To summarize this concept of advocate marketing, it stems from studies today that demonstrate that B2B buyers don't trust traditional forms of marketing like they used to. Online ads, email promotions and other forms of PR have lost the impact that they previously had with all of the noise that exists in today's digital world. Buyers are also skeptical of sales people. They are going to do their own research via their social networks and through other means. Buyers trust people that have the same challenges that they do. Buyers trust people that went through a similar buying process. This is where your advocates come in and can help help bring authenticity and assurance that the buyer is making the right decision. The difficulty for the seller is connecting buyers and advocates together in a mutually beneficial and efficient manner. The key to this is forming an advocate marketing program.
|Mobilize your advocates|
I've been doing my research on this topic and have listed some resources that I thought you would find useful as a primer on this topic:
- How To Create A Customer Advocacy Program by Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimiter Group. Jeremiah provides a great overview on the need for an advocacy program and best practices on setting it up and making it successful. It's a must read.
- Looking for Advocacy Program Information by Hank Barnes of Gartner. This is a fantastic example for a few reasons. Hank's post is a call to arms for marketers to be more proactive on social media - don't just listen but act and use advocates as the lightening rod. In addition, this post became a case study for the success of advocate marketing programs influencing industrt analysts. Read the comments and then read this write up: How to Turbocharge Your Analyst Relations Program with Advocates
- Customer Reference or Customer Advocate – Is there a Difference? by Kimberlee Ellis of BMC Software. I wasn't clear what the difference was between a customer reference and a customer advocate when I started my new role. Kimberlee is obviously a pro in this field and passionately clears up this debate if there really was one. Be sure to subscribe to her blog.
- Marketing Is Dead by Bill Lee of the Customer Reference Forum. Bill is the thought leader in the space and his "Marketing is Dead" post probably stopped marketers in their tracks when it was first released. Bill provides a state of the nation of the marketing landscape and then provides excellent examples of how to leverage advocates. His message of helping to build social capital for your advocates is something that needs to be read carefully.
- Elevate Advocate Marketing Into a Core Business Process by Mark Organ of Influitive. Mark provides the necessary background into why advocate marketing is now prevalent but also arguing that it's something that has existed yet in another form. He provides practical examples of how companies can take advantage of their advocates today.