Elevate Advocate Marketing Into a Core Business Process
You may know Geoffrey Moore as the intellectual giant who put the words “chasm” and “tornado” into the lexicon of every technology marketer. In his important recent post “What Is Your Slowest Gear?”, he concentrates on four critical success factors for building any transaction-based business that has volume of customers as part of its business model. Each of these are portrayed as an interlocking gear of equal size (and therefore of equal importance to business success): acquisition, engagement, monetization and enlistment.
According to Moore, “The last of these four may not be as obvious a success factor as the other three, so let me say a few more words about it. Enlistment is the ability to get participants in your ecosystem to voluntarily and at their own expense recruit new members. Typically these are consumers whose engagement experience has been so delightful, they simply want to spread the joy. Importantly, they are not motivated by monetization, and attempts to monetize their activity are often counter-productive.”
One of the more important takeaways from this piece is Moore’s insight that enlistment is broadened and elevated to one of 4 core, critical business processes that companies need to master in order to get their cash generation machine working.
This is a big and provocative idea. The vast majority of technology companies do not have a Department of Enlistment, Vice-Presidents of Enlistment, with standard Enlistment metrics, processes and technology. If Moore considers Enlistment a core process, then [we may all have a lot of work to do.]
At Influitive, we believe that “enlistment” is just another way to say “advocate marketing”, and agree with Moore that enlistment, or advocate marketing, is a high-value yet often overlooked part of raising an army of advocates that lead to success. Moore points out that a drop in enlistment will drag down profits due to increased customer acquisition cost. Additionally, it’s important to note how much of an impact the enlistment gear can have on a business.
Did you know? 10% of of the unique visitors to your company website will click through to your community page or presence (Forrester: “Owner” And “Sponsor” B2B Community Success Metrics from Benchmarks: “The B2B Online Community Playbook”). Actively promoting your community has been shown to increase this percentage to 12% in some cases. Imagine the increase if the community itself is advocating on your behalf. Advocate marketing brings the community out into the open, allowing your most enthusiastic community members to share their enthusiasm and allowing you to more readily identify and connect with your true high value influencers.
Why does advocate marketing work so well? We have a couple of hypotheses:
1. Buyers are drowning in information and are horrendously stretched for time. So they crave relevance and insight when they have a major purchasing decision, to make better decisions faster. Effective advocacy helps reduce the fear of loss, and the embarrassment of making a poor decision.
2. Emboldened by peer advocates, buyers make purchasing decisions faster, they feel comfortable with a larger initial order, and are less price-sensitive. The frictionlessness of the social web has elevated advocacy into the brand promise, much more so than any amount of advertising or pleading from a sales rep.
Advocate marketing is not ‘pay for play’ reviews and recommendations. Instead it directs and channels the seemingly random acts of advocacy that occur daily into a powerful marketing force. And because it allows users to advocate passionately for the companies, products and ideas that resonate most with them, it opens the door to several new layers of user-driven marketing. A great advocate marketing program, like that of Totango, incorporates user feedback, ongoing dialogue, variety, knowledge, reward, referral, recruitment, a sense of play, metrics, and a way to monetize without erecting a wall between the user and the company.
Did you know? According to multiple analysts, including Forrester and Sirius Decisions, B2B buyers are more than two-thirds of the way through their decision-making process before they contact a company or accept an invitation to discuss their needs with a sales rep.
Ektron is another great example of a company tapping the power of advocate marketing. They trusted their advocates so much that they triggered a Quora discussion encouraging their users to debate and compare their product against top competitors with amazing results. That kind of trust drives and mobilizes company advocates. Totango has also found ways to motivate its advocates and empower them to find and share things like useful information found on the corporate blog.
Did you know? In 2012 there has been a significant shift from passive to active engagement online. 28% more online brand enthusiasts are actively advocating for and creating content around the brands that they love. (Forrester)
Examples like this are why innovative CMOs today are betting heavily on advocacy programs. For relatively low cost in time and resources, enlistment offers massive value by turning all of the other gears faster: acquisition, engagement and monetization. It is the gear that integrates the customer acquisition and customer value processes together, and drives more profit from them.