“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos
You can’t ensure what people say about you when you are not around. But you can definitely influence it by making one among them to vouch for you. Welcome to the world of brand advocacy – a brilliant marketing strategy that capitalizes on the phrase “word of mouth”. According to a Forrester study, advocate marketing can create B2B customer relationships that last a lifetime.” Having customer evangelists who believe in your product and can act as your spokesperson is better than any marketing campaign. It’s all the more important in the enterprise space where multi-million dollar deals are involved.
Typically large corporations spend huge amount of money on events for B2B sales advancement. Most of their budget goes into expensive receptions, banners, booths and sponsorships. However, this spend hardly assures an equivalent event ROI. Customer advocacy, on the other hand, can be instrumental in getting you the right referrals with an added credibility. In today’s socially networked world that is inundated with crowd sourced information, customers trust user stories more than any Sales or Marketing claim. They refer to multiple sources of information and engage with peers to arrive at the most viable solution rather than blindly letting brands influence their buying decisions. What can be a more trustworthy review for your product than a happy customer?
In this blog, we will explore this concept further and bring to you few smart strategies to build a great customer advocate program.
Create the customer advocate persona internally and find the right match for it
Not all customers can serve the purpose of your brand advocacy program. This persona will be dependent on the branding objective and stage of your product lifecycle. If you are about to launch a new product or a new UI of your older product, this persona will be different from the advocate who will fit into the stage of launching a new product in a different geography. Also, the customer you choose should have the right team and resources to contribute towards a meaningful relationship. Before reaching out to your customers, create a detailed persona and tweak the offerings of your advocacy plan accordingly.
Focus on building a long-term relationship
Trust is the bedrock of any form of relationship. Build your advocacy program around years long associations that you can bank on in the longer run. Welcome your advocates as valuable contributors to your company vision, product strategy or growth plans. Keep an ear open to their opinions and address their concerns in a transparent and honest manner. Treat them the way you would treat your investors. They can be effective advocates only when they are invested in your future as much as you are.
Make the relationship beneficial and rewarding without adding monetary transactions
Customer advocates should love your products and be willing to speak for you without monetary benefits. Make the relationship beneficial by providing them a platform to promote themselves and feel proud of being associated with you. Uphold them as your thought leaders, mention them in your articles, host their blogs on your platform, and give them a variety of resources to evangelize. Also, understand what motivates them and create exclusive benefits of your products for them.
Maintain regular ongoing communication
Commit to regular meetings and activities to keep your relationship smooth. Come together to create a quarterly or biannual calendar and share it with stakeholders from both sides. Customer advocate programs are successful only when they engage in ongoing activities.
These are the very basics to get you started on customer advocacy. Above all, remember to recognize your advocates at events, add their testimonials and build awareness around your partnership. Strive to build a long-term and meaningful relationship with your advocates and make them a powerful extension of your brand.