roi_innovation_webinar_2A 2012 Harvard Business Review study found that 60% of a typical buying decision is made before a customer contacts anyone in your organization—meaning, in today’s market, your reputation will always precede you.

So, how can you deal with competitors making false claims about your products or services? Your first instinct may be to get mad, or get even. However, neither will solve the problem.

Instead of starting a “he said, she said” war, there’s another route you can take.

Influitive’s VP of Business Development, Chris Newton, teamed up with our friends Tony DeLollis, Chief Technology Officer at RO|Innovation and Jenny Berthiaume, Director of Customer Culture at Oracle Marketing Cloud, for a webinar to discuss how to fight back against competitors while taking the high road.

To drown out false claims, you need someone to speak up on your behalf; someone whose voice has more weight than your own…someone like your advocates. These people are your biggest fans, happiest partners and most vocal evangelists, who can refute your competitor’s claims with their enthusiasm.

Creating a strong relationship with your advocates will make them champions for your brand and willing references when you need them. Here are some of the highlights from the webinar for building a strong customer advocacy program:

  • Manage your advocates. Make sure you have a system in place for organizing customers so you can find the right reference at the right time. Specific requests for strong matches will be more successful than blanket requests.
  • Give them choices. Some customers feel comfortable with calls, while others may be more willing to contribute quotes to content. Allow them to participate in whatever way they prefer, and they’ll be more likely to help out.
  • Make sure you don’t cause “reference burnout” by calling on the same customers too frequently. As a general rule of thumb, ask customers for reference calls no more than once a month. For bigger asks—such as attending an event or conference—keep it to once a year.
  • Continuously nurture your customers and grow your program. Having a large base of engaged advocates means you will always have a variety of references available. Make sure someone personable is in charge of managing the program to give it a human touch.
  • Reward your advocates. Find ways to say thanks, either through a rewards program, company swag, or a shout out on social media or your website. Match the reward to the value of the type of reference they’ve given.

Improving your references through a strong advocate marketing program will help drive your business forward—and leave your competitors in the dust. Watch the full webinar on demand, or download the presentation slides on SlideShare