Before advocate marketing became a buzzword, I was always interested in building communities and developing strong relationships with key influencers and super fans.
I became an entrepreneur at 20, while attending college at UCSD, by starting a social media consulting practice. This was back in the days when social really wasn’t considered a formal discipline.
But through that experience, I learned how to connect with advocates that could help move my career forward and connect me with the right mentors and thought leaders to help drive real change in my business. Some of these people were Mari Smith, Mike Stelzner, and other social influencers that already had thriving businesses. By connecting with them and others, I was able to:
- Build my personal reputation and brand
- Attract new clients
- Drive 75% referral traffic to my website
- Grow my online presence to 70k+ Twitter followers
As a result, I learned how to build communities and drive engagement with key influencers—a skill that became even more useful when I transitioned to working in the tech world at companies like Google, YouTube, AOL and more.
Bringing advocacy into B2B marketing
As the space became more crowded with new social networks, it became harder for brands to stay relevant. It didn’t help that marketers were continuing to lose focus and get stuck in an endless cycle of shiny ball syndrome as they moved rapidly from one product or network to the next.
Luckily, I was staying staying abreast of all the latest changes and was able to use my skill set to communicate with and attract the attention of super fans that mattered wherever I went.
And that’s when advocate marketing programs got on my my radar. I learned about Influitive’s AdvocateHub, an advocate marketing software platform, from an article that a friend of mine shared with me. Advocate marketing offered a way to consistently engage and recognize customer advocates by connecting with and promoting brands. Immediately I knew this was a program I had to use and implement.
I couldn’t believe there was a tool that could manage an advocate marketing program in one simple, easy to use interface and provide ways to keep customers engaged and coming back week to week. Over the past few years, I was able to successfully implement an advocate marketing program at two different companies where I was able to:
- Generate 100+ reviews in less than a year
- Discover countless numbers of referenceable customers for sales
- Increase company revenue by 25%
- Produce tons of use cases, marketing collateral and product feedback
Advocacy not only helped my marketing stand out in the eyes of our customers, but also in my organization. I quickly became the go to person for getting things done and had a clear pulse on what our customers were talking about.
Since then, advocate marketing has propelled my career to new heights including speaking requests, career opportunities, and growing my income 5x before I hit the age of 30. I say that not to brag, but to emphasize how powerful customer advocates can be in shaping your business decisions and driving real actionable change in your organizations.
Using advocate marketing to fuel your career
So, how did I get internal buy in for such “radical” programs as advocate marketing?
1. Compare and contrast
First, I looked at successful companies in the B2B space and how they were marketing themselves. For example, there’s a social networking site called Spiceworks completely devoted to IT pros. I noticed how successful marketers were encouraging customers and prospects to participate in discussions about their product on Spiceworks so they could tap into this organic, user-to-user advocacy.
I knew immediately this would be helpful for the tech company I worked for. So, I positioned an advocate marketing program as the way to drive our customers to join relevant discussions in these competitive community spaces.
2. Make it a win-win situation
At my current company, NetBase, it was a little bit different. We market directly to social marketers, specifically analysts who live and breathe social media each and every day. And our team internally knew that these individuals were vying for opportunities to prove their worth, build up their credibility and boost their personal brand.
Again, advocate marketing made perfect sense. First, we invited these customers into an exclusive community where they could be seen as thought leaders and make important connections with their peers. Then, we recognized and rewarded them by helping them grow their network and social media profiles.
This turned them into stronger advocates for our brand which helped us generate new referrals, case studies and references, and solidified our relationship with key clients.
3. Share small wins and feedback
By presenting the opportunities that advocate marketing had to offer to the larger organization (marketing, customer success, sales, and product teams), I was able to get internal buy-in and the support I needed to drive actionable results throughout the company.
But the real thing that drove success was showcasing the small wins along the way. Updating stakeholders internally on the advocates that joined, the content they shared or created, and the sales they influenced helped my colleagues see that a valuable community was coming to life.
It also helped that direct feedback from customers about the program was extremely positive.
So, does advocate marketing really grow your personal brand? I’m living proof that it absolutely does! And it can work for any marketer who wants to tap into the power of advocates to drive real results at their organization—and grow their own professional success at the same time.