First off, no, I’m not pitching a service. Rather, I’m predicting a new role in corporate America marketing. There is a need for a more cohesive approach to customer advocate marketing, customer reference marketing, customer marketing or whatever your company calls it. It’s being done today in pockets of your organization. It’s not a coordinated effort guided by a vision—like brand messaging. And as a result a slew of benefits are simply being left on the table.
The objective of this genre of marketing, regardless of the label, is the same: Reduce buyer reluctance to make a decision—in your favor—by providing ample evidence of customer success. Peer influence largely drives our personal buying decisions, and while there are differences, it is also the way most executives make buying decisions today.
A 2015 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
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 would keep one skilled resource plenty busy producing tangible results in a mid or large-size company.
Once the 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 facility 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 Advocates, Inside and Out
Customer advocates are strategic weapons in the brand and market share theater. They explain a company’s value like no company messaging alone can. They provide real-world examples, illustrate the personal and professional gain potential, and light the path to competitive advantage for buyers. They make the decision comfortable, even exciting. The Customer Advocate Consultant 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.
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 make your company’s solution the clear choice for buyers, this role is one of your best investments.