Hi, I’m Gal Biran. I’m the CEO and co-founder of Crowdvocate, a holistic platform for both product and customer marketers. Today I’m going to share the insights and best practices I’ve learned from some of the best customer marketing and advocacy teams in the world.

We’ll cover what I have learned about…

  • Getting started with customer marketing
  • Strategy planning
  • Creating a culture of advocacy
  • Running a successful reference program
  • Getting maximum value from B2B reviews
  • Building successful B2B communities

Let's dive in.

Getting started with customer marketing

Before I pass on the wisdom I’ve gathered from the customer marketing pros I’ve partnered with, let’s look at a few fundamentals you need to consider before launching a new customer marketing program.

First, before you start building your customer marketing program or investing in technology to support it, you need to define your strategy and KPIs. What are your first-year goals? How can you contribute to achieving the company’s KPIs and align your program around the numbers?

It’s essential to collaborate with departments like sales, marketing, customer success, and product, and within each of those departments, you want to identify a champion. This is going to make it much easier for you to get executive buy-in.

It’s also vital to talk to your customers and see what they want out of your program and how they're willing to contribute to your efforts, then bring that voice to other departments so they understand your program’s value.

And, of course, you want to constantly measure and share what customers have done and how that impacted the business.

For example, if they gave you product feedback, that feedback became a feature, and that feature is now selling to the tune of $2 million, you want to be able to track that cycle. Similarly, if customers gave you feedback on something that wasn’t working, you fixed it, and your NPS score went up as a result, you want to be able to show that.

Strategy planning: Top tips from a CMO in the know

Anna Convery, the former CMO of Radware, shared this brilliant advice on getting executive buy-in for your customer marketing program:

  1. When you're approaching executives, you have to start by understanding the company’s strategic goals and how the program contributes to them, then just give your execs the headlines. Executives are short on time, so they need short messages establishing how your program will directly impact the numbers.
  2. Always have a financial slide in your deck when you're presenting the program. That way, when your execs are putting your program in the next year's budget, they’ll have a full picture of what it’s going to cost and this is what the company is going to get out of it.
  3. Show how you're going to measure the program’s impact. Execs care about the numbers. They have to show attribution and ROI, so you too have to demonstrate how you're going to quantify your attribution. This is where tools are going to come in especially handy.
  4. When you go live, track the program’s progress and achievements and communicate them within your company regularly. Don’t be afraid to blow your own horn. Blow your customers’ and collaborators’ horns too. You have to be your own marketer, not just your company’s.

Creating a culture of advocacy: Top tips from an advocacy ace

Creating a culture of advocacy will not only help you get internal buy-in; it will also empower other stakeholders to help drive your program forward. Kalina Bryant, the Head of Customer Advocacy at Asana, shared these pointers on how to make that happen:

  1. Start by mapping all your internal stakeholders; you have to be sure that you know who they are, their goals, and what your program can do for them.
  2. Once you’ve learned what their goals are, figure out how you can help them to succeed and make sure they understand that too. That's when they’ll become collaborators and customer marketing champions.
  3. Create internal playbooks that will make it easy for internal stakeholders to get involved in your programs. In your playbooks, you might want to outline how your program is being rolled out, the types of customers that should be nominated, and how to nominate them. Just like when you’re communicating externally, always keep your messages simple and actionable.

Juliana Roxa, Global Customer Marketing Director at SAP, also gave us some hot tips on creating a culture of advocacy:

  1. Identify your organization’s five main goals before starting to build your advocacy strategy. Maybe your company is looking to improve revenue or profitability. Maybe it's launching a new product and needs to build awareness around that. Tie those goals to your customers’ voices. You can contribute to a new product launch, for example, by gathering stories from early adopters who have successfully used the product.
  2. While strategizing, meet as many people as you can within the company and brainstorm how customer marketing and advocacy can tie into their programs and activities. Connect your program to their KPIs and agree on how you’ll work together and track your results. That way, they’ll be eager to collaborate.

Running a successful reference program

Now that we understand the importance of strategy, getting internal buy-in, and creating a culture of customer advocacy, let's talk about how to successfully run different types of programs, starting with reference programs.

Step one: Strategy

First of all, you want to streamline referenceability. Whether you’re dealing with customer stories, videos, speaking opportunities, or sales reference calls, start by defining the strategy for your program and your audience.

Next, you need to decide how you’re going to do member recruitment and who's going to own that process. Is it a self-serve program? For example, are we giving sales the ability to do things themselves, or does it have to be managed?

You also need to decide if your program is going to focus exclusively on content or if it will include sales references. Finally, think about how you’re going to recognize and reward customers who participate in your program.