Jim Williams is Vice President of Marketing for Influitive, a Saas company that helps B2B marketers leverage “advocates”—actual product or service users—to support marketing campaigns, refer new clients and close deals. He recently sat with host Steve Gershik on Leadspace Radio to talk about the power of advocacy—the modern equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising. Here are some excerpts to get you thinking about how you can leverage advocate marketing in your organization.
LS: What is advocate marketing, and how is Influitive helping to solve the problem of activating your advocates?
JW: Advocate marketing is an emerging marketing discipline that helps B2B marketers identify, mobilize and recognize their best advocates; people that can go out and support their marketing campaigns, refer new business to them or help close deals faster.
LS: And by advocate, you mean…
JW: Like it or not, a lot of purchase decisions, even at the B2B level, start with word of mouth. For example, I talk to you Steve, you tell me you’re using a great product like Leadspace to identify the best leads. So if I’m interested in a better way to identify leads, you’ve immediately reduced the risk for me in buying Leadspace.
LS: I’ve become an advocate.
JW: Right, someone I know and trust, someone just like me, a peer, a colleague, is using it and having great results. Those conversations, those connections like the one you and I just had about Leadspace happen all over the social web, every day. So, if you are a marketer the best thing you can do is get more people out there talking about their positive experiences with your products and services.
LS: I imagine there are any number of things you can do to encourage your advocates to spread the word on your behalf.
JW: Yes. The problem is that the way many people do it is primarily manual and fractured. You’re a product marketer, you go out and find a list of names, you start calling them and asking them to do product reviews. If you’re a salesperson you have a list of names and you ask for references. If you are a Demand Gen person you have a list of names, you ask people to join you on the next webinar.
In all three cases we’re talking about a manual process, and they are probably all calling on the same customers and asking for help. They don’t know whether the customers they’re calling are actually interested in helping, and usually there is almost no recognition, reward or incentive for the customer to help out outside of their love of the brand of the product.
LS: And Influitive provides a platform to solve those issues?
JW: Right. It consolidates all of the “asks” from everyone in your organization into one “advocate hub.” Then, we use game mechanics to involve the advocates; awarding things like points and badges and recognition on leader boards. They enter competitions, they unlock perks, privileges, more access, more status within the company, and so forth.
LS: And people do that? They become involved that way?
JW: Keep in mind like the psychology of an advocate. People do this for you not just because they are going to get points or badges or a gift card or a wine club membership or anything. They are doing it for you because they truly believe in your brand, your product, your vision. So the best perks tend to be things like status. If you can join a customer advisory board because you are a great advocate, that’s awesome. Sometimes access is what people crave. They want to literally have the Bat phone to the CEO or the head of product or the head of customer success or whatever it might be.
LS: Let’s say I am just getting started with an advocate marketing program. What’s the first thing that I need to do?
Jim: First, identify your super advocates. Depending on the size of your organization, it might be the top two, three, four percent of your customers that you know you can count on for help. The people you go to when an analyst wants to talk to a customer, or you’re writing a press release, you want to do a case study etc. .
You then want to identify the next group of advocates. They may be people that have indicated that they are a fan of you or your product but they haven’t actually participated yet. So the first step is to gather your advocates. Now there is a whole bunch of other stuff like; what are the objectives of your program? How are you going to measure against it? What type of “Asks” you’re going to do? What are the types of perks or privileges that you are going to implement? All of those are steps that you will take when you build out a program. We’ve actually written it all down in what we call an advocate marketing playbook, and it’s free on our website (www.influitive.com). It’s how you build a program; sans technology. You don’t have to have our platform to begin building and advocacy program.
To hear all of Jim Williams’ insights on advocate marketing, check out the entire interview here via Leadspace Radio.