Are you a customer-obsessed marketer or a customer-naïve one?
According to Forrester, a marketer that is passionate about their customers is three times more likely to cultivate consumer advocates than marketers who don’t pay that close attention.
Due to long sales cycles and high acquisition costs, B2B is a field that thrives on customer retention. For this purpose, it is imperative that a marketer engages in customer advocacy which in turn produces customer stories and testimonials. The likelihood of gaining a new B2B customer is just 5 to 20 percent compared to the likelihood of selling to an existing one which is 60 to 70 percent (Marketing Metrics)!
A customer advocate or also called a brand advocate is a customer that talks in favor of your company or product and then gives a positive word-of-mouth message to their network of colleagues and friends. These advocates can also be referred to as ‘connectors’ as they connect people to things they like as well and they even take it upon themselves to share their knowledge about your company or product.
A B2B prospect looks to the opinions of their peers and colleagues when searching for information on a vendor’s services. This can occur as early as the discovery stage in their buying process. In order to face this challenge, B2B vendors need to cultivate advocates among their existing customers who can serve as ideals when trying to attract and persuade prospects.
Creating Brand Advocates
But it isn’t too difficult to create brand advocates if you just follow a few tips.
- Delivering on a brand promise
Be consistent, reliable and prove your worth in order to create and enlist brand advocates. Converting a B2B purchase manager into a customer advocate is an achievement in itself and can be achieved by just delivering on any promise made by your brand.
- Understanding customer issues
It is not enough to just know the business and personal information of your customers. You must understand their business challenges, operational issues, roadblocks in product development and any safety concerns.
- Creating a brand community
Find a way to connect your advocates so they can share their experiences and any ideas they have about your brand or solution. You can bring them together through forums in order to openly discuss challenges and growth plans.
- Aligning marketing executions with advocate’s success
Communicate the value of your brand by clearly demonstrating what is important to your customers. An advocate’s success can be referenced as a direct deliverable from your offerings.
- Creating remarkable experiences
B2B companies are popularly perceived as too robotic and mechanical, so it is vital that marketers excite, surprise, and engage brand advocates so as to give them something to talk about. Move away from just focusing on a transaction and start producing more value.
Types of Brand Advocates
Once you have figured out how to create customer advocates, you need to focus on identifying potential product champions.
- Happy Customers
Your support and customer success teams will be able to identify those customers that are happy to use your product or service.
These customers take the time to refer your product or service to new prospects.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) Promoters
In order to get a concise understanding of the satisfaction level of a customer a single question is asked and this is part of the NPS survey. The customers who rank your product or service with a 9 or 10 can be called your promoters and can also be categorized as happy customers.
- Social Sharers
These sharers are those customers that are already sharing your content on social media platforms on a regular basis.
- Repeat Content Visitors
Monitor the visitors that are revisiting your content and the amount of time they are spending on it.
Even if the feedback that your critics are giving you is something you disagree with, still listen to them as it demonstrates the amount of value you have for this which is a big step towards converting them to an advocate for your company.
Holy Grail of Business Growth
Channeling the people who use and love your services and then purposely inserting them into your sales and marketing process is the ultimate step towards an increase in business growth. Customer advocacy needs to be an enterprise-wide objective as these loyal customers build awareness that helps in driving sales, increasing revenue and can have a huge effect on public opinion of your company.
With the use of customer advocacy, the following types of authentic content can be created by companies.
- Validation: Your company can highlight the positive impact your brand is having on your customer’s business through the use of case studies, social sharing, and references.
- Education: Through company forums, communities, as well as brand ambassadors, you can help current customers troubleshoot their problems and use your product or service better.
- Dedication: With the help of MVP programs, referrals, and speaker bureaus, you can spotlight those customers that are at the epitome of their success.
- Inspiration: Advocates can help your company offering grow by providing their invaluable feedback on customer advisory boards.
80% of companies who have a roster of their customer advocates do not leverage them in their marketing strategies according to JitBit. This is a major flaw and error on their part as it is highly beneficial and a low-cost way of generating new business.
According to the CEO of Close.io, “If your product is good and solves a need better than other existing solutions, you should experience steady growth just from word of mouth. That’s a big indicator of product/market fit (PMF) – and if it’s not happening, you know that you haven’t achieved PMF yet.”