Then, to get the program off the ground, you’ll need to convince your boss(es) to make an upfront investment and carve out budget.
But how can you get the resources you need if your budget is already set (or very tight)?
There’s always room in the budget for engaging your customers—if you’re willing to take a tough look at the things you’re currently paying for. Ask yourself this: is increasing your investment in ads, events or more of the same content really bringing in more high-quality leads? Or are the returns on those investments diminishing?
Advocate marketing dovetails with nearly all of the initiatives you already fund—and makes them more effective. Investing in a formal advocate marketing strategy will help your company increase:
Brand awareness and positive word of mouth
Sales pipeline, revenue and deal velocity
Customer engagement, retention and upsell/cross-sell revenue
Delighted customers are the key to accelerating growth. You may say your organization is ‘customer- centric’, but if you aren’t allocating budget for advocacy initiatives, that’s a tough banner to carry.
The good news is advocacy doesn’t always mean coming up with new budget; it’s really about a shift in priorities.
Here are the top places you can find budget for advocacy.
Don’t Think You Have Budget For Advocate Marketing?
Want to implement an advocate marketing program, but worried you won’t have enough funds to make it a success? Learn where you'll find budget for advocacy in this guide.
By taking a closer look at where your organization is currently spending money, you’ll discover line items in your budget that could be re-invested in advocate marketing.
According to Forrester Research, the biggest investment marketing teams currently make is in trade shows (14% share of the marketing budget). Digital and traditional advertising make up 14% when combined, while content marketing and PR make up 13% of budgets.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these channels is questionable.
A report from Demandbase found that 71% of B2B marketers say their company’s digital ads sometimes or always fail to meet expectations.
According to Forrester, 51% of marketers say their content marketing efforts are somewhat effective (only 14% said they were very effective).
Carving out budget for advocate marketing from a few of these expensive areas will make all of these funded initiatives more effective. Here’s how.
No more fish bowl business card contests that generate empty leads! Instead of investing in low-performing events, you can maximize the ROI of tradeshows and your own conferences with the help of your advocates. Not only can you staff your booth with advocates (who are more credible salespeople than anyone on your team), but they can drive attendance and awareness of the event, act as speakers, and more.
“Our founder once said that Oktane is not a user conference, it’s a customer conference. That’s why customer stories are truly the heart of Oktane. By showcasing their success, we also make the event more successful.”
PR is expensive, hard to measure, and often relies on your customer’s success stories to make media pitches. Instead, you could use an advocate marketing program to trim your spend and quickly find and share more case studies. The bonus? Your advocates will be happy to help spread the word and share your content.
“While we’ve only had VoiceUp running since Q4 of 2015, we’re extremely proud of our results. The customer-generated content that we sourced was a huge accelerant for our sales and marketing efforts. It helps us achieve our company-wide goals while providing our customers with a great experience.”
Traditional customer communities are hard to measure and time-consuming programs that are always one unanswered thread from turning into ghost towns filled with nothing but complaints and support requests. By shifting your focus to an advocate community, you’ll boost engagement and make your online communities valuable and rewarding places for advocates to connect with each other and your employees.
“Today, hundreds of Brightpearl customers interact in our community to connect with peers and learn how to grow their retail business. Influitive’s unique integration of advocacy, social media and community helps us get there.”
Other areas where you could reduce budget (and ask your advocates for help instead) include:
Third-party customer feedback collection by research firms
Underperforming demand generation campaigns
Advocate marketing can also do the work of several programs you may already be running. By investing in an advocacy platform, you can eliminate costs associated with:
Reference program software
Referral program software
Paid online review campaigns on 3rd party websites
Loyalty/rewards program software
Getting budget from other departments
The marketing team has the most to gain from advocacy and is in the best position to fund your advocate marketing strategy. However, you can split costs with other departments that will benefit from advocacy. The key to bringing them on board is answering one question: What’s in it for them?
If funds for your marketing technology vendors comes from your IT department, they may be able to cover the costs of an advocacy software platform. Show them how it eliminates the need for DIY technology solutions to manage initiatives you’re already doing (like spreadsheets for references, referrals or customer advisory boards), integrates with your marketing automation and CRM software, and helps you scale your efforts without additional headcount or technology.
“AdvocateHub helps us to communicate with over 1,500 advocates at one time…We are able to get feedback from our advocates on future products, marketing materials and strategies. It saves me tons of time! It replaces and scales back the manual task of individually emailing advocates when we need something. It wouldn’t be possible to run a global program like ours without AdvocateHub.”
Customer reviews, case studies, and references help your sales team get high-level meetings and close deals. With advocate marketing, these valuable resources can be generated faster and in the most critical sales verticals. And that’s worth its weight in gold to this team.
“The Blackbaud Champions helped drive 100 referrals and 400 references in 2015 alone.”
This team is often measuring NPS, trying to reduce customer churn, and identifying customers for renewals and cross-sells/upsells. Advocate marketing programs are a better channel for gaining these insights and lessen the burden on customer support by allowing advocates to help each other. These programs can also be a powerful vehicle for education, which will make customers more successful. Your marketing team also won’t have to go through your customer success team every time you need to talk to customers.
“Champions HQ is helping Halogen build stronger relationships with our customers. In turn, this shows them the value in their Halogen investments, which impacts customer satisfaction and retention. As a result, Champions HQ is an integral part of our customer relations strategy.”
Learn how to measure and track the value of advocate marketing—and prove to your entire company that it’s worth the investment. This guide features insights from marketers at companies like BMC Software, Ceridian, Iron Mountain, ReadyTalk and more.