The Dos and Don'ts of B2B Influencer Marketing

Much of the marketing industry is confidently familiar with, if not incredibly well-versed in, influencer marketing. The home-grown celebrity touting praise for trending products is present in the social feeds of countless, and their reach and power to persuade has gone unnoticed by few.

Beyond increasing brand authenticity and building trust with consumers, influencers offer a solution to some of the most notable digital marketing challenges and opportunities today. With tweaks and adjustments to social media algorithms, brands are experiencing a noticeable dip in their organic reach across popular platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. The rising cost of digital advertising and increasing use of ad blockers also have added barriers to the communication flow between brands and their buyers. Influencers create a new path to communicate and connect with consumers despite these digital advertising challenges.

Though many have come to understand influencers through the lens of B2C marketing, in his CMO's Guide to B2B Influencer Marketing, Lee Odden suggests that the B2B marketplace has an opportunity to improve upon the strategy of engaging influencers and to reap the same benefits of their consumer-facing counterparts.

In the Guide, Odden highlights challenges B2C influencer marketing is confronting as pitfalls for B2B marketing professionals to avoid. He urges B2B marketers to stay mindful of cultivating a culture of opportunistic influencers. In the B2C space, concerns surrounding influencer legitimacy and the authenticity of their networks has diminished the perceived value of insights shared by genuine influencers.

To support a better culture in B2B influencer marketing, Odden advises against treating your influencers as a mere advertising distribution channel or approaching your relationships with influencers as transactional engagements. Influencer marketing should be a collaborative endeavor, with companies investing time and energy into helping influencers pursue their personal goals, just as influencers are helping companies achieve theirs.

Clarifying key differences between B2C and B2B influencer marketing, Odden explains that longer sales journeys, larger purchase decisions and decision-making committees that consist of more than one person change the way B2B marketers should collaboratively create content with their influencers. He emphasizes the subject matter expertise of B2B influencers as a key skill set to leverage in influencer marketing. Understanding this unique value B2B influencers bring to the table should also inform how B2B marketers strategize returning value to their influencers. An ideal way to structure relationships between B2B influencers and the brands they support is to position B2B influencer marketing as an opportunity to raise awareness among a brand's and a B2B influencer's mutual audience.

As Odden said in his Guide, “Pay an influencer and they’ll be your friend for the day. Help someone become more influential and they’ll be an advocate and friend for life.” B2B influencer marketing abounds with opportunity if you know the mistakes to avoid and best practices to abide by. Lee Odden's CMO's Guide to B2B Influencer Marketing is a great place to start learning.

What Exactly is Advocate Marketing? - Thoughts from Referential's Ryan Quackenbush

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Dudley Field Malone, someone you don’t need to know anything about, once said that one good analogy is worth three hours of discussion; I think many of us probably had a professor or two in school that could have benefited from this approach.

Along the line of analogies, if you’re like me, you’re always looking for a brief, simple way to explain otherwise complicated topics. I struggled with this in my past, working for highly complicated cloud-native software organizations, when my Grandmother would ask me what my companies did. “We work in computers, Gram,” I’d say.

The conversations would inevitably turn to a topic she was more interested about anyway: me, her loving grandson. She’d ask me something like “what exactly do you do?” My response, of course, is that I worked in advocate and customer-centric marketing. It’s at this point that I’m sure you’re picturing my loving grandmother’s eyes glazing over with confusion. You wouldn’t be wrong. If you tell someone you work in marketing, they generally understand what you do. But if you add the modifier “customer advocacy” to the term, suddenly, it’s like you’re speaking in Greek.

“What exactly is advocate marketing, Ryan?” She’d ask me.

Truth be told, it’s pretty simple.

“Think about it this, way, Gram,” I’d say. “I’ll give you a few different scenarios. Let’s say there’s a brand-new restaurant that opened up across town. You’re reading the Sunday paper, and in the middle of an article you’re reading is an ad that says ‘New Restaurant- best steaks!’ You kind of register that, you might check it out sometime.”

She nods, and I move on.

“Ok, second scenario - you’re watching the hockey game tonight,” (true fact: my gram loves watching hockey, but doesn’t care about teams), “and during a commercial break, an ad comes on for this new restaurant. They take you inside, show you food being put on tables, maybe the owner says ‘Come on down’ or something to that effect, and it’s over, and you sit through a few more minutes of ads before the game comes back on.”

Once again, she nods, patiently waiting for me to get to the point.

“Last scenario - Aunt Phil calls you, or I do, or your old co-worker Gene. Or maybe someone next to you in line sees the paper you’re reading, recognizes the steakhouse in the ad and says to you ‘Oh, I’ve been there - I really enjoyed the food they provide!’ I ask you this - which of those three scenarios is going to make you that much more interested in going to the new steakhouse?”

My grandmother responds that obviously the third, as familiarity with the product and personal experience is much more valuable than simply reading or seeing an ad.

“That, gram, is pretty much what I do!”

Advocacy is about building relationships, establishing trust, and enabling your existing customer base to get out and market – or advocate – for you, on your behalf. Most times, it’s a bit more strategic than a stranger looking over your shoulder in a checkout line.

At Referential Inc., we take our collective experience as a team to build our clients fully fledged reference and advocacy programs from the ground up. My restaurant analogy doesn’t take into account overseeing program goals, providing detailed reports and metrics or implementing launch plans, but at Referential Inc., expertise in these and other core aspects of advocacy program management drive our approach and service delivery.

At the end of my analogy, my grandmother responded by stating that it “sounds like what you do is very important to the company.”

An effective advocacy program truly is.

The Good Guys Triumph - Thoughts From Referential's David Feber

One of our primary goals as a champion of ‘all-things-advocacy’ is to make our clients, and in turn, their own clients, look like heroes. Creating award nominations – be it for a specific person, a product, or even for an entire company – is one of the most rewarding of the many advocacy-related activities Referential gets involved with. The task is all the more fulfilling when we have the opportunity of showcasing the achievements of someone that both really deserves to be recognized and who is just a great person to work with.

We had this experience with Dr. Stefan Lüders, the Chief Security Officer of CERN, the Geneva-based home of the Large Hadron Collider - the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator. Our team did an onsite video session with Stefan last year and was immediately taken with his expertise, personality and immensely pragmatic approach to securing the vast and complex CERN infrastructure. Fast-forward a few months, and we had the opportunity through one of our clients to select and nominate Stefan for the much-coveted SC Magazine “CISO of the Year” award…… and he won!

Dr. Stefan Lüders, the Chief Security Officer of CERN, accepting SC Magazine's CISO of the Year award.
Source: SC Magazine

The black-tie awards ceremony was held at a high-end London hotel, with the opening speech noting that this year’s nominations registered the highest scores ever, including many that would have won in any other year. Stefan beat out multiple high-profile CISOs from organizations such as FedEx, Legal & General and the UK's National Lottery.

The ceremony and the ensuing after-party really emphasized the magnitude of winning this highly prestigious industry title. Stefan’s reaction two days after the event? “I am still trying to recover!!!! What a thrill! I am deeply touched, grateful and honoured to be presented with this award!”

In typically modest fashion, Stefan added, “However, I do not claim this trophy for me, but for my team, my colleagues in the CERN IT department and throughout the organization, as well as all our external peers helping us to raise the security bar. In the end, ’security’ is all about team-work, no?”

In these times of somber news stories and escalating tensions around the world, it’s great to see the good guys winning! Congratulations again to Stefan!

Get Your Community Talking!

Whether your community is an AdvocateHub, based on LinkedIn, uses company forums or some other structure, you’re probably faced with challenges in starting conversations and then keeping community members involved. This blog post from Influitive has tips on conversation categories that are engaging and should incite conversation.Many communities have welcome posts that can serve an onboarding role for new participants and a central point for questions about how the community operates.Threads which allow participants to introduce themselves to others are popular. Start the thread with some simple questions to give people ideas of what to cover in their introduction. Access to information about news and events is a key benefit of community participation.  Ask questions of your members in those posts to start conversation. What are their thoughts on your new announcement?  Will they be attending the next big event that your company hosts? The blog also shows how posts about product feedback/updates, thought leadership, and best practices can help encourage participant activity. Examples of successful posts are shown with each category, examples you can leverage in your own community.Influitive recommends fun posts, posts about pets or kids or favorite vacation spots might be an easy place for your members to begin posting in your community.  With a little positive reinforcement, you may see them become active across all categories.What tips do you have for increasing conversations in your community?

Crocs and the Power of Their Gen-Z Advocates!

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An interesting post on the Glossy blog tells the story of how Crocs has leveraged user generated content from their Gen-Z fans. They have zoomed up the list of teens’ favorite brands, from 27th in 2018 to 13th last year. With well defined user segments, Crocs knew they had a young set of fans, and they were becoming an increasingly important consumer segment. Crocs wanted to increase their digital activity and relevancy and looked to user generated content from this younger segment. If you’ve thought of Crocs as footwear for gardeners, they are now seen everywhere from London Fashion Week, the pages of Vogue, to the feet of Dame Helen Mirren. Customer advocates are partially responsible for Crocs huge increase in popularity. A story worth a read, really highlights the power of customers telling a brand’s story.

Issue That May Impact The Success Of Your Advocacy Program

We all aim for advocacy program success but there are valuable learnings from the failures of others.  This blog post  from Influitive discusses the 7 most common reasons an advocacy program fails and how you can address the issue before it becomes a problem for your program. Here are the key issues they have seen:

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influitive failures

While the post is through the lens of an Advocate Hub the information is really applicable to all the various ways we structure advocacy programs.

Each of the seven areas is described, you’ll understand why they are potential problems, and then there are recommendations to fix, or even avoid, the issue. There are also links to more information. For example, one way to address the issue of a generic advocate experience is to customize.  But how?  The blog post includes links to further information about developing and using personas to target your information and asks.

One blog post won’t avoid all potential problems, but this does have good information and is worth a read.  Address these issues so they don’t become problems for your program in the future.  In the comments add any additional ideas you have for others, let's learn from each other.

Treat Advocates Like VIPs At Your Next Event

Several of our clients have their major customer meetings in the next three weeks.  We are helping with planning and will be staffing the events themselves. We also have three team members in Dubai for a week filming customer testimonials. So, as you can imagine, it’s a bit busy here! We have spent a lot of time with our clients helping them make their events very special for their advocates.  Everything from assuring pre-registration and bag drops at hotels to front row seats for the entertainment at the closing party. We’ve helped choose swag, arranged contests to recruit more advocates, created pull up banners with advocate quotes which will be autographed at the event, scheduled Customer Advisory Boards, designed customer award programs, arranged to film interviews for videos and case studies and much more. 

This blog post from Influitive is focused on ideas to make events special for advocates and begins with a very important idea, don’t just wait for your big event. Make your advocates feel special throughout the year. The post was written by Jeff Gabel of Quick Base and gives insight into how they made EMPOWER18, their annual user conference, memorable for their customers.

What has made your advocates feel special at your events?  Share your ideas below.

Target Advocate Program Increases with Gap Analysis - Tips From Referential's Lillian Kann

It’s the end of August, vacations are winding down and the kids are prepping for back to school. The calendar says it’s time to focus on the rest of the year! With the craziness of planning meals around sports and sizing up kids’ clothes and everything else they need, comes the opportunity to also review advocacy requirements and plan for success. Advocate recruitment tends to be a delicate synergy between identifying strategic customers for validation and predicting the references sales and marketing will be looking for to support sales opportunities and upcoming marketing requests. What can advocacy managers do to find the right balance?

Gap analysis of your reference database can be a key step in understanding reference coverage across your products, industries and geographic sectors.  It is also a helpful way to proactively plan for future request fulfillment. With an understanding of approved references and how this information compares to both your customer universe and request activity, you can proactively plan for recruitment and avoid the reactive chaos of high demand periods. A first step is  to create a snapshot of advocates:

  1. What references do you have today: Look at your universe of customers by product and compare this to customers successfully recruited for advocacy within that product area. This can offer visibility to necessary recruitment.
  2. How many requests do you expect: Using sales revenue goals by product and projected average deal size, calculate the number of deals required to meet goal. Adjust this number by the average number of references requested by each opportunity to better understand how many references you will need during the given period.
  3. Marketing requests: Check marketing calendars for visibility to upcoming events, speaker requests, analyst research needs and more.
  4. Where there are gaps: Comparing your anticipated deal numbers, the required references volume and your current approved references, you can identify gaps and proactively solicit customer nominations throughout your company to fill these gaps.

Once you understand the gap areas and request forecast, Sales and Customer Success may be your go-to teams for nominations and recruitment. Don’t forget about product management and product marketing teams. They can offer insight to customer lists and new product releases as well as early adopter customer lists Implementation and service delivery teams can help provide latest status on customer deployments. Sales leaders can offer insight to recent strategic wins All of these sources will help create a healthy pipeline of potential new customer advocates.

Gap analysis can offer an interesting view into overall advocacy success. If gap analysis is done effectively, this information can also offer critical insight, with metrics, into overall product success while offering insight to potential areas of concern.

We're already half way through 2018!

Hard to believe but we are half way through the year. Time for mid year check points not only with employees but also with clients. We just completed a round of client reviews.  Simple format – one slide with goals for the client and progress in the first half, plus a second slide with action plans should there be any issues and comments about what is expected in the second half. These reviews complement the monthly metrics and client checkpoints that we also do. In addition to a checkpoint of first half results, we also looked at statistics which allow us to compare client performance to industry norms.  We looked at everything from what percent of customers contacted agree to participate in advocacy programs to how long does it take to fulfill an average request for advocate participation.

It’s good to take a step back and assess.  Each team has done very well in the first half and is looking forward to an even more impactful end to the year.  The reviews are always a valuable experience. There is a chance for learnings that we can bring to all clients, valuable insight to share with our lead contacts, and there were many pats on the backs for jobs well done!  The first half has been full of amazing accomplishments and huge financial impact for our clients.  Looking forward to even greater success in the second half of 2018!

Recruiting new advocates? Learn from the best - our Andreas Silva

  "I'm going to give him an offer he can't refuse." You can channel your inner Don Corleone during recruitment calls! Now, we don’t mean THAT sort of offer, but there is a way to position advocacy activities during a recruitment call with a customer where they really can’t refuse you.

Traditionally in the advocacy world you have a laundry list of activities that you want/need customers to participate in like taking reference phone calls, participating in analyst surveys, speaking at conferences, writing case studies. The problem with that is the customer only hears what you, the vendor, is getting out of the relationship. They’ve most likely been burned so many different times by other vendors that the laundry list begins to sound as monotonous as Luca Brasi rehearsing his pledge to Don Corleone at his daughter’s wedding.

It’s easy to forget in the middle of all the craziness of trying to insert a customer voice in every situation possible that Customer Advocacy is a two-way street. The customer will gladly sing your praises from the hilltops of Sicily because you made them feel special and that they had an impact, so give them an opportunity to make that impact and to do the things they really want to do.

Andreas Silva is our recruiting expert. Instead of asking advocates “Would you be willing to take a reference call?” he asks “How would you like to connect with your peers?”

Instead of asking “Would you take an interview with an analyst?” we ask “Would you like to make an impact on your industry by giving product feedback to an analyst?”

And finally, instead of asking “Would you speak at a user conference?” try “Would you like to be seen as a thought leader amongst your peers?” or “Have you ever considered elevating your personal brand by speaking at ____ Conference?”  You can almost hear those gears turning in their heads.

See the difference? Hard to say no, isn’t it?

The key to all of this is really listening to the customer and understanding what makes them tick. These are people and at the end of the day and we all have things that get us fired up. Position the various advocacy activities in a manner such that they really see the value of being engaged and participating in all the activities you have to offer. Soon enough they’ll be jumping out of their seats when you, “The Don”, come calling.

The Piece is Done - Now What?

You have worked with your advocate and created a fantastic video or case study.  It’s on your web site, but now what!  How do you get additional visibility for this great piece that sings the praises of your products as well as showcases your customer as innovative and a thought leader? Social media is one approach. These stats from April show that Facebook has 2B, yes billion, active users each month. Instagram, number 6 on the list,  has over 800 million active users. .

Here is an article from Influitive, with ideas on how to best use a range of channels to get higher visibility for your content. You need to give thought to language, time of day for posts, audience and much more. For example, with LinkedIn Influitive encourages you to consider targeted updates on your company page, rather than aiming at your entire audience.

In addition to social media consider email. An article from eMarketer shows that email ROI is more than 4X that of other marketing formats! What about your company blog? Many of our clients do blog posts about new customer content.

Do post pieces on your website but don't stop there.  Get your company, and your advocate, additional visibility.  What approach has been most successful for you? Share your tips!

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

Are you speaking for your company or yourself?

  Working with customer advocates daily we’re often posed with a dilemma. Is the advocate speaking on behalf of their company or as themselves?  Speaking as themselves might allow them to bring a richer set of experiences, all they have learned in past jobs and through education. Yet the opportunity is being brought to them due to their employer. So which is it?

As you might expect the best answer here is ‘it depends’!  What are they being asked to do?  What knowledge allows them to be the best contributor possible? What does their employer allow?

We find that many of the advocates we work with have company policies for advocacy activities and social media involvement. Participation in an advocacy program can be the trigger to learn those policies! We have seen a wide range of policies and can work with any limitations they might set but we also see the flexibility for a wide range of involvement.

Does your company have advocacy policies? Policies for social media involvement? You might this article about corporate vs personal branding interesting. It’s from The Content Marketing Institute, written by Ann Gynn. It’s a good discussion about how advancing one’s personal brand and your corporation’s brand can go hand in hand. Worth a read.

 

Vote for 2017 Advocate Marketing Program of the Year – Deadline is Nov 24

BAMMIESThe Best Advocate Marketing Awards (BAMMIES for short) are produced by Influitive and designed to showcase the great strides that are being made by B2B marketing leaders who are working with their advocates to drive brand, demand and revenue.  The BAMMIES are awarded annually.  The 10 categories include “Building Event Buzz with an Advocate Swarm”, “The Advocate Marketing Hall of Fame”, and the big one – “The Advocate Marketing Program of the Year”.  You can vote for the winner of the latter category, which is awarded to the program you think has delivered measurable value through inspiring and flawless execution. Vote here.    

Here are the 2017 Advocate Marketing Program of the Year finalists, congratulations to all!

  • Ceridian HCM
  • Cisco
  • DocuSign
  • GoGuardian
  • InTouch Health
  • Pearson
  • PowerDMS
  • Staples 

Hurry, voting ends Friday, November 24 at 5 pm EST. Winners will be recognized at the Best Advocate Marketing Awards ceremony at Advocamp on December 6th-8th, 2017, in San Francisco.

Signature of Approval!

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 (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.

2 clients, 2 projects, 3 days, over 300 phone calls!

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phone photo

We had two projects overlap this week.  One client needed us to follow up on survey results and another asked us to invite customers to participate in an important event.  Both projects were at the stage where it was time to leave email behind and make phone calls. Between the two projects, two team members have made over 300 phone calls quickly, all in just a few days.  One person even came in at 5:30 AM so he could connect with the East coast early in their business day.  We were able to exceed goals for both projects.  We did leave a lot of voicemails but had great conversations with everyone who answered their phone.  A conversation is a great chance to meet your objective but also check in with advocates, see what other activities they might be interested in, see if anything has changed for them or their company, and answer questions. A lot of talking, but well worth the time!

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?

Dramatic - and Fast - Increase in Customer Engagement

We recently worked with a client to launch an Influitive AdvocateHub as a new front-end to their existing advocacy program. The decision to do this was made swiftly with the requirement that it went live 3 business days ahead of their inaugural user conference. Being able to unveil a hub at a major customer event is the perfect opportunity to accelerate engagement and build excitement for an advocacy program, however in this case it gave us only 14 business days to design, configure and populate it with activities/challenges! We are not ones to be overcome by what seemed impossible odds. What most hubs take 6 to 8 weeks to deploy, we accomplished in 2.5!

For those of you not familiar, an Influitive AdvocateHub enables the construction of a wider advocate community by inviting customers, partners, prospects and employees into it to complete "challenges" that span fun activities, educational opportunities and taking action such as making referrals, taking reference calls, writing product reviews and more. As advocates complete challenges, they earn points, badges and progress through levels that can be used for a variety of perks and privileges.

For our client, the hub out-stripped all expectations and success metrics that were defined in the planning stage: Nearly 60% of all attendees at the event joined and immediately started engaging in challenges. It exceeded the initial expectations for the number of participants 8 fold! Hub members completed over 1000 challenges in less than a week; nearly half became new social media followers of our client, and tweeting and forwarding of blog posts reached the highest levels our client had seen. Participants gave glowing reviews and volunteered for a variety of advocacy activities from case studies to presenting in webinars and at future events.

Referential: Influitive's First Certified Partner!

Influitive certification logoWe just got the official word that we are Influitive‘s first Certified Partner!  Just in case you haven't heard of them, the Influitive platform provides companies with the ability to create communities of advocates and really leverage all the goodwill that their advocates have generated. Getting certified required the successful completion, by more than one of the Referential team, of a series of online and classroom training sessions, field training, and passing a final oral exam to demonstrate that we have the necessary skills and knowledge to represent Influitive to customers.

Influitive was created by the founder of Eloqua (since bought by Oracle for almost $1 billion) and is attracting a lot of attention in the marketplace. We've watched the platform evolve and mature over the last three years and definitely feel that the time is right to participate in what we think will be a game changer in our industry. One of the great things for us is that the AdvocateHub, as it's known, is a logical extension of everything we've been doing over the last 20+ years in the reference/advocacy space - it just makes things so much easier!

Influitive has offices around the globe and we’re really proud to be the first Certified Partner in the world!

Customer References or Advocates? Making the Transition

Customer references vs. advocates. Quite a topic of conversation. There are all sorts of articles about the differences between advocates and references. Simplistically customer reference programs have been a critical part of the sales process. Customers are recruited, requests are fulfilled, and sales increase. Usually ­­­customer reference activities are reactive. References are asked to participate in activities such as a call with a prospect or speaking at an event. Advocates, on the other hand, are proactive in their promotion (and defense) of your brand. An advocate will proactively engage in a community or at an event, amplify your message in social media, or help with new product input. And they will also take that important call with a prospect!

Here is an interesting article on how BMC made the transition from relying on references to a strong advocacy program. A valuable read.