Entries by

Nominations & Reference Requests – How Many Should You Expect?

When you’re starting a brand new customer reference program, or re-starting a program, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Nominations and Reference Requests:  these are two fundamental “motions” of a reference program. One correlates to building your reference database, the other with effectively using that database: two sides of the same coin. Remember in elementary […]

Customer References Generate Demand Better!

One of the many stakeholders of a comprehensive customer advocate program is demand generation. The Demand Gen team focuses on the very top of the sales funnel, where enticing email campaigns, webinars, and digital marketing are the name of the game. B2B buyers are bombarded daily with demand gen communications and content. There’s a lot […]

Quashing the Reference Black Market

Every company that decides to take customer marketing more seriously, thereby harnessing its full potential, will have the reference black market to contend with as part of the change management process. Allowing this to continue will absolutely zap your customer reference program of its necessary momentum. It seems counterintuitive that people wouldn’t be happy to […]

Customer Advocate Nomination Campaign Best Practices

Customer advocate nomination campaigns are or should be a regular part of the rhythm of any customer reference program. They’re often used to jumpstart a new program where the current advocate knowledge is mainly in peoples’ heads or a smattering of spreadsheets in various departments like PR or product marketing. But the composition of your […]

Make Executive Heads Turn & Build Your Customer Marketing Program Faster

If you attended the PMA Customer Marketing Summit on April 13th and our session, Customer Marketing, All Grown Up, you got an inside look at the Genesys’ Global Customer Advocacy & Engagement program. Genesys is doing so many things right in terms of: Engaging new customers early Building relationships around mutual benefit Amplifying customer stories […]

What Are Your Customer Reference Program Stakeholders Thinking? Ask!

Not sure what your Customer Reference Program stakeholders think about your program? Ask! The whole raison d’etre for a customer reference program is helping Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success find advocates in short order and using them effectively and often. But if there’s a misalignment between your “product” and their need, the program has no […]

A Customer Marketing Q&A / Part II

There’s a lot more to discuss about the world of customer marketing! This is part II of my conversation with Kim Glover, consultant and leader of the customer marketing practice at Porter Consulting. where we share our observations, learnings and advice for customer marketers: new and veteran. When a new client is building a customer […]

Why 2021 Saw Historic Customer Marketing Turnover?

Customer Marketing functions experienced historic turnover in 2021. If you’re a customer marketing/advocate professional then you know of someone in the community who just changed companies this past year. Customer Marketing was the 3rd hottest job title posted on LinkedIn in 2021! We saw more than a third of our customers’ main points-of-contact change in […]

Why Sales Isn’t 110% Into Your Customer Reference Program

Ever wonder why Sales isn’t 110% into your customer reference program? After all, “If you build it, they will come.” That’s how you’d expect a customer reference program to be received, right? Confetti parade, fireworks! People were seriously complaining about not being able to find reference customers for sales calls, events, PR, customer videos, and […]

Holistic Customer Marketing

Holistic customer marketing is essential to optimized the value of your customer advocate program. Here are some things to help you achieve bette results. Customer Marketing has two definitions in the market. Leveraging customer advocates for the purpose of winning new customers Marketing to existing customers for the purpose of account expansion and renewal I’m […]

It’s the Search, Stupid

“It’s the Search, Stupid” is a twist on an old campaign slogan that applies to customer reference program success. If you’re old enough, you may recall a famous quip from a political advisor in 1992 concerning what he thought should be a presidential campaign messaging priority. “It’s the economy, stupid.” There were plenty of concerns and […]

Yes, Sales Needs Customer Reference Training

The title, “Yes, Sales Needs Customer Reference Training,” sounds crazy, doesn’t it? The people who always seem to need customer references, and often at  the 11th hour, may not be following best practices. How could that be? Think about how many companies you’ve been at where customer reference training was part of Sales onboarding/orientation. One? […]

Is Customer Reference Management a F/T Job?

You know the competition is stiff if you’re trying to hire a customer reference management or customer marketing manager right now. There are  the highest number of job postings we’ve seen over the past 18 years! As so many companies have—seemingly all at once—discovered the customer marketing imperative, we felt we needed to address the elephant […]

One-to-Many Reference Activities

Are you taking advantage of one-to-many reference activities? One-to-one reference calls are the standard approach for connecting a buyer and a customer reference. They are more labor-intensive to arrange but offer the most personalized sharing of information between two parties. The high-touch reference approach generally works pretty well until demand exceeds supply, such as at […]

Marketing Automation Accelerates Advocate Recruiting

Marketing automation is an essential tool to accelerate advocate recruiting. We’re 100% in favor of leveraging every possible channel to uncover customer references for your program. And not just any customer, the ones that help Sales and Marketing reach their goals,and not coincidentally, your company’s growth goals—the ones by which your CEO and the rest of […]

Customer Reference Management: It’s a Team Sport

Customer reference management is a team sport, yet how many customer reference programs out there are remote islands in their respective corporate sea? Too many! Customer reference programs are one of the most cross-functional programs in an enterprise. Yet, they’re often set up for failure when leadership isn’t involved in establishing the right conditions for […]

CROs – Customer Reference Programs’ New BFs?

As the leader of your reference program, how’s your relationship with your CRO? More and more companies we work with have invested in a relatively new CxO role: the Chief Revenue Officer. While this title has been around for at least five years, it’s becoming more mainstream, and customer reference program managers need to take […]

Hard Numbers Back Customer Reference Programs

Do hard numbers back the value of customer reference programs? Yes. Whether you’re looking at shortening the sales cycle, increasing customer retention, or improving sales productivity, the data is clear: customer references and content deliver quantifiable ROI. “References have an 80-85% likelihood of influencing a B2B purchasing decision. The most highly rated of any marketing […]

6 Signs a Customer Reference Program is in Trouble

Over nearly two decades in the customer reference arena, we’ve come to recognize the signs a customer reference program is in trouble. We see customer reference programs of all stripes; in different stages of maturity and producing different levels of results for stakeholders. While each company is unique in terms of executive support, sales culture, […]

Customer References & Buyer Confidence

Buyer confidence is an under-appreciated factor in purchase decisions — and customer references are key to building that confidence. I can’t think of a more humbling, stressful purchase decision than the one we go through when buying a home. You juggle multiple options, each with a list of pros and cons, price/feature trade-offs, the neighborhood’s […]

Crafting a Customer Content Plan

Crafting a customer content plan can be daunting. Have you just inherited a customer content management “program” that’s a mess? Or, maybe there’s never been a formal content management “program,” and you’re starting from scratch. If you need to put a plan together, and quickly, here is your roadmap. #1 Identify Stakeholders’ Needs It’s never […]

How Many Customer References Should I Have?

“How many customer references should I have in my program?” We routinely get this question from reference program managers, and the answer isn’t as cut and dry as one would guess. And it’s important to get it right, for these reasons. Recruiting customers for your customer reference program requires effort in the form of clearly […]

How Big is Your Customer Reference Black Market?

Oh, that infuriating customer reference black market! You’ve put a system in place—technology and or a collection of processes—specifically to wrangle the customer reference process and improve opportunity outcomes. Yet, the old messy reference “model” continues in DM and email channels. We call these backchannel, out-of-the-system methods the black market. You know that a more formal […]

Get your Customer Reference Program Unstuck!

It’s time to get your Customer Reference Program unstuck! If you’re in charge of a customer reference program and it doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere, and doesn’t get the respect it should, we have a good idea why and how to get it unstuck. Many customer reference programs begin and evolve organically—that is, without a […]

Is Digital on Your Customer Reference Stakeholder List?

Customer reference programs often make the mistake of leaving the Digital team off their stakeholder list.  In fact, the digital marketing team is rarely on the list of primary stakeholders (Sales, PR, demand gen, etc.) cited by customer reference program managers. Sure, customer quotes are always a reference type found on websites. But when talking about customer […]

How Well Do You Know Your Company’s Sales Process?

How well do you know your company’s sales process? How does a customer reference program manager know if customer advocate resources are being used by Sales to the fullest? This is a really important part of setting appropriate expectations (yours and leadership’s), as well as establishing continuous improvement goals aimed at winning more opportunities. When […]

Now’s the Time for a Customer Reference Consultant

Does your company need a customer reference consultant? First off, I’m not pitching a service. Rather, I’m predicting (and endorsing) a new role with marketing and customer success. There is a clear need for a more cohesive approach to customer marketing, customer reference marketing, customer success marketing or whatever your company calls it. Various customer […]

Leadership’s Role in Customer Marketing Success

Senior Executives throughout an organization need to invest in the customer advocate-centric approach that puts the customer and customer results at the heart of their enterprise. Today’s nimble organizations foster an active, cross-functional interchange of information. Marketing fills the funnel and Sales empties it.

User Adoption of Customer Reference Software

Customer reference technology — a software application to manage your customer reference program — is essential in today’s B2B companies. This post is a companion post to the User Adoption of Customer Reference Programs post. We recommend reading that first because the program itself must be adopted before any technology is adopted. No matter how elegant […]

Why Customers Choose to be Customer References

Why do customers choose to be a customer reference? Answer this question early in the life cycle of a customer reference program because it drives one of the most fundamental functions: attracting customer reference program members. It’s never too late to assess your environment if this question wasn’t answered earlier, or if the dynamics of your […]

7 Tips for Launching a Customer Reference Program

One of the biggest hurdles in launching a customer reference program is changing behavior, particularly when that program includes using new technology and instituting different processes. After all, most sales and marketing people aren’t technology wonks or process geeks. Many of our customers have achieved awe-inspiring results by leveraging our best practices combined with their […]

User Adoption of Customer Reference Programs

Customer reference program adoption by a company’s sales, marketing and customer success users may mean different things to different audiences in the company. We think of it in simple terms. The adoption goals of customer reference programs are no different than what marketing strives for in general: market penetration and mind share. For customer reference programs […]

Customer Marketing Should Care About Numbers

Marketing, as a whole, is more focused on measurement than ever before, and this is particular true for customer marketing and reference programs. CEOs are demanding that marketing be accountable for finding and cultivating prospective buyers, and technology is making attribution possible in ways that didn’t exist a decade ago. Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey report […]

Where Should a Customer Reference Program Live?

“Where should a customer reference program live?” We get asked this question frequently during our sales process. A prospective client recognizes the “customer reference problem,” and the need to put some focus on fixing it, but isn’t sure what department the customer reference program should call home. Ten years ago, the vast majority of customer […]

Customer Reference Program “Bad Practices” – Pt. 2

In part 1 of this post we covered 6 of the 11 program elements outlined in our maturity model assessment tool: Program Vision Staff Composition, Organization & Perspective Managing Upward Field Relationships Customer Reference Relationships Horizontal Integration As a reminder, these are common pitfalls we look for when making our client health assessments. They foreshadow […]

Customer Reference Program “Bad Practices” – Pt. 1

We’ve accrued many customer reference program best practices over the years. Our clients are innovative and driven people so there’s been plenty of material. We share those best practices every chance we get, but, I don’t think we’ve ever shared the other side of the best practices “coin.” That is, the bad practices, the common […]

Advisory Boards for Customer Reference Programs

Advisory boards are essential for customer reference programs, and yet most programs don’t establish one. As a customer marketing/customer reference/customer advocate program manager, you need regular feedback to ensure the program is on track to meet the needs of its stakeholders. Relevance is the name of the game. Your primary objective is to provide the […]

Building Your Customer Reference Army

A customer reference program (CRP) is nothing without a list of bona fide, satisfied customers. It’s the first building block among many blocks in assembling a legitimate program. You know there are plenty of candidates out there, but what’s the best way to get to that treasure trove? You have a number of options and […]

Engage Sales in Customer Reference Programs

How to engage Sales in customer reference programs?  Getting salespeople to adopt customer reference programs is often surprisingly difficult. Sometimes salespeople act like Greta Garbo―they just want to be left alone to do their thing in peace. While this is understandable, it isn’t okay when salespeople are ignoring or circumventing your customer reference management processes […]

Compromises that Kill Customer Reference Programs

Compromise is generally accepted as an important element in getting things done, but it can kill an otherwise great customer reference program. We’ve been in the customer reference world for going on 14 years. In that time we’ve worked with many reference programs of all flavors. When they struggle to reach their full potential the […]

To Build or Buy? Customer Reference Management Software

It’s a cyclical question in our domain. Does it make more sense to buy “off-the-shelf” customer reference management software to run your customer reference/advocate program, or to build it? It’s pretty attractive to think about the license fees that can be avoided if the internal IT group can develop a tool. So why not go […]

Capturing and Keeping CxO Engagement for Customer Reference Success

CxO engagement in your customer reference program (CRP) is the holy grail/ brass ring of many Customer Reference Program Managers. In conversations with clients and prospects, the topic of executive support always comes up.  Sometimes it is because a new customer reference initiative is risky. Other times, the program has been so tactical, executive awareness, […]

Rewarding Your Customer Advocates

Rewarding your customer advocates, yes or no? Is there a “right way” or a better way? The topic of rewarding customers for being references has always elicited a spirited debate. The same goes for spiffs for Sales and other teams that are part of the customer reference ecosystem. Bribe or Basic Etiquette? At the heart of […]

Mining for Customer Advocates

Are you mining your customer base to find your most precious asset: Customer Advocates? Satisfied customers who are willing to share their success stories as your client are the lifeblood of a customer reference program. Yet, most of the companies we start conversations with have not fully identified those clients, don’t know how many they […]

9 Tips for Selecting Your Customer Reference Management Software

Recently there was an excellent post on MarketingProfs outlining key considerations in selecting marketing technology.  The “Nine Critical Issues to Consider Before You Buy Marketing Software” had a lot of applicability to selecting customer reference management software specifically. Here are 9 technology agnostic “DO“s specific to our customer advocate domain: 1) Know All Your Pain Points […]

Produce Reference Customer Content That Stakeholders *Need*

If you’re in the customer advocate practitioner community you already know why developing and curating customer-centric content is a must-have component of your customer advocate program. When it comes to making decisions about technology, B2B buyers value peer opinions above all other vendor-produced content. Setting a quota of X case studies or videos in a […]

Customer Reference Program Measurement

“How do your customers measure customer reference program impact?” We get that question all the time. The good news is that it isn’t hard or complicated. It can be time consuming if you don’t have the right technology, but not impossible. Before going further it’s important to separate measurement of activities vs. measurement of outcomes. […]

Customer Reference Program Workflow Killers

All business operations have potential snags and customer reference programs are no exception. We have spent a decade and a half analyzing methods, designing systems, and helping streamline customer reference management processes to ensure client success. The people who need those references, salespeople predominantly, are resourceful and independent. When a program or project is working […]

Transforming Customer Reference Chaos into Strategic Asset

Many years ago a client, a top five strategic consulting firm, asked if we had any tools to help get her arms around the customer advocate program she recently inherited. It just seemed there were so many pieces and parts and some stakeholders yelled more than others, and that’s how the program evolved before she […]

Customer Content is Only Powerful if it Can be Found

There are so many ways to tell your company’s story through your customers. And the stories are out there along with customers willing to tell them in one form or another. But companies continue to struggle when it comes to getting those captured stories—customer content—into buyers’ hands. The Case for Customer Content According to a […]

Customer Advocate Programs Can Help Buyers Connect Emotionally

Emotional appeal is fundamental to business-to-consumer marketing. People select products based on how that product meets a real or perceived need or fulfills a desire. This was the subject of a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, and it got me thinking about how we in the B2B customer advocate community can contribute to the […]

4 Essential Skills for Customer Marketers

Marketing draws people with an essential combination of creativity and relationship building skills, but the demands of marketing program manager roles are changing. While those skills are still important, they need to be matched by proficiency with technology and data analytics, and a big picture perspective. As the B2B marketing function continues to evolve the […]

Sales & Marketing: Meet Your New Customer Advocate Partner

There are many ways that a Customer Success team can add value to the enterprise. From our customer advocate program perspective, CS fills an important, and often missing, part of the puzzle. Ownership of the customer relationship has often been a murky or even touchy subject. Salespeople are busy bringing in new business and often […]

Customer Advocacy: What B2B Can Learn from B2C

Behind every B2B purchase is a person—a person who is used to the online shopping experience as a B2C customer. Savvy B2B companies understand this and are adjusting their online marketing and purchase processes to emulate consumer experiences. Granted, there are significant differences between an individual purchase of a consumer good and the intricacies of […]

Profile Update Minder Feature in New Release of ReferenceEdge

Press Release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Point of Reference Expands App Automation to Take the Chore out of Keeping Customer Reference Intelligence Current DENVER, CO (PRWEB) July 1, 2015 – Point of Reference, a Salesforce® partner, announced today the Summer release its customer reference management app, ReferenceEdgeSM, that includes new advanced automation: Profile Update MinderSM. This […]

CIO-CMO Collaboration & Customer Reference Management

Move over Brad and Angelina. Get out of the way Kimye. Take a seat Will and Kate. The hottest new couple (at least in business) is the CIO-CMO. Today, being a digital business is synonymous with simply being in business. The lines between technology and brand have disappeared because the customer now experiences the brand […]

Overcoming the Top 4 Reasons Customer Reference Programs Fail – Inadequate Technology

This post addresses the fourth most common reasons customer reference programs fail: technology, or more specifically, a lack of technology. But a tool can only be as successful as the data stored within. These are our thoughts on why both are very important considerations.

Customer Reference Program Maturity Model Podcast – Element 4: Field Relationship

In this podcast, the fifth in the Customer Reference Program Maturity Model series, David and I discuss how the relationship with the Sales team impacts CRP success. Ultimately, if Sales isn’t using the reference program assets and systems, what’s the point? If you want to know how to find nirvana with the Sales team check […]