Can Customer Advocacy Be Demand Creation’s Best Friend?
- For customer advocacy to play a role in demand creation, it’s essential to understand the current state of the customer base
- Also evaluate customer advocacy processes, including sourcing, engagement, management and production
- A growing list of technologies is available to support customer advocacy processes
It’s interesting how often people who work or live near each other ask “Why didn’t I get to know you earlier?” once they’ve finally connected. The same is true when walls come down between functional departments that may not have had much to do with each other in the past. But when the functions find a compelling reason to connect, good things happen.
A case in point is the relationship between customer advocacy marketers and demand creation teams. We’ve been talking for some time about how customer advocacy is the new demand creation, reflecting both the relative rising importance of advocacy and the way advocacy increasingly is supporting demand creation efforts.
But before deciding if customer advocacy and demand creation can effectively work together to the point that customer advocacy resources and processes can be incorporated into demand creation processes, consider a readiness exercise that includes the following elements:
- Current customer relationship assessment. If customer advocacy will play a meaningful role in demand creation, it’s essential to understand the current state of the overall customer base. B2B organizations with significant customer experience issues will likely find it challenging to incorporate advocacy strategies into demand creation initiatives, as satisfied customers may be in short supply.
- People assessment. Although the core of advocacy efforts centers on various marketing functions, other internal departments, such as sales and product teams, can play key supporting roles. Your readiness assessment should evaluate the degree to which each of these departments supports advocacy development, and how well the departments work together to make everything from advocate sourcing to asset production work as smoothly as possible.
- Process assessment. The third advocacy readiness assessment factor is how key internal processes support advocate development, from initial identification to active participation. Evaluate internal advocacy processes to understand the state of your advocacy program, including sourcing, engagement, management and production.
- Technology assessment. The fourth customer advocacy readiness assessment addresses how technology supports essential advocacy processes. Although B2B organizations often rely on in-house options to generate customer references and advocates, a growing list of technologies is available to help improve productivity. These include reference management technologies, advocate marketing platforms, customer evidence platforms and outsourced advocacy production solutions.
By conducting an advocacy assessment, marketers can gain an understanding of the current state before deciding how the advocacy program can support demand creation efforts. While there is no doubt that advocacy is playing an increased role in B2B, conducting this assessment before making any commitments ensures investments can be planned appropriately.