Advocate (or advocacy) marketing is not a new concept. In fact, it is well-known in the world of modern marketing. So much so that a recent IDC report found that advocacy grew 587% from 2016 to 2017.
Why is it, then, that so many marketers fail to implement advocacy to its full advantage?
Even as Relationship One began working with clients on their advocacy marketing initiatives, the implementation of a formal advocacy program seemed out of reach.
Clients often asked “Would people really take time out of their day to help us?”
Spoiler alert: the answer is yes!
Advocamp: the biggest customer engagement and advocacy event of the yearRegister now!
Why advocacy marketing is important to your 2018 plans
For years, people have been obsessed with celebrities on social media.
What does this have to do with advocacy? Pretty much everything.
When your favorite celebrity posts a photo, video, or even a Snapchat of the product they can’t get enough of, what do you do? I can tell you that I am guilty of jumping right onto that product’s website and ordering it for myself.
If you can’t relate to this, think about Oprah’s Favorite Things. What happened to all of those products after an episode would air? They sold out everywhere because one important public figure praised them.
Figuring out how this would translate into our world of B2B marketing and the Oracle Marketing Cloud was challenging.
It turns out though, that the proof was right under our nose.
You don’t need Oprah as a customer to generate valuable WOM. Your brand already has dozens, if not hundreds, of micro-influencers who are already praising your product, whether you know it or not: your customer advocates.
While they don’t have the reach that Oprah does, they do exert a remarkable degree of influence over their peers. When you multiply this across a whole community of advocates, the results can be astounding.
How B2B advocates can move the needle for your business
At Relationship One, we found ourselves naturally creating advocates and acting as advocates long before we realized it could be a formal strategy.
Here’s an example. At Relationship One we established a name for ourselves by being a full-stack, gold Oracle Marketing Partner. We praise all things Oracle Marketing Cloud (OMC) and center pretty much all of our business around its platforms. We care about it so much that we started hosting local user groups, where other OMC lovers could join together to share learnings and insights about the platforms.
In 2011, we hosted in one city (Minneapolis), and by 2017, we were hosting in several cities across the nation. Our praise and love for the Oracle Marketing Cloud on social media, on our website, and most importantly, at this event inspired others to join in. Advocate marketing had always been our practice. We just didn’t realize it.
Establishing a formal strategy for engaging customers (beyond just live events!) and building an online community can lead your business to enjoy two main benefits.
- Demand Metrics show the revenue impact of your program. For example, advocate referrals, references, and reviews all impact your sales pipeline and help speed up the sales process.
- Engagement Metrics show the impact your programs are having on your customers. This includes completion/interaction rates for requests or content you offer advocates, their feedback, NPS/CSAT scores, and more.
Getting an advocacy marketing program started in 2018
If you’re ready to start an advocacy initiative in 2018, here are a few questions to ask yourself to get started:
- What goals or metrics will signal success for your programs? I’ve listed a few in the previous section, but check out Measuring the Success of Advocacy Marketing: What’s in it for Me? to learn more. In it, our consultant Amanda Gibson, sums up nicely how you can keep track of everything and tactics for increasing your ROI.
- How will the program benefit your advocates? Will they get to network with each other through your program? Get special content or access to your team? Special perks, rewards or contests? Hint: mix fun rewards, recognition and unique professional perks (conference passes, lunch with your CEO) to hit a sweet spot that will appeal to most B2B advocates. Interviewing a few trusted customers will give you insights on how to build your program.
- How can you get your entire company interacting with advocates? Think carefully about how advocates can benefit each department. Your content team can collaborate more with your advocate community on content. Sales can more quickly source references. Product teams can quickly give feedback. While most programs are owned by marketing, getting other departments to contribute to your program will make it more enjoyable and robust for advocates.
Advocacy marketing gets professional
In 2016, we announced our partnership with Influitive, which has created the most robust advocacy and engagement platforms available for B2B teams. With their help, we now have certified consultants ready to help any organization start their advocacy marketing journey.
We’re excited to continue working alongside the leader in advocate marketing software. That’s why we’re sponsoring this year’s Advocamp, Influitive’s annual conference focused on customer engagement and advocacy. Our team of experts will be available at the Relationship One booth. We even have a few gifts to help keep you warm. Come visit us!
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