page title icon Customer Advocates: Why marketers should be customer advocates and how to do it

Whoever understands the customer best wins!

Your marketing strategists should aim to form integrated marketing strategies that follow the buyer’s journey and their digital elements to all of it.

Your overall goal as a marketer should be to become a customer advocate. Online businesses get 60% of their sales thanks to referrals from advocates and brand Superfans.

On the other hand LinkedIn messaging has become a part of the digital strategy that is extremely important for many B2B marketers.

In my B2B Digital Marketer Podcast interview with Mike Gospe we discussed Why Marketers Should Be Customer Advocates.

The cycle of understanding customers
5 Stages of Understanding the Customer

I have learned that marketing strategies are designed to fill market needs and reach marketing objectives from my experience. A marketing strategy can allow an organization to concentrate its resources on the optimal opportunity, increase sales, and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

How COVID-19 Brought A Huge Spotlight On Digital Marketing

The COVID-19 and the lockdown brought a huge spotlight and forced transformation on marketing and digital marketing elements.

I received a lot of deaf email marketing during the beginning of the lockdown, most of them being out of context and out of touch. Confession: I made a few mistakes too.

It’s not that we marketers were doing anything bad, but messages oftentimes are created with an internal perspective because we have goals to reach.

According to Not Another State of Marketing, 2020, 35% of marketers send their customers 3-5 emails per week.

Email marketing 2021

As part of your marketing strategy, you need to think clearly about the buyer’s journey, the right touchpoints, how to digitize those appropriately, and how it all connects.

Personally, as a small business owner, I am embracing new technologies that are not the traditional B2B marketing technologies. I do not use many of the mainstream B2B marketing products. This is what everyone else does.

My message to digital marketers is that you need to be different. It would be best if you were able to have the tools to help you be more attuned to your customer in being different.

Having A REAL Digital Marketing Strategy

Acronym for REAL

You should have a marketing program that’s REAL. Your strategy must be relevant and timely for the people.  

Your strategy has to take into consideration where your customers are in their journey and the number of decision influencers on their side. How many people are part of their buying decision for your solution? You must connect with them all.

All of those buyers have unique situations, pressures, and constraints. Learn to be more aware.

Also, it needs to be authentic where you say what you mean, and you mean what you say. Test your congruency, it’s often where your authenticity gets lost.

How are you being perceived as legitimate? Do you have proof? Can you support your claims?

Things have changed from a strategy perspective, and you must go back and audit your digital and automation elements. What is now invisible to you could ruin your reputation.

We all need to do a better job when we start thinking about our asset inventory. Make certain it’s REAL.

True Account Based Marketing

Account-based marketing has been around for 20 years. There are people out there who will say it’s a brand new thing, but it’s not. Believe me, I’ve been around that long.

When I first started AMB, it was all on paper. I had an Account Entrance Strategy that targets key personnel in a very systemized manner. There were multiple types of messages. Some may say it was a sales tactic, but it really was a blended approached that work wonders.  

But the “NEW” ABM is not supposed to be the target marketing I described. In target account marketing, you build your list, and you go targeting the accounts.

Some say that account-based marketing understands the real issues that the people you want to sell to are going through and being empathetic, and then matching your messaging and digital elements to them.  It takes a serious thought process.

I did the same thing, it just wasn’t digital. So, now I am upgraded, I do ABM.

Account based Marketing strategy
Account Based Marketing Strategy

Aligning Sales And Marketing Objectives

Many of my clients have a significant barrier in the contact center and customer experience space, the relevance component. Many companies trying to sell solutions don’t have industry context because they never worked in a contact center.

Customers can recognize that.

So relevance for them becomes a trust issue. When that happens, you end up having a marketing message and then a sales activity with a huge break and disconnect.  

Customer relevance needs to be the glue that binds sales and marketing. You have to be certain that you’re aligned and in sync with the story, customers need to hear.

Marketing and sales alignment leads to 36% higher customer retention (source).

According to Marketo, organizations with robust alignment can grow by 20% annually.

Statistics about organizational alignment

Alignment Case Study: Covid-19

The hard message that has been delivered to companies is that unless you’re Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and a small handful of other companies, you’re not going to make your quarterly numbers or year numbers. Much revenue has been lost in the pandemic.

According to a LinkedIn survey, 70% of the research respondents said sales and marketing collaboration deliver a better buying experience.

The problem is that it’s easier said then done.

Sales and Marketing Collaboration Statistics

Instead of panicking, there is a need to shift your marketing programs to be of service to customers and actually help them make the best of the investments that they have already made with your company.

You can become customer advocates in marketing and sales by aligning your messages and your value.

Pivoting Your Marketing Program To Help Customers And Becoming Customer Advocates

It has a huge impact on how you treat marketing, the alignment with sales and marketing will ultimately strengthen the relationships you have with the customers.

I think of 2008, when there were a great recession and businesses were shutting down, there was stagnation in programs. Companies that kept a little bit of a lifeline on understanding the customer journey and listening and helping learned about their customers.

That impacted their marketing programs, and they grew faster when times got better. I take it that we are dealing with a similar kind of opportunity during this pandemic.

Joe Tripodi once said, “Awareness is fine, but Advocacy will take your business to the next level.”

Quote about customer advocates

Putting The Spotlight On Customers And Becoming Customer Advocates

There is a possibility that the only customers you win this year are customers you already have.

Everybody knows the saying is true. It’s a lot easier to keep a current customer than to get new ones.

Simon Sinek says a lot that I find useful, ‘take time to reflect on what you do and why you do it.’

With all that’s going on in the world, it is a perfect time to reflect on what you do individually and as a company and why you do it.

There is a need to create a bond with your customers to solve their problems and deliver more value. The opportunity for leadership and marketing development is coming out of this pandemic.

AMX Logistics’ revenue skyrocketed from $200,000 to $25 million in four years by aligning their sales and marketing teams. (source)

Statistics on marketing alignment

Why The Shiny Object Syndrome Is Overrated

What is overrated is whatever is hot at the moment. Everybody’s moving to Instagram. It’s like the hot thing of the day, just like Facebook was. Jump on Clubhouse, or not.

Digital marketers need to be aware of the landscape but must not lose sight of their strategy. And your strategy needs to be flexible to adapt based on your Digital Activity ROI.

Pay attention to the larger landscape, but every marketer needs to have one eye on the larger marketing strategy. Learn how to be more resilient and be galvanized in volatile times.

The Importance Of Culture And Systems In Your Digital Marketing Strategy 

There are two things that you need to have that are vitally important, culture and then systems.  Strategy falls into both camps.  

It would help if you had the proper culture strategy, and then proper systems.

The McKinsey 7S model is a useful framework for reviewing your organization’s marketing capabilities from different viewpoints to establish viable systems for your marketing efforts.

These systems focus on how things operate systematically. Playbook covers both systems and culture.  

Developing different playbooks for different elements is amazing because everyone on your team can look at these and immediately know what role they needed to play. You can even use it if you are solo to help you stay aligned.

Many companies don’t have a strategy, use this to your advantage.

McKinsey 7S model

Training Marketers To Be Leaders In The Company

There is a need to invest in being a better leader. Mike Gospe’s book titled Marketing Campaign Development: What Marketing Executives Need to Know About Architecting Global Integrated Marketing Campaigns gives insights on how you can tackle marketing campaigns with a leader’s mind.

One of the best things a marketing leader can do is hire smart people (smarter than you) and helping them to thrive.

Because things are changing so fast, set aside funds for them (and yourself) to attend a course, get some additional learning to become even better.

There’s also the longer-term side to investing in understanding your products, how the products fit into the market landscape, how to be a good customer, how to be a good corporate leader, and skilled in communications.

Marketing should know what sales are doing, engineering customer service support, and know what marketing is doing.

Becoming Customer Advocates By Investing In A Customer Advisory Board Program

Double down on making sure you understand the company’s value proposition and where the growth opportunities are, and where we can provide the most value.  

Customer Advisory Board best practices

Being a customer advocate means that you’re the resources that actually know the trends and drivers driving your customer’s business better than anybody else.

A customer advocate knows the right questions to ask and the way to bring those insights into the business.

So one of the things to invest in is having a customer advisory board program to gather your customers to understand how they’re thinking about how their business is evolving, how their buying process is likely to evolve, and what kind of solutions they need to solve their problems.

All of that then impacts what our marketing engine needs to look like.

The worst thing to do is to jump to a tactic without customer confirmation and understanding.

The voice of the customer model is a pyramid model, and there are three levels of customer engagement. At the top of the pyramid is where the customer advisory board fits.

Voice of the customer framework
Voice of The Customer Framework adapted from Mike Gospe’s article What’s your Voice-of-the-Customer framework look like? (Do you have one?)

Determining Where You Are Failing In Your Marketing Efforts As Customer Advocates

All you have to do is take your marketing tactic and find out the strategy behind it. Nine times out of ten, you look at that, and it becomes clear where you’re wasting money.

You don’t know who you’re talking to. You’re trying to be all things to all people. Sometimes your marketing timing is wrong. The way to determine the source of failure is through some gentle self-assessment and reflection.

The One Question Every B2b Digital Marketer Should Ask Themselves

What’s the value that I want to provide to a company? What’s the expertise that I want to invest in?

Conclusion

I strongly believe the best marketers build a relationship with sales through customer advocacy.

You can work together and deliver value for customers.

Help everyone to understand customer problems better. One of my favorite reads on this topic is the book by Nicolette Wuring titled, Customer Advocacy: When You Care, People Notice.

Watch My Interview With Mike Gospe On Why Marketers Should Be Customer Advocates

Please Comment

  • Why do you think Marketers should be customer advocates?
  • What do you think are the benefits of aligning Sales and Marketing?
  • What is the importance of systems and culture in a digital marketing strategy?

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