Nominating customers for awards - everyone wins especially when Referential writes the nomination!

One of the most gratifying activities we get involved with is creating a successful award nomination – nothing beats seeing the look on a client’s face when they learn that they just won a major award!

We collaborate with our clients to target specific industry awards for the coming year and then work with account teams to identify noteworthy candidates; either individuals, teams, or whole companies. We typically then do a short interview with the lead nominee and put together a submission for the individual award. Then it’s out of our hands!

We have a stellar track-record for nominations that get picked as winners and category finalists. We are very proud to have Deutsche Bank win a very prestigious award for an IT Risk Management project at a ceremony just held in Munich – the recipient notified us from the banquet hall floor! See their photo below. We also were delighted to hear that Johnson & Johnson received one of the top prizes at the latest Dell annual conference. However, not all our submissions are for large corporations: We championed a regional consumer services provider and were equally excited to be notified that they will be presented with the “Best in Class Contact Center” honor at a major industry event to be held in June in the US. All three happened in the last month and all were nominations written by our mangeing partner, David Feber.

Irrespective of the ultimate outcome, we repeatedly see major returns from even just submitting a client for an award – all too often people don’t get positive feedback, so being nominated is understandably viewed as being a huge deal! We’ve found that for a modest amount of work, the payback is dramatic and the sense of goodwill lasts for a long time – we highly recommend it!

Olaf receiving KC Award 2018
Olaf receiving KC Award 2018

The Power of B2B Referrals

Nearly all B2B decision makers start their journey with a referral.  By nearly all, the Edelman Trust Barometer says 84%.  That is significant.  This, and other important stats, are shared in an infographic on the Influitive blog titled, "17 B2B Referral Statistics You Should Know (But Probably Don’t)".

Influitive teamed with Heinz marketing to survey North America B2B professionals from sales pros to executives. The results tell us a lot about the impact of B2B referrals on both sales pipeline and revenue growth.

It’s clear that referrals have a higher conversion rate and close faster than deals from other sources. You can see the stats in the infographic plus access the complete report. Even though referral sales are so very valuable it’s surprising a larger percentage of companies don’t have a formal referral program. This study notes only 30% have such a program.

Does your company have a referral program? Do you leverage your advocacy program through to referrals? Share your insights below.

Worldwide Business Etiquette Insight from Referential's Lynn Watts

At Referential we work with clients from all over the world and we have staff in the US, the UK, and India. There are many similarities between the way business is conducted throughout the world, but there are also differences that need to be considered. There are differences in greeting style if meeting face to face, how to address others in correspondence, communications may require an interpreter, and varied meeting structures to name a few. Some business cultures are quite relaxed in style, while others are serious or regimented. As Advocacy Consultants we spend a lot of time corresponding with people globally, so to avoid confusion it’s important not to use slang expressions or local idioms that could be misinterpreted. We need to be mindful that in some countries people expect to be addressed formally. For example, in Germany and The Netherlands it is standard to address people using their academic title. Someone with a PhD should be addressed as Doctor and titles should be used until you are given permission to use their first name. When in doubt, erring on the side of formality is safest.

In order not to offend the people you are interacting with, it is important to consider and adapt to how business professionals operate in different parts of the world. There is no global standard of business etiquette. What might be commonplace in one culture could be unusual or even offensive in another. Where possible, do your research in advance of professional interactions with international clients. When in doubt, ask. People are very helpful and like to advise about what is and isn’t acceptable in their culture.

Derin Cag at Richtopia provides a very enlightening article and infographic to further illustrate this topic.  Share your insights into business differences around the world!

 

Secrets to more online customer reviews from Trish Bormann of Fortinet

Our client, Trish Bormann of Fortinet, was recently interviewed by Nichole Auston of ROInnovation.  Nichole was interested in learning more from Trish about how she has been successful at increasing the number of online reviews for Fortinet at Gartner Peer Insights.  You can see the video here.  Full disclosure, we did work with Trish on this project. The video interview is short and well worth your time to view. We all know that while vendors are good sources of information they aren’t seen by customers as the most trust worthy source.  For trusted insights customers are increasingly looking to their peers, friends, even family. With 90% of consumers reading online reviews you need to be there.  Your product needs customer reviews.

In addition to the great interview with Trish, the same link has an article from ROInnovation with tips for determining your needs, creating an action plan, implementing your plan, and then evaluation of your results.

Have you been successful at increasing the number of reviews at Gartner Peer Insights or any other site that is key to your customer base?  Share your tips below.

Time to refresh your program?

This blog post from Influitive has hints for spring cleaning your AdvocateHub.  All great hints and ones we do more frequently than only with a spring refresh.  If you are an active member of our hub you have probably noticed that we update regularly.  Each quarter we change the theme of our Hub. We brainstorm potential new ‘locations’ and have a Hub challenge where participants can vote for our next destination.  And then the refresh begins. Our Hub manager, a position which rotates so we all have expertise with AdvocateHubs, chooses a specific day for the change.

Over a pizza lunch we make quick work of a full refresh.  All challenges are reviewed to ensure they are still relevant and we check for broken links. Photos that accompany each challenge are reviewed and the majority are changed to align with our new theme.  Our latest change was In January when we moved from Germany to the Olympics and Korea.  The changes to challenges and the visual theme are the most visible though behind the scenes we’re also looking at advocate groups, rewards, and our metrics.

While the Inflitive article is specific to AdvocateHub refreshes, it really applies to all types of advocate programs.  How do you keep your program fresh and relevant?

Nothing like a little competition!

smiley-stickers.jpg

Sometimes a little friendly competition helps bring some new energy to a task you may have done before. Who says sticker charts are just for kids!For many of our clients we have a focus on recruiting new advocates into their program. Ensuring a robust program membership is the key to finding the right customer for upcoming opportunities. We’ve decided to inject a little competition into the recruiting process for one of our clients.

Sparkly smiley face stickers are climbing up a chart.  Three of our team members are in a bit of a race to see who will recruit more advocates this month. It’s fun and it makes the progress visible to everyone. And the person who recruits the most wins bragging rights though when we have other competitions sometimes they have prizes!

How do you put a little fun into your work?

Great article, full of interviewing tips

We are interviewing our clients and their customers all the time.  Each discussion about how our role with the client might expand is really an interview.  Each call with a potential advocacy program member is an interview.  Lots of them, every day. This article from the Content Marketing Institute, written by Clare McDermott, “Perfecting The Art of the One-on-One Interview”, is full of useful ideas and links to even more ideas. McDermott divides the article into sections: how to prepare for the interview, how to begin the interview, and how to hit your stride.  Each section has great information. Depending on your level of interview experience this may serve as a refresher or be full of new information. We’re sure that even the expert interviewers among you will learn something new.  Reading this article is well worth your time. 

Let us know what you learned or how the article reinforced something you’ve always thought important. Leave a comment, below.

Personas - mistakes to avoid

Do you use personas to help shape your content and programs?  This article by Jessica Vionas on the Business2Community site points out some traps to avoid as you are developing buyer personas. Mistake number one is making assumptions.  Many of us have been guilty of that, especially if you do not have funds for research.  Ideally you would be able to interview a subset of your customers rather than rely solely on market research.  Just don't skip research! Use that knowledge to create fact based, not assumption based, personas. Once you begin to develop your personas the article suggests not slicing and dicing too finely.  How many personas do you really need?  What differentiates one persona from another?  Roles are often used but is it really the role the person is in or is it the challenges they face which are the key differentiators of your various personas?

We hope the last mistake covered in the article is not true for you – creating personas and then not using them!  As the articles says, that is “just silly”.  I suspect some might have even stronger language for that situation!

Do you have fact based personas that you use as you develop content and programs?  Share your experiences in how they have helped you be successful. 

Congratulations to our Award Winning Client!

lisa.jpg

Congratulations to our client Lisa Matzdorff, director of customer experience at Symantec.  She was just named the winner of the Sherpa Award for Innovative Feature Use at the Elevate Customer Summit hosted by RO Innovation.

Lisa uses ReferenceView, an application from RO Innovation, to track recruitment and reference activities. She needed a granular method for tracking and reporting each stage of recruitment to support the volume and multi-step process in place at Symantec. Lisa turned to ReferenceView’s workflow functionality to keep recruitment of new advocates moving at an optimal pace. Notes are captured within each step so that a permanent record remains available.

This approach ensures the recruitment process is as efficient as possible, with a clear view of metrics. The process has enabled Lisa to consistently exceed the security industry’s standard advocate recruitment rate!  Congratulations Lisa on both your award and your great results!

Signature of Approval!

freud.png

 (We just returned from the Cyber Defense Summit 2017 in Las Vegas.  Leading up to the Summit we worked with customers to create videos and quotes that were used throughout the event.  Our trip to Australia to film customers resulted in such great content we expedited processes and went from filming in one country to showing our videos on the main stage of the event 12 days later! 

Love this photo, Freud Alexandre, the Enterprise Architect and Security Manager for the City of New Orleans (and one of our favorite people!), was so happy to be featured he autographed his banner.  That is the signature of approval! What we like to see with all our customer deliverables.

Longer attention span: your target audience or a goldfish?

Longer attention span: your target audience or a goldfish? Hard to believe but the average person’s attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish! An article in Time Health quotes a Microsoft study which shows a human will pay attention for 8 seconds and a goldfish for 9! Our digital lifestyle may make us better multitaskers but we’re also easily distracted. There is a lot of content out there, coupled with short attention spans, it’s not easy to stand out from the crowd.

This  post from RO Innovation makes the case that video can be the way to go instead of the case study format. Our brains actually process video faster than text.

Think about how video might work for you as you share stories of your customers and your brand. Our clients have a clear need for written content but we’re seeing an increase in the desire for video. Often times our interviews will become both short and compelling video pieces and a complimentary case study with greater detail. We’re about to send a team to Australia for a second time this year to create video and written case studies for our clients. There are a lot of interesting customer stories among Australian businesses! Whether your customer is in Australia or right next door, think about the format which will tell their story best.

IDC Research: The Role of Marketing in Customer Advocacy

Our partner, Influitive, has a variety of great resources for those in the customer advocacy field.  One is recent research from IDC, The Role of Marketing in Customer Advocacy which you can download here.   The world has changed, how buying decisions are made has changed, and customer advocacy is more crucial than ever for continued business success. The report has interesting commentary and charts about how advocate marketing staff splits their time among their many responsibilities and which advocate marketing tactics are most common.  There is also discussion of common barriers and suggestions for key success metrics.  The research concludes with recommendations for success. 

This is worth a read.  Let us know if the content resonates with you.  Is this is what you are seeing in your industry, with your clients?  Interested in your thoughts!

We work with the best!

There is a great article from Forbes about the world’s most influential CMOs.  They name the top 50.  Forbes teamed with Sprinklr and LinkedIn to compile the list.  Their criteria included impact on brand performance, impact on brand awareness, external and internal influence, and influence on peers. An impressive list of CMOs indeed! Worth a read for more information about their shared characteristics. We are proud to say our clients are well represented on the list.  4 of the top 13 are clients, showing their appreciation of and concern for the influence their customers can have.  Congratulations to all of course and extra congratulations to our clients!

Good Things Come in Threes - Three Interns!

Good things do come in threes and in our case it means three interns this summer.  We have an intern working on a variety of Referential projects. The other two interns are with us courtesy of one of our clients that wanted increased resources for their projects this summer.  Each Monday for the last 3 weeks one has started.  They are students at St Mary’s, UC Berkeley, and Cal State East Bay, with a variety of majors.  We’ve paired them with “buddies” to help train and mentor them.  It’s great to add to the pool of advocacy experts.  And in case you are wondering about the phrase ‘good things come in threes’, read this blog post from Historically Speaking.  The examples range from the three little pigs, genies always granting three wishes, to a saying from Confucius.   

And from StackExchange:  Good Things Come In Threes - has a definite positive connotation. From fairytales to Hollywood blockbusters, “the rule of three” (Latin-"omne trium perfectum") principle suggests things that come in threes are inherently more humorous, satisfying and effective than any other number of things. 

We certainly believe that good things do come in threes!

 

 

Video in Australia

pexels-photo-68704We have two team members headed to Australia for video shoots.  They should be there now but their flight got cancelled last night so they have a ‘fun’ day working from LA.  Fingers crossed that they jet off tonight.  It would be nice to have a day to adjust rather than having to run from a 17 hour flight straight to the customer site!    We’re seeing more and more use of video with customer advocacy, and for good reason.  This article from Insivia has some very interesting statistics, 27 Stats About Video in 2017.  Bottom line, people are viewing a lot of video, more every day.  Executives are viewing and sharing video, 4X as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, and marketers who use video grow revenue faster than those who don’t. The stats in the article have links to the source so you can learn more.  The article has a lot of information which helps reinforce the importance of video.   

If you are using video great.  If not, give it a serious thought and give us a call so we can show you how effective video can be in your advocacy work and help you join the majority of marketers using video.

Advocacy - there's a science to it

What motivates someone to share their opinion?  How can you influence them to try to persuade others? A recent article  from Stanford Graduate School of Business titled “Where Do Advocates Come From?” cites a range of research into advocacy. Professor S. Christian Wheeler and PhD graduate Omair Akhatar coauthored a study which found that you can persuade people with fixed attitudes to advocate by positioning it as an opportunity to stand up for their views, rather than as one to engage in dialogue. And for people that believe attitudes can change, the opposite is true.

Another cited study showed that those who are uncertain are more likely advocates than those who are moderately certain!  Titled “the Curvilinear Relationship Between Attitude Certainly and Attitudinal Advocacy by Lauren Cheatham and Zakary Tormala confirms what we often see, those that are very certain on a topic are more likely to be advocates than others. Their surprising study shows advocacy has a J curve, peaking with those highly certain, lowest for those of moderate certainty, and rising again for those with low certainty. They found people with low certainty do share their views, they often want to gather further information, and are open for discussion. Someone highly certain can come across as judgmental, not so those in the low certainty category.

Interesting thoughts. We need to take time to frame our discussions and messages appropriately and not overlook those advocates that still have questions. Science can help us be more effective. What do you think of these conclusions?

Congratulations to RO Innovation!

We work closely with RO Innovation and their solution is used by several of our clients.  Congratulations are in order as they were recently named the top Advocacy and Social Selling tool for 2016 by Smart Selling Tools.  It’s the third year in a row they’ve been chosen as a top marketing tool.  See more here Smart Selling Tools is an analyst firm specializing in sales productivity and sales performance improvement.  The companies they chose for the 2016 awards all have innovative products which produce measurable outcomes.

Congratulations again to RO Innovation!

Follow us on Twitter!

Follow us on Twitter: @Referentialinc.  We've only recently started tweeting and would love to see your tweets as well.   Our Twitter account focuses on customer advocacy: hints, tips, issues, relevant statistics and more.   We will be sharing our own new content but also content from others that we think is particularly strong. The blog will continue as it gives us the opportunity to share more in depth information.  Watch this space for updates on our team comings and goings too.

Tweet with us, read the blog, and stay informed about customer advocacy!

Create Win-Wins with Your Customer Advocacy Program

We all know that a huge part of the sales cycle can happen well before a prospect even contacts you.  Our potential customers often look to their peers, friends, and those that are respected in their field for input and advice.  This is where a strong community of advocates comes in.  Your advocates are a very important part of your story, of your sales cycle. In working with our clients and their advocacy programs we are always looking to create win-win situations.  We advise against asking advocates to do favors.  We caution our clients not to incent advocates with discounts. Instead, we encourage framing the discussion as one of presenting advocates with opportunities to network, to speak with analysts, to show thought leadership, or to influence product direction.   Rather than ask them to do a case study about your products, offer to showcase their success and leadership.  Advocacy activities can offer wonderful opportunities for increased company and personal awareness or for professional development.   Create situations where both you and your advocates win!

Congratulations on their promotions!

Big congratulations to two team members who were both recently promoted. Alexander was promoted a short time ago and Miguel just today. In both cases we had a team lunch scheduled, but no details. Lots of guessing as to what would be discussed and then we were surprised with the good news.  It’s nice to hear such news for our team mates while at a celebratory lunch!  Well deserved by both. While they have donea great job across the board, some major accomplishments stand out. Alexander was the driving force for our initial Influitive project which has been hugely successful.  Miguel is working with one of our clients who is among the first to move to a new advocacy platform. Both have been at the forefront of new services and technology expertise we can now offer our clients. We are proud of their accomplishments, congratulations again!