As a demand generation marketers, we know understanding our buyers at every stage of the buyer’s journey is important. However, more often than not, we focus on new customer acquisition, filling the pipeline with new prospects versus marketing to existing customers.
We know customers are important and customers can make or break an organization. It’s been said that it is more valuable (less expensive too) to retain a customer than acquire a new one for the recurring revenue and upsell and cross-sell potential, especially for SaaS companies.
In thinking about the value of customers from a marketing perspective, I keep reading and hearing about advocates, advocate marketing and frankly, am starting to see more than a few companies let their advocates do their talking for them and buyers are listening in. It just makes sense. If you have a satisfied customer, generally they are happy to spread the word, share their good experience and want others to have a similar, positive experience. Let’s face it, buyers trust their peers more than they trust marketers. It’s simple as that.
What defines advocates or advocate marketing and why it is so important? According to the dictionary produced by Influitive, one of the leading Advocate Marketing solution providers, advocates are, “customers, partners, employees, influencers and other stakeholders who are willing to publicly support, endorse or recommend your company, products, or services.”
Why focus on advocates and advocacy marketing in B2B? According to a 2014 article by Hank Barnes, Research Director at Gartner, “Will 2014 be the Year of Advocacy Marketing?” reports that 60% of buyers say their number one source for understanding differentiation of technology providers were peers of same size. Sixty percent is a percentage a little too big to ignore.
The value of peer evaluation and recommendations are why you need to focus on your customers and help harness their enthusiasm so they can easily share them with your next customers.
As a marketer, I am not saying to stop focusing on demand generation, continue to fill that funnel and never stop working to connect with your buyer. However, I am gently reminding of the value of existing customers. Customers can and should be part of your demand generation strategy, don’t forget to engage with them post-sale, and now more than ever, don’t forget to help them become your advocates as well. Sixty percent of their peers rely on them – help them share your message.
*Want to learn more about advocate marketing? Listen to Jim Williams, VP of Marketing at Influitive talk about the power of advocates on Leadspace Radio.