Failing to recognize your Advocates can make them less likely to recommend you. Here's a personal story that illustrates this point:
I'm an enthusiastic Advocate of a resort hotel on the Monterey Bay in Aptos, California, near Santa Cruz. I've bought several groups to the property for business meetings and other events. I've also recommended it countless times to colleagues, peers and friends, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in business for the hotel.
When I stayed at the hotel recently, I decided to introduce myself to the general manager of the property, who was standing in the lobby. I told him how much I loved the hotel and that I had recommended it many times to others.
In a monotone voice and with a bland look on his face, the GM responded by saying: "Great. What can I do for you?"
As an authentic Advocate of the hotel, I wasn't looking for a room upgrade, a free meal, or a drink in the hotel bar. I recommended the hotel because I've always had an excellent experience there and want others to enjoy the property as well. But at the very least, a simple thank you would have been appreciated.
In fact, imagine how different this experience would have been if the GM had said: "Mr. Fuggetta, thank you so much for your advocacy. We understand that it's our enthusiastic guests like you who tell others about our property that makes us so successful. Here's my business card with my personal mobile number. If there's ever anything I can do for you on this or any future stay, please don't hesitate to call."
Now, to be fair, maybe the GM was a tad distracted at the moment I introduced myself. Or maybe he was having a bad day. But I still remember being taken a back by his aloofness. And I've told this story countless times to hotel marketers and others as an example of how companies miss opportunities to recognize and encourage their most effective salespeople and marketers: their Brand Advocates.
I continue to recommend the hotel. But I'm not as eager to go out of my way to recommend it to others.
The next time one of my peers who's planning on holding a meeting for a couple of hundred people asks me what hotel I recommend in the Santa Cruz area, I probably won't say anything. Or maybe I'll recommend the same hotel with the same warmth and enthusiasm as the general manager showed.
This post is an excerpt from Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force (Wiley; ISBN: 978-1-1183-3603-8; July 2012; Hardcover & E-book)