Capturing the Voice of the Customer at Events

Our team recently spent a week in Washington D.C. to support all the advocacy activities for one of our clients at their annual industry conference. The event is highly attended by our client’s most enthusiastic supporters, so our team is onsite every year to capture customers’ excitement and passion through interviews and video testimonials and leverage the occasion as an opportunity to recognize the involvement of current advocates and recruit new members to the advocacy program.

In the months leading up to the conference, our advocacy team is always diligently at work identifying customer advocates attending the event and working with account owners to determine the best customer stories to feature in case studies and videos. By the time the conference begins, our materials creation team has a full schedule of customer interviews to conduct.


Our film crew is expert at transforming all types of spaces into professional pop-up film studios. After years of working together to create reference material in the customer voice, the team has skillfully mastered the craft of making the proverbial “hot seat” as comfortable as can be for interviewees. They excel at helping customers thrive in front of the camera and are pros at conducting open-ended interviews that lead to passionate discussions about customers’ experience and success with our client’s solutions.

The conference brings together customers from around the globe, making the event an efficient and cost-effective opportunity to capture testimonials and promote the advocacy program. Every day of the conference, our team films several customer interviews, each of which serves as the source material for a case study and a video. Our conversations with customers also can be leveraged to craft thought-leadership blogs and to gather background information for award nominations and other engagements through the advocacy program.

Are you bringing all your biggest supporters together for a conference, user group or other customer-centric event? Let us know if your organization is interested in capturing customer testimonials during the event or in consultations on how best to leverage the engagement to promote your advocacy program!

An Expert Guide for Building a Customer Advocacy Program from Scratch


Before You Leap! What You Need to Know Before Starting a Customer Reference Program”, a recent webinar by Point of Reference, provides a detailed overview of important decisions to consider and details to strategize for when preparing to build an advocacy program from scratch. In the webinar, David Sroka, Co-Founder of Point of Reference, consults two highly experienced advocacy professionals—Alyse Chiariello and Lisa Nakano—on the best practices they’ve learned and leveraged throughout their impressive careers in customer advocacy.

Alyse Chiariello, Senior Director of Customer Marketing at NICE inContact, has more than 15 years of experience in marketing. She has built two reference programs from the ground up and currently manages NICE inContact’s 300-advocate reference program and its staff. Lisa Nakano, Service Director of Customer Engagement Strategies at SiriusDecisions, is a 20-year tech industry veteran well-versed in the customer experience discipline. In her current role researching and advising on customer engagement strategies, she has a broad perspective on trends and developments in the customer advocacy field.

Throughout the webinar, Alyse and Lisa discuss everything from how to position a program to secure executive support and organization-wide program adoption, to best practices for creating a balanced advocacy program team and building a base of customer advocates. By drawing from her research, Lisa helps illuminate what separates high-performing organizations from others while Alyse shares several actionable tips and tactics derived from her breadth and depth of expertise in the discipline.

David skillfully facilitates the discussion, leveraging his wealth of experience in every facet of customer advocacy to elicit the most salient advice from Lisa and Alyse. In just 45 minutes, countless invaluable insights are shared, like Lisa’s overview of how to use the SiriusDecisions Metrics Spectrum to identify and report on the impact and maturity of a program and Alyse’s lessons learned from launching realistic technology strategies, building credibility with stakeholders, and navigating responsibilities as a program leader.

Learn all the tips and tricks directly from the source:

What was the most useful best practice you gained from the webinar?

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


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.