First off, no, I’m not pitching a service. Rather, I’m predicting (and endorsing) a new role in corporate marketing. There is a clear need for a more cohesive approach to customer advocate marketing, customer reference marketing, customer marketing or whatever your company calls it. Various customer reference activities occur today in pockets of your organization. It’s not a coordinated effort guided by a vision—like brand messaging is – and as a result, your company is leaving a slew of benefits on the table.
The objective of this marketing genre, regardless of what you label it, is the same: Reduce buyer reluctance to make a decision—in your favor—by providing ample evidence of customer success. Peer influence is a significant driver in our personal buying decisions, and while there are differences, it also impacts most corporate buying decisions today.
A SiriusDecisions study of more than 1,000 B-to-B buyers revealed that 71 percent of a buyer’s vendor selection decision is based on customer experience.
Customer Advocate Consultant Defined
To ensure your organization can address the need for peer influence, you need a strategy and a strategic leader with a consultative approach. So, what does this Customer Advocate Consultant role look like? It’s a cross-functional position with a goal of relentlessly seeking out ways to incorporate customer perspectives and experiences in any forum or channel that influences buyers, analysts, partners, investors, and employees. While this might be achievable on a part-time basis, done correctly, this job would keep one skilled resource plenty busy producing tangible results in a mid- or large-size company.
Once advocate opportunities are identified then there needs to be an effortless way to match advocates with those opportunities. That necessitates reliable, up-to-date advocate intelligence and a search capability for that data that supports granular search criteria. Of course, a steady flow of new referenceable customers that cover all the important segments (industry, product, use cases, etc.) is the foundation of such a program.
The Power of Customer Advocate Consultants, Inside and Out
Customer Advocates are strategic weapons in the brand and market share theater. They demonstrate a company’s value like no corporate messaging alone can and provide real-world examples, illustrate the personal and professional gain potential while lighting the path to competitive advantage for buyers. Customer Advocates also make the purchasing decision comfortable, even exciting.
A Customer Advocate Consultant has intimate knowledge of their company’s advocates and is a natural participant in strategic activities at the highest level: new product planning, acquisition discussions, VC meeting preparation, company event planning, partner onboarding and acculturation, and more. Why? Because what the consultant learns by listening to customer experiences should be the foundation of company messaging, employee training and inform the design of processes that impact the customer experience going forward.
We believe this is the year we’ll see more of these positions emerging in those companies that heed the steady drumbeat of B2B buyer studies, and most importantly, “get it.” If you want to make your company’s solution the clear choice for buyers, creating the Customer Advocate Consultant role is one of your best investments.