The More Customer Advocates You Have, The Fewer Ads You Have To Buy

This week, the marketing world has been buzzing about HubSpot’s INBOUND conference in Boston. You can’t glance at your Twitter feed without seeing live tweets pouring out of one session or another.

HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah’s keynote caught my eye in particular when everyone started tweeting and retweeting something Shah said about one third of the way into the hour and a half-long session:

Dharmesh Shah quote on customer advocates

It’s a great, tweetable quote, and I couldn’t wait to find out the context around it. Luckily, HubSpot posted the full keynote on YouTube yesterday (embedded below).

Shah’s portion of the keynote was largely focused on humanizing inbound sales and marketing, and customer service, because people’s behavior is changing.

While sellers used to hold the power because they had the information buyers needed, the process has been shifting to favor buyers over the last few years thanks to the amount of information freely available through online word of mouth. “Buyers have both choice and they have voice,” Shah said, referring to the fact that if buyers don’t like how you sell or what you sold them, their reach is a lot wider than it used to be before the age of social media. “Now it’s ‘seller beware’.”

This, he said, is why satisfying your customers isn’t enough; you need to delight them (aka “customer delightion,” a new phrase coined by Shah). Not just because you need your customers to be happy to survive as a business, but because you want them to become customer advocates for you to grow your business.

Along with that, B2B companies shouldn’t just measure customer lifetime value – you should also look at the lifetime value of each person as they move from role to role, company to company:

“Is he going to stop talking about you if you’ve delighted him that much? No. He’s going to take you with him to every company he goes. That’s the power of ‘delightion’. Imagine all that value. What you’ve done essentially is turned Jim into an advocate. The  more advocates you have, the fewer ads you need to buy, because now Jim – and people like Jim – are out there marketing on your behalf, selling on your behalf, promoting your company, advocating your product, and that’s what really matters.”

He added that B2B companies also can’t just measure the value that each customer or person brings in terms of how much they pay to use your product. As an advocate, their value can be exponentially greater than their individual contribution to your MRR. Measurement is important, he said, but doing what matters is even more important. Here’s why:

“Your most valuable customers are not those who buy the most. Your most valuable customer advocates are those who sell the most. They’re the ones who advocate for you the most.”

A great example of this can be found in SMART Technologies’ advocate marketing case study, which reveals just how much value each of their advocates brings to the company. (Hint: It’s in the six figures!)

Shah’s speech is just a small part of a larger conversation about how modern businesses must change to survive, and advocate marketing is just one of the ways to harness the results of those changes. As more and more companies put “customer delightion” at the core of how they do business, they’re going to start looking for ways to capture and direct that delight.

Watch the keynote:


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