Okay, that sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. However, all kidding aside, it’s a valid question on the minds of many marketing managers. But, before giving you an answer, let’s first add a bit more context. It’s widely known that marketing content created by loyal customers is much more influential to potential buyers than traditional or online advertising. In the past couple of years, we’ve seen websites like Yelp, Foursquare, Urbanspoon and TripAdvisor for B2C – and Linkedin, Quora, Twitter and blogs for B2B become extremely popular destinations for potential buyers in search of advice from their peers. These sites have become trusted sources of information to help customers cut through a huge amount of marketing clutter and navigate to the truth. Current research data suggests that customers today are:
- More educated about their purchases.
- More connected to other buyers who have made a similar purchase.
- More willing to share their experience when making a purchase. And more able to do so with social media.
There’s no doubt that customer-generated content can help shorten your sales cycle improve your company’s online reputation – and help reinforce your organization’s narrative (as communicated by sales and marketing people). The question is: how many of your current customers are really motivated to become an advocate of your brand/product/service? And how many brand advocates do you need to have standing by to help you achieve your sales and marketing goals? If you’re using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) customer satisfaction survey to identify your advocates, you are on the right path. However, you will need to go a bit further to accomplish your short-term and long-term objectives. You’ll need a well-designed strategy to nurture, motivate, and reward your advocates for their loyal participation. Advocate marketing isn’t a one-off campaign, it’s an on-going program – and it doesn’t happen by accident.