According to practice management expert Duncan MacPherson of Pareto Systems, the three main types of consumers — customers, clients, and advocates — can mean different things for the way you do business, and the way you’re perceived by those who do business with you.

MacPherson identifies the three types: “A customer is someone who has some business with you but has business placed with another advisor, too. A client is someone who empowers you fully but who never refers people to you. An advocate is someone who is an absolute joy to work with and who endorses you to anyone who will listen.”

Advocates help you grow your business by standing behind you and your product and by linking you to other potential advocates. So how does one turn a now-and-then customer into an everyday advocate?

According to a survey by CEG Worldwide and Patricia J. Abram’s list published in Research magazine, potential advocates look for six things in their preferred investor:

  1. Character – Advocates look for integrity in advisors. When it stands up to tests, their loyalty increases.
  2. Chemistry – This is essential. For advocates, either it’s there or it’s not.
  3. Client-first attitude – Advocates want to know what you can do for them.
  4. Competence – Advisors who know what they are talking about and can show that to clients will succeed in building advocacy.
  5. Cost-effectiveness – Advocates will pay more for services if they can see they are getting their money’s worth.
  6. Consultative approach – Be a partner with advocates, not overbearing. Treating them as an equal will be mutually beneficial.

Taking clients from customers to advocates takes practice, dedication, and integrity. But with each one you gain, you’ll see an unprecedented boon to your business.