This article comes from Sukhpal Sran’s talk, ‘Better together- the secret to working with sales’, at our London 2023 Customer Marketing Summit, check out the full presentation here.

I'll never forget the look of surprise on Mark's face when I told him he was one of our top 10 customer advocates at Mendix. Mark Bus, who oversees the Mendix program at ABN Amro, was genuinely stunned to hear the impact of his advocacy efforts over the past year.  

As I recounted all the reference calls, customer stories, and speaking engagements Mark had participated in, I realized something - that this level of advocacy was simply natural for him. 

It was this exact mindset I wanted to nurture and formalize through our customer advocacy program.

For years, there was no way to formally recognize and energize advocates like Mark. But in the last 16 months, we've grown our exclusive advocacy program by over 400% while aligning it closer than ever with sales, product, and the rest of the business. 

Let me share some insights into how we did it.

The growth of our customer advocacy program  

When I took over our advocacy efforts as head of Global Customer Advocacy at Mendix around 18 months ago, the "program" consisted of just 31 customers engaged in ad-hoc activities. 

We had no formal systems or processes in place, and we clearly needed to apply the same "start, structure, scale" methodology that Mendix uses to our advocacy approach.

We started small by proactively identifying and recruiting certain advocates from our customer base. Today, we have 237 members in our advocacy community, and that number is only going to keep growing.

Our goal isn't just to have a large advocacy program, but an exclusive one focused on high-impact champions. We're targeting CIOs, CTOs, digital transformation leaders, and others truly driving change within their organizations through our low-code platform.  

This approach is already paying off through incredible acts of advocacy:

  • 50+ research interviews with advocates to gather insights for R&D.
  • 20+ sales references delivered, including for net new customers.
  • 8 advocates presenting at external events on our behalf.
  • Many more involved in branding refreshes, messaging workshops, and beta programs.

What started as 31 passionate voices has exploded into a powerful engine for customer-driven innovation.