evangelism at its finest.
Joel: Now, I think at the time, you couldn’t just go and pay 20 bucks and become a Tupperware salesman. You had to actually apply and go through a program.
Jamie: Yeah, you had to get training, you had to buy your own inventory.
Joel: Right, so it’s not like today, where you see on Facebook, like, “Oh, you want to make a lot of money? All you’ve got to do is go to this website and sign up as an affiliate, or a salesperson, or whatever,” and then they make money on you signing up.
Jamie: Yeah, there’s that one that’s going through a huge class action lawsuit. That one that sells leggings.
Jill: Oh, yeah.
Joel: Lulu Lemon?
Jill: No, it’s not Lulu Lemon. It’s Lulu something, though.
Jamie: Yeah, it’s Lulu something. Yeah, but I was reading about that and that, yeah-
Jill: [crosstalk 00:08:01].
Jamie: … a lot of people got screwed with that one because it was bad product. Like, terrible product.
Joel: Yeah. Now, we’ve done this with … I remember we did this with Purina with Honor Show Chow, but we had brand ambassadors.
Joel: Yeah. Yeah.
Jill: That’s what they’re called.
Joel: Yeah, LuLaRoe.
Jill: They have a $49 million lawsuit.
Jill: Sorry. Go on, Joel.
Joel: Sorry, most-
Jamie: So don’t get sucked into that one.
Joel: Yeah, well most of those companies deserve that, that are doing that kind of stuff now.
Jamie: I almost got sucked into selling candles.
Jill: Oh, yeah, candles.
Joel: Was it Scentsy?
Jamie: I think it was Scentsy.
Jamie: I think it was Scentsy, which is good stuff.
Jill: And the nail art.
Jill: The nails stuff. Oh, my gosh, there’s so many of them. Yeah.
Joel: I told-
Jill: Like fake Vera … What are those?
Jill: Vera Bradley bags?
Jill: All that stuff.
Joel: I told Missy, I said, “I don’t care, you can go buy all that stuff, but you’re not selling it because I’m not dealing with that stuff in the house.” She was like …
Jamie: Yeah, and there was, remember Amway?
Joel: Yeah, but-
Jamie: I almost got sucked in. It was a similar thing to Amway, it was called FHM Marketing, something like that.
Jamie: I even paid. I even paid 300 bucks to get all the training materials.
Joel: Oh, really?
Jamie: Oh, my God.
Joel: When was this?
Jamie: Years and years ago.
Joel: Like a decade ago, or like 20 years ago? Well, it couldn’t have been 20 years ago, you’re not that old.
Jamie: No, no, no. It was probably almost a decade ago.
Jamie: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I had a friend at the time who was like, “I’m going to do this. You should try this. You can get all these great deals and you can do … ” I mean, she was great salesman. She talked me into it.
Joel: Yeah, well, there are people who can make legitimate money, but you’ve got to, I mean, it is always closing.
Jamie: Yeah. She’s like-
Joel: You’re always closing sales.
Jamie: “All you have to do a show them the video. You don’t have to do a lot of selling. The video sells everything for you.”
Jamie: Nope. Nope.
Joel: No. So like I said, with Honor Show Chow, we had brand ambassadors. I don’t remember if they were paid or not. Jill, do you know? Were those people paid, the ambassadors that we had?
Jill: I don’t know. I think so.
Joel: Were they?
Jill: I believe so.
Jamie: And if not, they might’ve been [crosstalk 00:10:11] products.
Jill: They might’ve been getting products.
Joel: Yeah. Yeah, so-
Jill: I can’t say for sure.
Joel: Well, but, so some companies, they’ll have your brand ambassadors. Maybe they’re high profile, maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re just people who have a big following or have kind of started from the ground level. But that’s having a brand ambassador program, or a special club. I’m trying to think of a club or membership that people can be a part of, that isn’t rewards, but it’s still kind of creates that evangelistic environment.
Jamie: Well, they’ll give you some type of incentive, like you get first dibs on sales and new arrivals of product and things like that, in-house events, you get to know first, things like that.
Joel: Right, yeah, just special things that normal customers don’t get.
Jamie: Yeah, like you’re in the know first.
Joel: Right. Yeah, and then obviously there’s, you know, give people free stuff. I mean, that’s a …
Jamie: Yeah, that’s a good incentive.
Joel: Yeah. That’s a, “Hey, we’ll give you free stuff,” and now we call that influencer marketing-
Joel: … for the most part. But, give people free stuff, talk about it on whatever you have out there, and it works.
Jamie: So, what about testimonials?
Joel: Right, yeah. Testimonials, yeah. Testimonials is a big one. One of the issues is, is that testimonials was great and now I think a lot of testimonials are kind of, you know, sometimes it’s like, is that real or not?
Jamie: Well, I guess they’ve been watered down because every site has reviews.
Jill: Yeah. I think we talked about this before, like-
Joel: Yeah, we did.
Jill: … are they fake, are they just paying them?
Joel: Right, which-
Jamie: Right, because before it was a big, long testimonial from somebody and it was not … it was like a big, long story and not just a couple of sentences with a star, like a five star review.
Joel: Yeah. So I was actually looking at a product on Amazon last night, and it was a dash cam because some woman almost backed into me in a parking lot. I’m honking my horn like crazy, and she’s just oblivious to what was going on, and she almost hit me. I had to kick my gear into reverse and back up 10 feet.
Jill: [crosstalk 00:00:12:48].
Joel: Yeah. Yeah, before she hit me, and I just thought to myself, I’m driving home, I’m like, “I need a dash cam,” because-
Jamie: How much are they? Are they pretty cheap?
Joel: I was looking at Amazon. They range, like, 30, 40, $50, all the way up to hundreds.
Joel: Yeah. Sorry if you hear the train. Yeah, but so I was looking at the reviews on some of them, and I looked at probably five or 10 different products, and most of the reviews were like, “Best dash cam ever,” or real generic things. And then this one product had, like, it was pictures of people installing it and actually using it, like it was out in the physical world, and they had long descriptions. They were talking about how good that night vision was, and this and that, just all this information, and it just made it seem more real because it wasn’t just two sentences. It wasn’t just like, “Oh, best product ever made.” You know, that generic stuff that you can’t really trust.
Jamie: Yeah, you’ve got to weed through them.
Joel: Right, and whenever they have pictures of the product in their car, that kind of lets me know these … they either got a free one and that was a requirement or they actually bought it. So hopefully they bought it and they just love it so much, you know?
Joel: But definitely, giving your current customers free stuff to either re-gift it to somebody else, to try to bring them onboard as a customer, or to just go out and sing their praises, that works. Obviously, testimonials, we just talked about that. Creating really, really, really good content on your blog and social media that’s shareable, because obviously if your brand’s attached to whatever the content is, that’s just advertising, whenever people share it. It’s always amazing whenever I see, I don’t know, like some of these cooking videos that is attached to a brand, and I look at the little share button and it’s, like, 57,000 shares and the video was posted, like, four days ago. It’s crazy.
Jamie: Yeah, and I like to share that stuff, especially when I like it, and you want to share that. I mean, when it’s easy, you’ll do it, and that’s good for the brand.
Jill: It’s the modern way of word of mouth.
Joel: Exactly, yeah.
Jill: Which, I still think you can’t ever go wrong with word of mouth because you trust what your friends would tell you.
Jamie: Yeah, absolutely.
Jill: Your friends would not give you bad info unless they were your enemies, like it’s a Dwight and Jim situation. I was just asking somebody just today, “Do I need an Apple watch? I kind of feel like I want one, but do I need it?” I’m asking a few people and they’re all saying yeah, but I trust what people I actually know have to say more than the robot reviews on Amazon.
Jamie: Right, right. Yeah, you’re going to trust those people much more.
Joel: Well, what I would do is say, exactly what … You asked me about some product, well, how do you use it? And then if there’s not a real life use case for it that fits your life, then you don’t need it. You understand what I mean?
Jamie: Yeah, so how are you planning on using it?
Jill: A lot of it for … I guess I would say for fitness stuff, not so much the emails and texts, I don’t really get to care about that.
Jamie: Then get a Fitbit.
Jamie: Then get a Fitbit.
Jill: Yeah. I just feel like they’re pretty accurate. I’ve tried all the other … I don’t know, I feel like I’d just wear it more because I like a clock, as well, and it does all this other cool stuff. I don’t need to get into it. But-
Joel: What, the Apple watch?
Joel: Do you wear a watch normally?
Jill: Yes. All of mine have dead batteries right now, so I’m not wearing any of them, but you charge up your Apple watch instead of getting a new battery every year.
Joel: Yeah. Every year? I don’t know what kind of watch you’ve been buying.
Jill: My batteries always die on my watches.
Jamie: Yeah, I used to wear a watch all the time. But, yeah, all my batteries are dead.
Jill: Yeah. I think it’s cool, too, because it like … a lot with swimming, and I like swimming, like counts your laps and does your pace and all that kind of … your distance and-
Joel: Yeah. Well, I mean, if you have real use out of it, then that’s useful. But, yeah, definitely asking. I mean, word of mouth is probably the best way of doing this, but it’s, how do you get people to-
Joel: Yeah, to talk.
Jill: That’s where you are creating the content that people share.
Joel: Right. Now, sometimes it’s just as easy as just keeping the customer happy.
Joel: I mean, just don’t screw up.
Joel: I mean, there are so-
Jill: It seems simple, but it seems like everything is getting screwed up these days, so just not screwing it up makes it a great product or service.
Joel: Right. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Jill: That’s all you have to do, is not mess up
Joel: Yeah, well, and so many people have brand loyalty or product loyalty. It’s like how many … I’m sure there’s at least a half a dozen products that you can walk through your house and be like, “I would never buy a different brand.”
Joel: You know?
Jill: My toothpaste.
Jill: I accidentally bought the wrong one and I’m mad about it. I stick to my usual Sensodyne.
Joel: So you bought the wrong one because …
Joel: You said it was on accident?
Joel: And now-
Jill: Tried it. Awful. Not going back.
Joel: And now Sensodyne owes us money for the ad.
Jill: Thanks, Sensodyne.
Joel: Yeah. Thanks, Sensodyne, sparkly whites. We’ll expect the check. So …
Jill: But I guess a lot of it is, especially with new … you know a lot of brands are only on Instagram or social media?
Joel: Yeah, they don’t advertise anywhere else.
Jill: Like, they’re not at a store. They’re only-
Jamie: I’ve never [crosstalk 00:18:54] noticed that.
Joel: Wait, you-
Jamie: Because I’m like, “I’ve never heard of this brand, ever.”
Joel: You mean they only sell online and they only promote online?
Jill: Yes. Pretty much, yeah.
Jill: It’s just interesting because, I don’t know, it’s just another avenue to go about it, I guess. But I guess by only focusing on one thing, you really put your all into it, expecting people will share your videos and posts and …
Joel: Well, if your demographic is that age group, and, I mean, I would say if you’re going on Instagram and all that, you’re probably, what, 15 to 30, 40?
Jill: Yeah. There’s a lot of cosmetic products that are … it’s like, “Who’s ever heard of this,” and it, 100,000 people like this product and it’s been around for three months on Instagram. Or just shopping through Instagram, I guess, is what I’m saying, is it’s easier for people to share it and spread the word when you’re already on the social media.
Joel: Yeah, when you’re already doing the social.
Jamie: That’s true.
Joel: Yeah. I don’t know. It’s hard. I don’t think I would trust a brand that has just come out and is only promoting on Instagram.
Jill: Right. Yeah.
Jamie: Yeah, because a lot of those products, I feel like, are from China.
Jill: It’s like, are these not good enough to be in a regular store?
Joel: Right. Yeah, I mean, there’s … A lot has to be said about having a store, a reputable store, do their research. You know, the buyers, they have to do their research before they can put a product on the shelf. Now, maybe the research isn’t that extensive, but especially food and makeup and any kind of product that has to do with going in or on the body, I feel like they have to have some type of discretion.
Jill: It seems like a lot of these products have good return policies though, from what I can tell.
Joel: Yeah, totally.
Jill: Like, use it up and … or you could send it back used if you don’t like it, that kind of thing.
Jamie: Well, that’s [crosstalk 00:21:02].
Jill: Because you can’t actually go to a physical place and try it out.
Jill: Not everywhere, but I’ve seen that a few times.
Jamie: Okay. Well, that’s good to know.
Jill: Yeah, because then you don’t feel so anxious about making a purchase of something you’ve never actually seen in real life.
Joel: Right. Yeah. All right. Well, hey, we have any other ways that we could turn customers into sales, or our own sales team?
Jill: I think we’ve covered it. I don’t really have anything to add.
Jamie: Yeah, I think we’ve covered it.
Joel: All right. All right, cool. Well, hey, we’ll be right back with Can’t Let It Go.