On your never-ending to-do list, generating more customer stories may seem like a “nice-to-have” item, not a “need-to-have.” Maybe you need a reference or two at the end of the buying process, but your marketing and sales teams likely aren’t incorporating customers into earlier stages. However, according to Bob Peterson, Research Director at SiriusDecisions, advocacy is imperative at all stages of your buyer’s journey.

In his Advocamp 2016 talk, Bob presents his data-backed insights on how to incorporate advocacy into every stage of your customer’s journey to impact your demand generation strategy and win rates. You can read the highlights below, or watch Bob’s full AMP talk in the video below.

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The highlight reel: customer-created content is the new demand imperative

0:53 – Bob begins with a quick story about building customer advocacy by talking about the time he took a Swedish CIO to the only place he wanted to go: The Mall Of America. After spending an hour surrounded by half-clad images of boys and bad-smelling cologne [at Abercrombie & Fitch], the CIO says: says “Bob, this is why we’re doing business with you…If you listen to me now for this personal request, I know you’re going to listen to me when we have business challenges down the road.”

3:42 – 4 key trends driving advocacy’s impact on demand:

  1. Customer experience is the #1 factor that influences demand
  2. Advocacy is worth investing in because of its proven ROI
  3. It’s crucial to time your advocacy “asks” right in the customer lifecycle
  4. Advocacy supports both the buyer’s journey and the customer lifecycle

5:12 – Bob uncovers the surprising data on which factors drive B2B buying decisions, based on a survey of 1,005 buyers:

  • 71% of all business drivers are based on customer experience, either directly with the company, or indirectly with its references
  • 18% of decision-making was based on the promises the company makes
  • 9% of decision-making was based on price

6:09 – “Why should demand folks care about advocacy?” asks Bob. Three reasons:

  1. Advocacy can help drive larger deals
  2. Advocacy can help deals move faster through the pipeline
  3. Advocacy can help close more deals

9:17 – Bob reports that less than 1 in 5 people say that they know their customer’s journey extremely well. Yet, Bob points out that “customer advocacy lives and dies with your ability to develop some type of intimacy with your customers. I don’t know how you have any chance of establishing intimacy if you don’t take the time to understand what it’s like to be a customer.”

10:03 – Bob points out a crucial mistake many marketers make. Not only do some marketers underestimate the value of advocacy, but they also believe that advocacy matters most late in the buyer’s journey and not as much early on. In fact, advocacy is necessary at all stages of the buyer’s journey, especially at the earlier stages. “Don’t just save that ace for that last stage, bring it forward,” says Bob.

11:04 – Bob shares Sirius’s buyer journey worksheet. He suggests brainstorming with your team how to incorporate advocacy into your content at every stage. For example, an early stage prospect may want to see press release quote, whereas a prospect who is ready to close will want to see an in-depth case study.

12:56 – “Advocacy isn’t just for the buyer’s journey.” Bob says you should “use advocacy to help support the customer throughout their customer life-cycle…For example, somebody just comes on board, sales shakes the hand of the customer marketing or customer success person, welcomes them into the community? Well, content could be here, quick win stories: tips, tricks, FAQs, etc.”

14:19 – Bob leaves his audience with 5 main takeaways:

  1. Understand your buyer’s journey and where advocacy can help
  2. Understand your customer life-cycle and when it’s okay to make “asks”
  3. Understand your customer life-cycle and when advocacy is most beneficial
  4. Define a clear measurement strategy to prove advocacy’s value to your team
  5. Make a case for the resources you need to create an even bigger impact
How to calculate the ROI of advocate marketing
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