I eat at Marcello’s and you should too

A key part of every business’ sales funnel should include a transformation from customer to evangelist.

A customer is a contact who buys from your business. An evangelist is a customer who tells others about your business. Although the cash flow goal of your sales funnel is to acquire customers, one of the profitability goals of your sales funnel should be generate lots and lots of evangelists.

So, what does a business evangelist look like?

I want to tell you about an example of business evangelism from my own life.

I have a client whose office is downtown and sometimes I do work for this client at their office. Since they are located right in the heart of downtown, I like trying out different places for lunch. During my lunchtime exploration, I found a restaurant called Marcello’s Deli & Market that I have absolutely fell in love with.

The atmosphere is European (which appeals to me), there is a wide selection of food (which is nice for variety), there are some delicious AND healthy choices (I’m trying to eat right), and the value is surprising (hey, who doesn’t love a deal?).

I go there quite frequently when I’m working at my client’s office. If that’s all I did, I’d be a customer (and they have lots of those). But I’m so much more:

  • I “check in” on Foursquare every time I’m there. Apparently I’ve checked so often that I have locked up the Mayorship pretty easily, but it’s also become a running joke among several of my friends when I go (and I definitely hear about it when I go somewhere else instead!)
  • When other people in my client’s office are going there for lunch, they invite me along. Apparently, in their office, my name has become synonymous with Marcello’s!
  • As well I talk this place up as frequently as I can to whoever will listen. It usually comes up in conversation when a colleague who is going downtown will be looking for a lunch place. I’ve convinced several people to try it out the next time they are downtown.
  • Lastly, I’ve brought 2 other people there to try out the Marcello’s experience and one happy colleague has eaten there a couple of times with me and even sought it out in another city when he was traveling.

As a very active and unabashed evangelist, I have moved several contacts through a type of sales funnel for Marcello’s. The rewards I get for this are (1) Marcello’s stays in business, and (2) my friends and colleagues have a positive experience when they go for lunch. (I want to be “that guy” — the one who recommends a great place to eat that others might not think of, but which surprises everyone).

If you run a business, generating an army of eager evangelists should be a goal. It is far more profitable to have highly credible word-of-mouth marketing than paying for ads and fliers.

Depending on what you sell, you can help your customers become evangelists by using social media tools (to start, create a Facebook page, get a Twitter account, and register on Foursquare), hosting exclusive “customer only” events, offering invite-a-friend discounts, and more. Make it easy to talk about and share your business with someone else so your customers can excitedly (and succinctly) tell others.

If you provide value and empower your evangelists, they’ll move people through your sales funnel on your behalf.

(And by the way, if you’re ever in these Canadian cities, be sure to try out Marcello’s!)

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