Two things marketers can’t seem to have enough of are budget and customer advocates. While budget is nearly always limited (and often further reduced as a year goes on) there are no such restrictions on the number of customer advocates marketers can pursue and secure.
The key questions to consider are what the likely (and unlikely) sources of advocacy are and how to best utilize them.
In previous posts, we discussed some of the common sources of advocates, but I’d like to ask you to think about some of the underutilized sources. These sources may require a bit more effort, but they often can deliver a surprising cache of advocacy assets.
- Customer loyalty surveys. Some would argue these would be considered a common source of customer advocates, but we’re constantly surprised at how many companies neglect to ask satisfied customers to participate in advocacy efforts. On the other end of the customer satisfaction spectrum, don’t ignore the detractors. Help turning a dissatisfied customer into a happy customer can be a very powerful form of advocacy. Get access to responder data if you don’t already have it, and turn those promoters (and maybe even a few detractors) into advocates.
- Social participation. A growing opportunity for advocacy development is the ability to monitor social media activity to determine what your customers are saying. Increasingly, we see customers and prospects relying on informal communication methods to educate themselves about products and solutions. Find out who’s saying what about your company and how to leverage it.
- Community involvement. In-person and online communities are another great source of advocacy. Play an active role in user groups, customer advisory boards, and product or industry councils to learn how your customers are gaining value from your offerings. Online communities are equally valuable and can exhibit some of same qualities as social networks. Whether online or offline, advocates reside in these communities and are waiting for an invitation.
- Direct customer involvement. Too often, marketing relies exclusively on sales to lead the way toward advocacy. While it’s always best to let sales reps know if you’re engaging with their customers, taking the initiative to tell customers you’d like to be involved helps build customer relationships and can be a freeway to advocacy. Sometimes customers view marketing differently than they view sales. Participating in the sales cycle (as appropriate) is a great way to make new connections.
What are the untapped sources of advocacy in your organization? Take time to look within these often-overlooked data sources and develop a plan to mine them for possible advocacy opportunities. You might be surprised at what you find.