Advocate Marketing is a powerful strategy available to B2B marketers.  It is a form of marketing that emphasizes engaging existing customers in your business and theirs.  These customers talk about, tweet about and may even blog about your company and its products and services.  Their third party endorsement helps lend credibility to your brand, as well as increases the visibility and power of your customer’s personal brand as a professional in their industry.

Have you seen an ad or thought leadership campaign where the message or story is being delivered by a customer instead of the brand? What were your thoughts? How did you feel? Did you find yourself getting drawn in faster, or questioning the statements less? This is a trusted source for marketing.  This is a brand differentiator. This is an untapped opportunity not enough B2B companies utilize.

Yet, outside of a customer building credibility about your brand through their story, there is another aspect of advocate marketing that sets it apart as a viable tool in today’s marketing mix.  When leveraging your customer advocates in your marketing initiatives, you are asking your customer to help create content and drive conversations from their end, at little-to-no additional cost to your company. This shift saves money and builds buyer trust while simultaneously extending your company’s brand exposure.

Advocate Marketing Has Many Benefits to B2B Organizations

1. It Establishes Credibility…and lots of it!

No longer can an organization rely on their own content creation to outperform last year’s metrics.  Marketers should consider engaging their Happy Customers in their brand campaigns throughout as many stages of the buyer’s journey as possible.  By creating content specifically for your advocates and having them share it, it’s much likelier your message will resonate with your target audience as it is coming from their peers.  Additionally, great content, co-created with your advocates, simply has a longer shelf-life.

Brand advocates are 50% more likely to influence a purchase.  YET… just 20% of brands use advocate and experts programs in their marketing. – Marketing Charts

2. It Diversifies Your Company’s Message

With the immediacy of social media, you are competing for your audience’s attention with any content you create and promote.  Changing up the message and the content can help you break through the noise and connect with your intended audience.

Take it another step further in your content strategy and allow your advocates to add their own message you are promoting for them.  This could take the form of a thought leadership piece that does not even mention your company’s name!  How novel is that?  High risk – no.  High reward – yes!

Advocates contribute to the brand growth in a more natural way.  By leveraging highly diversified types of content, you will more likely appeal to the various buyer personas you are trying to reach. 

3. It Fosters Relationships with Other Advocates and Attracts More

Focusing on your customer advocates helps you drive more business.  When content is created intentionally for and with your customer advocates, you achieve more that just creating new content.  You are letting your customers know you recognize them as a thought leader, partner or innovator in their field.  You are spotlighting these customers as a credible source for information.

Encouraging these relationships, you demonstrate that you see your customer advocates as a valued partner.  By using your customers’ authentic voice in your content, you increase your social reach and build brand exposure.  You not only are in a position to drive more business but you also are likely to attract more customer advocates for your brand.

Differentiating Your Brand

Companies are realizing that happy customers are their best sales reps and can be leveraged as a true competitive advantage. “If you’re not doing it, your competitor is.” – Barbara Thomas, Global Customer Advocacy Team Leader at Microsoft.  When an Outside Perspective Makes All The Difference

Your marketing department can spend less and create more effective engagements through customer-generated content.  A main point of this strategy is finding your dedicated advocates of your brand and then ensuring the advocacy continues by fostering their success.  This in turn attracts more advocates and generates more genuine sentiment for your brand as well as more authentic content you can activate throughout the entire buyer lifecycle from a trusted source – your customers!  This is where you can differentiate your brand from your competition.

To learn more about the essential tools needed to build a case for customer advocacy marketing in your organization, download The Winning Case for a Customer Advocacy Solution eBook.

Co-author: Zoe Meyer, Founder and Managing Director, customer-360

Nichole Auston
Customer Marketing Director at RO Innovation
Nichole Auston is the Customer Marketing Director at RO Innovation. With a background in digital marketing and nearly a decade of experience managing marketing programs for a variety of SaaS companies, she’s passionate about sharing insights, best practices and stories about sales enablement and customer reference management, and the people and technology that power it.
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