• Buyers and customers demand authentic stories from their peers to make purchase and renewal decisions
  • Customer advocacy content has high demand and impact, but B2B organizations need a more intentional, aligned approach to its planning, creation, and use
  • Understanding four common mistakes B2B organizations make with their customer advocacy content helps inform future practices and improvements

In his latest book, A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload, Cal Newport examines how email has changed the workplace. According to Newport, email has created a state of constant, anxious chatter that hampers productivity while consuming the modern knowledge worker’s most precious resource: sustained attention. His book explores how organizations can use this resource more effectively.

For B2B organizations, customer advocacy content (e.g., case studies, testimonials, reviews, customer-sourced advice) is some of the highest-impact content available. It helps buyers and customers understand their peers’ experiences. According to Forrester’s 2021 Customer Advocacy in B2B Survey, 84% of B2B organizations say the information they learn from current customers is “critical” or “valuable” for closing deals. Beyond providing B2B buyers with insights and reassurance for their purchase decision, it sparks ideas and engagement. But like preserving knowledge workers’ sustained attention, most organizations should be more thoughtful about their advocacy content and participating advocates by avoiding four common mistakes.

Mistake One: Sticking To The Same Formula

Many B2B organizations do the same thing over and over when they plan their customer advocacy content. It may be the same stale interview questions used to develop case studies, or a routine of developing the same assets for each customer. In some organizations, it extends to creating more of the same types of customer stories, covering use cases, offerings, or customer types when many advocacy assets already exist. Over time, this is a real miss: The organization isn’t creating the advocacy content that key audiences need, whether in substance or preferred content format types.

Tip: Take stock of your existing advocacy content. Notice what assets are being used today, when, and by whom, then identify where you have gaps. For future planning, focus on the information your audience is seeking. Find out what content format types they prefer, and where they go for information. For example, if you’re lacking assets that cover key topics, use cases, or offerings for which you have heavy demand for customer references, prioritize new assets in these areas. Also, be more focused on the different content format types you create.

Mistake Two: Asking Advocates To Do Everything

A corresponding habit for some organizations is asking advocates to participate in a full menu of content or activities without assessing the advocate’s strengths and desires and scheduling, or their organization’s approval cycles. Even more common is the scenario in which different teams in B2B organizations make requests of the same advocates. This puts too much of a burden on the advocate and risks expending resources to create content that doesn’t produce intended results.

Tip: When you identify customers for future advocacy content, understand each advocate’s motivations and strengths. Invest in conversations with advocates and consider creating advocate personas to determine what types of content or activities the advocate suited for, and what is possible with the advocate’s organizational approvals. Centralize advocacy requests and make the co-creation process easy for the advocate, with explanations about what’s involved and the timelines during early discussions.

Mistake Three: Planning And Creating Advocacy Content In Silos

Content problems often stem from communication problems. Advocacy content is produced by different parts of an organization, from marketing in both corporate and regional teams to sales, customer success, and product. Many organizations have inadvertent duplications or gaps because they lack visibility and alignment on advocacy content, from how it’s planned and created to where it’s used and stored.

Tip: Work across teams to adopt a shared planning process, or a content calendar for tracking advocacy content. It helps various teams see what advocacy content is available and in progress. There’s also a way to find out whether there are already advocacy requests or approvals in progress with a customer. This takes time and considerable effort, but even starting this within one function pays off over time. This communication streamlines work with advocates, content creators, and teams using the content to avoid misunderstandings or duplication.

Mistake Four: Taking A One-And-Done Approach

Advocacy content has an additional layer of management with advocate participation and customer approval. After all the effort to create and publish this content, some organizations leave advocacy assets in place indefinitely. Beyond creating bloated repositories, there’s an even bigger downside to this approach: outdated, irrelevant, or conflicting advocacy content that creates obstacles in the buyer’s journey or customer lifecycle.

Tip: Monitor your advocacy assets. Yes, this takes ongoing effort, but advocacy content is in high demand, with a great potential reward for its quality and freshness. Retire the assets in which the company that’s featured is no longer a customer. Watch for assets in which the advocate who’s highlighted has changed roles or left the company.  Check on whether the customers featured in assets are still using the original solution being referenced — you may have potential to update a great story and give audiences valuable information.

At Forrester’s B2B Summit North America, Amy Bills and I will address these types of considerations in the session, “Conquer The Chaos Of Your Case Studies” on Wednesday, May 5. Join us for this session and during peer roundtable discussions at the event.