If you’re contemplating a customer reference initiative, you might want to check out Gartner’s recent press release on how to create a program. They’ve broken it all down in just three steps: 1) Set your goals, 2) Develop a recruiting strategy to encourage customers to act as references, 3) Manage the day-to-day tactics of the customer reference program. We like how this model keeps it simple while highlighting what’s most important, and appreciate the notion that this isn’t something that can happen ad hoc:
“Customer references should be managed with the same discipline as any marketing program by putting someone in charge. This doesn’t have to be a full-time role, nor does it have to happen from Day 1, but in order to maximize return on investment in the program, this commitment must be made.”
Gartner’s perspective on customer reference management is particularly interesting. They are in the position to validate their recommendation with successful marketers and also comment based on their own experience. Their analysts regularly rely on and evaluate vendors based on the references they receive.