How Your Existing Budget Can Pay For Advocate Marketing

Justifying budget for new marketing strategies like advocate marketing can be daunting. First, you need to prove advocate marketing will generate strong ROI (which you can learn more about in this eBook).

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?
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Getting budget from existing initiatives

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.

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.

Trade shows

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.

Lauren_BerryOur 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.”

-Lauren Berry, Customer Marketing Associate at Okta

Public relations

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.

evan jacobs headshot“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.”

-Evan Jacobs, Senior Manager, Customer Marketing and Advocacy at Rapid7

Online community software

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.

james scott headshot“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.”

-James Scott, former President and SVP of Customer Success at Brightpearl

Other areas where you could reduce budget (and ask your advocates for help instead) include:

  • Content marketing
  • 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.

jessica mitchell headshot“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.”

Jessica Mitchell, Marketing Manager at SMART Technologies

Sales enablement

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.

michael_beahm_460“The Blackbaud Champions helped drive 100 referrals and 400 references in 2015 alone.”

-Michael Beahm, Senior Marketing Manager at Blackbaud

Customer success

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.

david beaton headshot“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.”

-David Beaton, Customer Marketing Manager at Halogen Software

How to calculate the ROI of advocate marketing
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