What Wearing A Dunce Cap Taught Me About Connecting With Customers

Truman Tang

One question I hear all the time is, “How can we find new ways to engage our customers and make them feel like they’re part of our brand?”

After all, the better you are at connecting with customers, the better your marketing results will be. In fact, building a community of customer advocates can help your brand grow 2.5X faster than your competitors, attract new customers and boost your revenue.

This is why we’ve created an advocate marketing program, Influitive VIP, that is constantly engaging our customers, and giving them the chance to get to know us better.

I’d like to share the results of a fun challenge we recently sent out that quickly took on a life of its own.

It all started when my customer marketing intern, Dylan, played an April Fool’s prank on me. He told me that he awarded free points to some of our VIP advocates without my knowledge. The challenge was incredibly popular, and received over 110 completions in 8 hours.

connecting_with_customers_engagement_challenges_dylan1We decided that, since the challenge was so successful, we would run with for a few weeks to keep our customers engaged.

So, we created a challenge asking our VIP advocates if Dylan should be punished for giving away free points, and to vote for what his punishment should be. These were the options:

  • Dylan wears a dunce cap for a week
  • Dylan does 100 pushups in a row
  • Dylan eats 20 cheeseburgers in one sitting
  • Truman wears a dunce cap for a week instead


It turned out that our VIPs liked the free points, so they forgave Dylan and voted for me to wear a dunce cap. The vote was close (51% voted in favour of me wearing the cap). We revealed the punishment in another challenge the following week.


And, to finish, we made a video of my humiliating experience and shared it with our VIPs.

Within 4 days, more than 300 of our advocates watched the video. And they didn’t stop there. They went on to complete an average of two more activities inside our program. This raised our average monthly engagement rate by 18%.

This campaign was successful because it showed our personality and made our VIPs feel like a part of our brand.

Here are three ways you can inject your personality into your advocate marketing program and connect with your customers on a more personal level:

1. Give your hub a face.

Your customers want to interact with real people—not with your corporate logo. Make your advocate marketing program more personable by showing your advocates the real people working behind the scenes.

Be sure to introduce yourself to new advocates and ask what they want from your program. For example, do they want to learn how to use your product better or do they want to network with their peers? Do what you can to help them reach their goals.

2. Don’t make it all about business.

Your AdvocateHub should be a “marketing fluff-free zone”. Ditch the sales speak and use a conversational tone. It’s okay to address your advocates by their first names. You can even tell jokes—as long as these jokes align with their sense of humor. The more you speak your advocates’ language, the more they will listen. Advocates also appreciate challenges that are purely just for fun.

3. Always close the feedback loop.

When your advocates do things for you—such as send you referrals or write glowing product reviews—they show that they are committed to your success. Be sure to keep them in the loop after they take action on your behalf. Show them how they are helping and what results they are driving. When your advocates see their positive impact, they will want to help you even more!

You don’t need to wear a dunce cap to engage your advocates, but you must show your brand’s human side. When you share your successes and failures, your advocates will feel closer to you. This will boost engagement and help you get to know your customer’s better, too.

What have you done lately to bring a human element to your advocate marketing program?connecting_with_customers_engagement_challenges_truman0


enhanced_customer_experience_HP_advocate_program_ebook_covereBook: Transforming HP Software’s Customer Experience With Advocacy

Learn how one of the largest software vendors on the globe engaged, educated and delighted +1,000 customers through their scalable advocate marketing program, the HP ITSM Insiders. In our new eBook, Transforming HP Software’s Customer Experience With Advocacy, the HP team shares how they built their program, the incredible results they achieved after one year and advice for launching your own program.

Download the eBook now

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