April 25, 2016

Advocate Marketing: Growing Affinity for Your Brand

Jim Williams, the VP of marketing at Influitive, was a recent guest on our podcast, B2B Nation: Smarketing Edition.

In the episode, we discussed:

    • The history and growth of advocate marketing
    • How to measure success with a program like Influitive
    • How MarTech’s growth impacts software purchases
    • Why ABM is the next stage in the B2B marketing evolution

Below are some of the highlights from our conversation.*

Word-of-mouth marketing isn’t new.

Word-of-mouth marketing isn’t new (click to tweet). It used to be something every brand really wanted, but no one knew how to create. You wanted people talking about you in the marketplace and that buzz associated with your brand, but it was something that had to happen organically. You had to have the right product at the right time. Your marketing can help your customer experiences, but it’s either going to happen or not happen.”

ALSO READ: 7 Ways to Get More B2B Product Reviews

“What’s changed is the idea of engineering word-of-mouth marketing. Things have changed with the rise of social media and social communities. The social web means that any buyer or consumer can basically connect with any other buyer or consumer with a little bit of research.”

Advocacy marketing is like Yelp.

“Just as you would use Yelp to read reviews from people like you instead of a restaurant’s website, the same is true for most companies today. In the B2B world, because of the rise of social media and social communities, I can see people just like me who are trying new products and services and new business plans. It’s more comforting for me and less risky to rely on what people are saying in my role than the promises of some marketing campaign or slick salesperson. Today, word-of mouth is more important than ever if you want to grow.” 

What do our customers really want from us?

“Platforms like Influitive allow you to systematically cultivate advocacy, ignite that passion, and mobilize your followers to say the right things in the right places. If you start to think about why your customers would agree to be a reference or do a case study, think about the social capital and status they’re trying to acquire, the expertise they’re trying to project, and build a whole program around cultivating that. You can get a lot more advocacy from your customers.”

There are nearly 4,000 MarTech products.

“Our number one challenge is not whether people believe in advocacy; it’s that there are so many other tools I can pick and choose to solve a variety of problems in my go to market strategy. How do we get advocacy up onto the radar above the fold? That’s a challenge for us, too . . . getting marketers to wrap their head around the idea that maybe the best voice for your marketing efforts is your existing customers — not your next email campaign or personalized widget.”

Maybe the best voice for your marketing efforts is your existing customers — not your next email campaign or personalized widget.

Lifetime value is a critical metric for SaaS companies.

“Lifetime value is the amount of time customers stay with you and how many additional products they buy. Your lifetime value is influenced by things like retention, upsell and cross-sell rate, and to a lesser degree, customer satisfaction scores. Those are things that can be influenced heavily by advocacy. When people see other customers talking about you, they’re more inclined to stick with you and redouble their effort.”

ABM frees you from the tyranny of the funnel.

“It frees you from this idea of pouring in thousands of names at the top to get a .25 percent conversion at the bottom. I view ABM as the next stage in the evolution of B2B marketing. It’s moving to a stage that requires the best of your investment in technology and your creativity in order to think more like a sales person. I believe that account-based-marketing is marketing trying to do the role of sales through their capabilities.

“If you’re a salesperson and your boss tells you to win 10 deals this quarter, you don’t go and target 200 companies; you target 10 great companies and start calling them. When one drops out, you pick up an 11th. That’s not the way marketers have been operating. They operate by saying, ‘Hey, if I need to close 100 deals, I’m going to target 1,000,000 people and give them content and draw them down this funnel.’ That’s just the way we’ve been operating. Those are the systems we’ve built, the process we have in place. ABM flips that on its head and says, ‘think like a salesperson.‘”

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B2B Nation: Smarketing is a podcast for B2B sales and marketers, featuring expert opinions and advice on the most important topics in the industry. Check out our other episodes on iTunes, or follow us on Twitter: @B2BNation_Smar

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* Some excerpts have been paraphrased to enhance readability.

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