IDC Research: The Role of Marketing in Customer Advocacy

Our partner, Influitive, has a variety of great resources for those in the customer advocacy field.  One is recent research from IDC, The Role of Marketing in Customer Advocacy which you can download here.  

The world has changed, how buying decisions are made has changed, and customer advocacy is more crucial than ever for continued business success. The report has interesting commentary and charts about how advocate marketing staff splits their time among their many responsibilities and which advocate marketing tactics are most common.  There is also discussion of common barriers and suggestions for key success metrics.  The research concludes with recommendations for success. 

This is worth a read.  Let us know if the content resonates with you.  Is this is what you are seeing in your industry, with your clients?  Interested in your thoughts!

Create Win-Wins with Your Customer Advocacy Program

We all know that a huge part of the sales cycle can happen well before a prospect even contacts you.  Our potential customers often look to their peers, friends, and those that are respected in their field for input and advice.  This is where a strong community of advocates comes in.  Your advocates are a very important part of your story, of your sales cycle.

In working with our clients and their advocacy programs we are always looking to create win-win situations.  We advise against asking advocates to do favors.  We caution our clients not to incent advocates with discounts. Instead, we encourage framing the discussion as one of presenting advocates with opportunities to network, to speak with analysts, to show thought leadership, or to influence product direction.   Rather than ask them to do a case study about your products, offer to showcase their success and leadership.  Advocacy activities can offer wonderful opportunities for increased company and personal awareness or for professional development.   Create situations where both you and your advocates win!

Sometimes you find a gem!

Many of us subscribe to newsletters, probably lots and lots of newsletters.  The chances of reading through them all each time they arrive is pretty low but sometimes as you skim through you find a gem.  I recently received the July issue of the newsletter from 4imprint, a vendor we’ve used for branded materials for trade show giveaways to client holiday gifts.  This issue focused on social customer service.  Of course they did weave in ways their products could help, but with a relevant and ‘non-intrusive’ approach.  The newsletter had highlights of an article with much more detail, a ‘blue paper’ as they are called by 4imprint.  Those highlights were interesting enough that I decided to look at the original article.

One statistic in particular was surprising:  “Those customers who use live chat for service report a satisfaction rate of 92 percent. This satisfaction rate is higher than that for service via phone, web form, email and social media.”  Live chat was followed pretty closely by voice which received an 88% satisfaction level.

The full article is here and quite interesting.  There are examples of how well known companies are approaching customer service, research findings, and recommendations as to how you might improve service to your customers.   And the sources are well documented!  How often have you wanted to use a stat you’ve seen somewhere but couldn’t trace it back to an original source?  The accompanying Infographic is a great summary.  Well done 4imprint!

Check what you already have first!

We’re helping a new client get a more formalized customer advocacy program off and running.  We’re contacting customers that have given high NPS scores recently, that have been part of early adopter or beta testing programs, or that were ‘known’ to product marketing.  But there are other treasure troves of advocates out there!  Stories on our client’s web site and quotes in press releases are just two examples of advocacy in action.

In the zeal to get new advocates you need to be careful to not overlook the ones you already have!  Make sure they are welcomed into any new program.  It’s a great opportunity to reconnect and understand the activities they are now interested in.  They have been there for you in the past, make sure they are a central part of your program moving forward.

Languages, Languages

English, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese.  We just finished program documentation for one of our clients in all of those languages.  Language expertise has been a priority for our recent hires and they’re busy translating program documentation, speaking with our clients’ sales reps in local language, and working directly with their end customers.  We prioritized languages after discussions with our clients and analysis of their customer base.  Our hires are a mix of native speakers and folks who learned primarily in school, but who coupled that book learning with significant time abroad.  We have found that even native speakers don’t necessarily know the complete suite of business terms we need but that’s been fairly easy to address.  We have our next priority languages set and are actively recruiting now.  Our languages list will be longer shortly!

The end of LinkedIn Products & Services Pages

We received notification that LinkedIn is removing the Products & Services tab from company pages.  Oddly the notification was mailed on April Fool’s Day.  As of April 14 the feature will be removed.  LinkedIn offered to send recommendations from the page, which we requested.  The customer support team responded very quickly.  The recommendations are really valuable so we’re glad to still have that information.

The notification when on to explain options for the future – updates or Showcase Pages.   While we were users of the Products & Services tab we’re likely to redesign our home page and use updates rather than embarking on Showcase Pages.

What is your company’s response to this change?  Think this will make things easier for LinkedIn in members as they profess?  Easier for you?

Project ‘Find the Customer Reference!’

We were recently asked to do a special project for a new client.  They had a high priority need for customer references for a specific product.  A rather new product at that. And, of course, a very short deadline.  Major events were on the schedule where they needed speakers and new collateral because who better to tell your story than a happy customer?

Sometimes you need to call in reinforcements, which they did.  They didn’t have the bandwidth to take on this special project so called us.  We have the processes in place already, and the people.  We were able to supplement their staff and contact every single sales rep that had sold this product, discussed their customers, and then went on to talk with each customer who was a potential reference.  We were able to help frame the stories to highlight business benefits, not just the ‘speeds and feeds’.  Putting extra resources on this, in a very short window, was really successful.  We’ve uncovered several new references already and we’re not yet done.

While typically we run major programs for our clients sometimes we’re asked to do special projects such as this.  It can be a huge help to have extra bandwidth when you need it – big or small we can help with your customer reference challenges!