We have been spending the last couple months researching advocate marketing. Some people may call this process word of mouth marketing, customer marketing, etc. The overall concept no matter what you are calling it, just makes sense: Organizations find, organize and mobilize their advocates. Advocates are not just happy customers but true enthusiasts who embrace your company’s vision and willingly promote you through their interactions with others online or offline. Sounds great right?
If you want talk more about the topic I am speaking with Jim Williams from Influitive on a webinar: How to Transform Customers into Your Most Powerful Marketing Asset this Thursday at 10AM PDT.
Here are my five reasons b2b marketing organizations should embrace advocate marketing:
1. Buyers trust their peers – I don’t think I’ll be telling you anything new if I told you that buyers purchase products and services differently than they did 5-10 years ago. Buyers have always wanted preferred data from authentic, trusted sources. They just didn’t have access to them. Now that they can easily access authentic, trusted sources such as a company’s customers before they buy and they aggressively seek these sources well before engaging with salespeople. Here are some stats that prove this point:
- Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions. (Source: McKinsey Quarterly, April 2010)
- 63% of consumers search for help from other customers online. (Lithium – Digital Divide 2012)
- Brand advocates are 70% more likely to be seen as a good source of information by people around them. (BzzAgent)
2. Social and Community has accelerated this change in buyer behavior – Prospects can find current customers or learn about their experiences with your products in just a few clicks via obvious places such as LinkedIN or Quora or any of the hundreds of product review sites. Everyone talks about “being found” — The buyer is looking on third party sites. The best thing for you is for your advocates who are real end users make your case. Nothing is more annoying than when someone from the vendor comes on social media to talk about their product….That actually hurts your brand.
3. Advocate marketing is relatively easy to deploy — Unlike other strategic marketing initiatives, advocate marketing programs are relatively easy to deploy as all of the elements necessary for a successful program typically exist already in most organizations. For example, you likely have advocates who are already recommending you to their peers or taking reference calls (whether you realize this or not). Advocate marketing just allows you to organize this process which allows you to identify your advocates, generate more advocates, encourage advocate activity, and reward and recognize your advocates.
4. Referral leads are typically the highest converting lead source — On average, leads generated by referrals in b2b are the highest converting (typically four to 10 times more valuable than regular leads). They are also more economical: According to eMarketer, a company could fund an ongoing advocate marketing program for an entire year for about the cost of two full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal. Generating leads is hard. People ask me all the time for new sources, amongst other things I typically suggest: “How about from your customers?”
5. Why wouldn’t you want an engaged, happy customer base? — It’s funny, as I studied the advocate marketing market, I realized something primal: This is just good business. Oh and by the way, advocates do more than just contribute to revenue- they can help with product design, positioning, social media and content marketing, etc.
It’s truly a great topic. I look forward to talking about it more. Join Jim and I as we talk advocate marketing! How to Transform Customers into Your Most Powerful Marketing Asset this Thursday at 10AM PDT.
PS Photo is from Murray State