This article comes from the panel, ‘The revenue-driving secret weapon: How to win & maintain advocates’ , at our Las Vegas 2023 Customer Marketing Summit, check out the full discussion here.

Want to know the revenue-driving secret weapon winning over today's leading tech brands? Customer advocacy.

Passionate users are a marketer's dream - they voluntarily promote your product, provide insights, and drive growth. In this can't-miss panel, customer advocacy experts from Cisco, Yubico, Upwork, VMware, and ShoutOut shared their top tips for advocacy success.

With our industry leaders, Preston Ritter, David Olsen, Jessica Noland, Erin O'Quinn & Dan Gable, you'll learn how to identify true advocates, prove program value, nurture relationships over time, and maximize content reuse.

Join these advocacy all-stars as they pull back the curtain on their secrets to customer loyalty. Whether you're new to advocacy or a seasoned pro, you'll leave inspired to turn your customers into raving fans. So let’s dive in!

Defining the field

Jessica Noland, Customer Advocacy Manager at Upwork loves the highly cross-functional nature of customer advocacy. Her team works closely with groups like sales, product, investor relations, marketing, and more.

This gives her exposure to parts of the business she wouldn't normally interact with day-to-day.

Preston Ritter, Americas Customer Marketing Leader at Cisco is the self-proclaimed "chief fun officer" in addition to his official role. Working at Cisco for 10 years, his passion lies in the community-building aspect of customer advocacy.

Cisco even has an "insider advocate" program that keeps their most loyal users engaged through both private reference opportunities and fun social interactions.

For Preston Ritter, advocacy is all about making real connections with customers, not just using them as marketing assets. Building genuine relationships is the key to success.

Dan Gable, Founder of ShoutOut unsurprisingly is a huge believer in the power of customer story videos. For Dan, he feels that the short-form user-generated video content is an underutilized way for advocates to share their expertise and stories.

Video campaigns don't have to be expensive productions - things like one-word compilations or slideshows set to music also work great.

Erin O'Quinn, Global Director of Customer Advocacy at VMware has been tied to customer advocacy for 7 of her 10 years at the company, but loved the experience and thrives on sharing her insights with those newer to customer marketing roles.

David Olsen, Director of Customer Advocacy at Yubico, believes content is king when it comes to advocacy programs. With 7 years of experience in customer advocacy at Adobe before joining Yubico, David has seen firsthand that case studies are the most critical type of content.

Under David's leadership, the Yubico advocacy program expanded into new content types like video and speaking opportunities. Through this he recognized quality content creation as the core of customer advocacy success.

Distinguishing advocates from references

A key part of managing an advocacy program is understanding what actually makes someone an advocate versus just a reference. Let’s dive into our expert’s definitions of this:

Jessica Noland has a clever example to illustrate the difference - say two people are asked about their experience with a fitness app like Peloton.

One person simply confirms "Yes I use it, it's a great app. I have the bike at home and use it around 3 times a week." This is a reference.

Whereas an enthusiastic advocate would say: