Customers, Customers Everywhere

Building a Customer Advocacy Program

The push and pull of when, where and how to tap into the power of customers for marketing and sales purposes is always a balancing act. Customers who are happy to sing your praises are certainly a goldmine but can also quickly accumulate “request fatigue” with too many reference and marketing requests. Also, as the holy grail of customer testimonials, household brand names are often the most difficult to entice into public sales and marketing efforts.
Following are a few tips to cultivate and nurture the right mix of customers for a well-balanced customer advocacy program:
It’s All about Process
Customer participation requests are aplenty across organizations, but often happen without proper transparency across the requests. For example, one person might pursue a customer for an award submission or speaker nomination, only to discover that said customer has already been tapped for two analyst references and three RFPs in the last month. A living master list of all referenceable customers should be maintained to avoid tapping into the well too many times and ensuring other possible customers can be nurtured.
Start Small, Go Big
Although the most prominent brands are often avoided given their proclivity to sidestep support for vendors, awards that highlight the brand rather than the vendor – and in particular the project lead – are excellent ways to begin nurturing the client to participate in more joint marketing activities such as speaking engagements and even case studies.
Be Choosy
Some customers are glad to participate in anything. However, for those more conservative with public displays of affection, reserve them for more intimate reference requests such as analyst research reports and RFPs. This will allow the marketing team to tap into the outspoken advocates for higher-profile opportunities without overfatiguing them.

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