Advocate: One that pleads the cause of another
Executives are bombarded with dozens, sometimes hundreds of emails per day. They ignore most of the marketing messages they receive, even from the mailing lists they subscribed to!
What’s more, consumers are increasingly skeptical of endorsements from industry experts and traditional media sources. They crave authenticity and truthful reviews of products and services.
That’s where advocates come in.
Prospects are far more likely to trust a product if they hear a review from someone they trust. Despite the rise of SEO, paid ads, and social media, recommendations from people in their social group or tribe still have the greatest influence on purchasing decisions.
In a world saturated with marketing messages, advocates help cut through the noise and grab people’s attention.
To better understand the emerging world of advocate marketing, I sat down with Mark Organ, the CEO and founder of Influitive to discuss the current trends in advocate marketing and what to expect in the coming years.
Why should B2B companies looking to develop an advocate marketing program?
MO: Ask your customers why they purchased your product/ service and a good chunk of them will say it was because of advocates or other forms of social proof. Advocates help to reduce fear when making purchases and are often the best sources for referrals.
Advocates are also very helpful after a sales as they help to reduce churn. For example, if someone has not had the results they desired with your product, let them talk to 3 people who have used the product and are knocking it out of the park. That’s a more effective way to demonstrate how to use your product.
Will advocate marketing become a distinct role in B2B marketing teams?
MO: Yes, advocate marketing requires many new skills to learn in order to acquire and retain valuable advocates.
You need to learn how to identify up-and-coming influential advocates before they become too popular (and too expensive) to reach. For example, the goal is not to get Tim Ferriss to endorse your product, the goal is to identify the next Tim Ferriss and partner with him.
Also, you might be able to find a great advocate or two, but how to scale your program to 100’s or 1000’s of advocates.
What is the Relationship between Public Relations and influencer marketing?
MO: PR is a subset of advocate marketing. That is, PR is used only to amplify the voices of genuine advocates.
Most PR involves mainly traditional media which is really struggling. People are bombarded by too many marketing messages, and don’t trust experts who might have a financial stake in promoting a certain brand. Expect there to t be less reliance on PR in the future.
What type of advocate marketing is the most effective: employee, customer, subject matter expert?
MO: Other customers are still the most effective form of advocate marketing. Employees are biased, and subject matter experts can be bought. They are far more likely to trust other customers who have used your product.
The important thing is to find customer advocates who fit the right demographic. For example a single man buying a car would be more influenced by the review of another single man than a housewife with 4 kids.
Are advocates being tracked on the number of conversions they bring in?
MO: Yes, attribution is key. When sales are made, survey’s are sent out to measure who influenced the purchase. Infuitive’s software makes it much simpler to track which advocates played a role in driving a sale.
For more information on how to leverage advocate marketing check out our previous article on how to get your customers to sell for you. Or check out Influitive’s resources for more examples of advocate marketing programs.