Our days are governed by time, and the concept of time zones around the world can be quite daunting. If each time zone were 1 hour apart, there would be 24 in the world. But several time zones have only 30 and 45 minutes offsets, making the total number worldwide much higher, so there are 37 different time zones! With the Referential team being dispersed across several continents we have to be very mindful of the time when reaching out to our own team as well as customers. But with this spread, we can be productive and assist our clients across most of the 24hrs in any given day.I’m always a little edgy when sending out a meeting invite to a customer, have I calculated the time difference correctly? I think we have all experienced that oh so embarrassing event of phoning someone at some antisocial hour only to find they are stirring from a deep sleep to answer your call…once is enough and we will do all within our power to never have to go through that again!Have you ever had to arrange a meeting where there are several attendees, all in different countries? You know how confusing it is too, trying to align a time that works for everyone, and being respectful of trying to keep things within business hours, working out what are the business hours in that particular country, as much as one can. It can be a challenge!Also, throw into the mix the switch between Summer and Winter time. Some countries make changes before others, which means connecting with the rest of the world a little daunting! Your usual weekly meetings are not at the ‘usual’ times, and you either end up dialing frantically into a call, when prompted on Skype by a kindly colleague who notices you missing, or sitting on an empty line as you realize you are the only one who is 60 minutes too early!I use this great little tool, World Time Buddy – it has certainly proven to be my ‘buddy’ on a many an occasion!In a few weeks time, the whole Referential team will be getting together for our regular 6 monthly meeting at US head office in San Jose. It’s a chance for us all to be in one place, see each other face to face (rather than on webcam), brainstorm, bond and, for once, not have to think about time zones before reaching out. Its amazing, although we are spread far and wide around the globe, we never feel like there are thousands of miles and varying numbers of minutes between us.
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?
This ZoomInfo blog post is full of tips to get the most from your webinar content. The tips apply to your customer advocacy video content as well. Do you create the video, publish the video, and then sit back? That content can do so much more in terms of raising awareness for your advocate and your program. The article is short and worth a quick read, you are likely to come away with several ideas you can put in to use immediately. Some of the ideas include:
· Create a blog post with highlights of the content, include a link for those that want to learn more
· Create an infographic of the content. If the content lends itself to that format know that an infographic is read 30X more than a text article! See this Hubspot blog post for more information about infographics
· Create short clips for social media use
We do the above for our video clients. In addition, we use the content of the video interview to create a case study or success story. That longer format allows us to tell a more complete customer story. The quotes from that document are then pulled to be used as independent assets in marketing campaigns, on the web, even all over the walls at customer events.
A single interview should result in many deliverables, of different formats, with different uses. It’s a great way to get huge value from a single interview and have your customers really shine.
Any additional ways you use customer video content? Please share.
This article from Harvard Business review by Ed O’Brien shows we use less data than we think to make decisions. Somewhat surprising in this age of easy access to information. People think they assess all available information before making a decision, but experiments show that isn’t the case. We make our minds up quickly, before we have a chance to work through all the data.
In a series of experiments, published here, O’Brien and his co-author Nadav Klein tested the hypothesis that people overestimate how much information they will assess before making up their minds.
This was confirmed in several experiments. Two examples:
- How many paintings do you need to see before determining if you like the style? Prediction 16 or 17 paintings, reality: 3 or 4 paintings.
- How many essays will a hiring manager read? Participants wrote on average 4 essays, hiring managers read on average 2.
How do you make sure you look at ‘enough’ information and not decide too quickly? The article gives a range of advice. One tip is for experiences that don’t change much over time deciding quickly is appropriate, but don’t judge an employee’s performance too soon. And keep the perspective of others in mind. Will they really focus on your full multipage resume or should you put more effort into optimizing less content?
Very interesting read. Do you consider enough information before making decisions?
We all want to ensure the products we buy are going to behave in the way that we desire or need them to. So by choosing to capture your advocates’ passion on video, enables your potential buyers to understand why the solutions are working for them and to be activated by the advocates’ excitement into purchasing.
Bring the power of video to your success stories – producing both 2-3 minute pieces and 30-60 second ‘snackable’ soundbites that can be shared on solution pages and blog posts – and have the world see just how genuine and authentic your advocates are about the value your solutions provide.
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:
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.
If your company uses Facebook as part of their marketing portfolio you should look at this post by Susan Moeller of BuzzSumo. To help us all understand how we can drive more engagement via Facebook BuzzSumo analyzed 777 MILLION posts.
As with previous years, video is the most engaging type of Facebook post. 59% more engagement than other types of posts, with 3-4 minutes being the sweet spot in terms of length.
There is information about best time of day, best day of the week, optimal length of text posts, and so much more. Some of the information may not hold true for your specific audience but will give you helpful information nonetheless.
Also of interest is the data about the Facebook pages with the most engagement for 2018. They may give you ideas to improve your page’s engagement, even if you don’t feature vides of babies, animals, or food! The author does a good job of highlighting what each page does well and how it might apply to others.
Read the post to the end for helpful tips on how you can improve your reach. Look at your own data, analyze your most successful posts and see what you can apply elsewhere. Adjust, analyze, and repeat.
While some of the information in this post is specific to BuzzSumo the majority will be helpful to anyone who uses Facebook as part of their marketing.
I know we are all guilty of wishing there were more hours in the day. Unfortunately, we need to face the reality, there is… and always will be… 24 hours in a day. The one exception is that one day of the year when the clocks turn back, but hopefully we are getting an extra hour to sleep and not an extra hour to work! In this fast paced world we live in, the ability to multi-task and prioritize is essential to our success, our productivity and especially our sanity. If we all keep a few tips in mind it can help to effectively juggle what is on our plates.
Make a plan:
- The first step to effective multitasking is having a plan or setting goals. You can’t “just wing it” and hope that your projects will be completed to the best of your abilities.
- By thinking ahead, it will help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.
Make sure to set reminders:
- If you have a data base where you can create tasks to manage your work, make sure to do so. Check your to- do list early in the day and prioritize, keeping in mind there will more than likely be a fire drill that comes up during the day. Tackle what is most important first.
- Use your outlook calendar to your advantage, it can be an easy way to track deadlines.
- Flag emails that you need to address but cannot respond to immediately or you need to investigate prior to responding. Take some time at the end of your day to review your flagged emails and respond or create a task or reminder where appropriate.
Break down and combine tasks when possible:
- We often look at our workload like an insurmountable mountain which can be intimidating. Break down those tasks into smaller manageable chunks. This will enable you to work on multiple tasks at once, and if they are smaller they will feel more manageable.
- If possible, try to concentrate on similar tasks at the same time. In order to effectively multitask, it helps if the projects you are working on are somewhat similar. This way your mind is not jumping from one thing to another, allowing you to “get in the zone”.
- You may find that by stepping away for a brief time will give you a chance to clear your head and may also give you some inspiration.
- With so much on our plates it is easy to feel guilty if we take some down time. So, take a short walk, grab a cup of coffee (away from your computer) or get some fresh air. I am pretty sure your brain will thank you!
Remember, not all tasks are equal. It is up to you to evaluate your tasks prior to beginning to determine true priorities. Keep in mind that some tasks may require your full attention, at that point you need to put your multitasking hat on the shelf for a while!
Do you use the RO Innovation platform for your customer advocacy data? If so you should consider attending the 2018 Elevate Customer Summit being held November 14-15 in San Jose, CA. All the details are here. The summit is a great chance for networking, learning best practices, product training, and insight into advocacy trends. There are some great speakers on the agenda including our very own Helen Feber.
Helen is doing a joint session with Richard Clooke of Symantec at 1:30 the first day. Their topic is "Mastering Internal Engagement for Greater Buy-In". They will talk about a key to advocacy program success, which is ensuring it is embedded throughout your organization. You want to see customer evidence as part of processes throughout Marketing, Product, and Sales organizations. In the session you will get tips on working with various groups to embed customer evidence in their processes, campaigns, product launches, and all aspects of go to market and sales plans.
Join Helen and Richard at Elevate 2018!
You may have heard that the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions a day! Of course tracking that to a credible source is difficult, if not impossible, but I think we can all agree we make many, many decisions on a daily basis. Each one is an opportunity for distraction and can impact your productivity. Benjamin Hardy, author of Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success, says you need more than willpower to stay on track. His suggestions are summarized in this post by Trello.
- Commit and then work your environment to facilitate that commitment
- Minimize the number of decisions you need to make each day
- Know your distractions and plan for them
- Enlist support.
The article is a quick read and has valuable examples and suggestions. If you’re prone to distractions take the time to read it and see what steps you can take today to improve your productivity.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Marketing requests: Check marketing calendars for visibility to upcoming events, speaker requests, analyst research needs and more.
- 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.
Why does it seem that analyst requests are getting more and more demanding? It used to be that they would ask for five references with a name/email address/phone number for a report not coming out until early next year. Lately, we have seen the requirement for references has increased significantly; not only do the analysts now want a phone interview, but they’re asking each customer to also complete an extensive survey. Your customers are busy and so are you, right? Let’s think about these three Rs to help you determine your response: What is Realistic? What is Reasonable? What is the Return?
What is realistic?
Is your product really ready to be included in this report? Can your company compete with the major players? Are you asking customers to comment on products they haven’t truly tested? If it’s a stretch, perhaps you can opt out and revisit the option next year.
What is reasonable?
Have they asked for 20 references and they need them by Friday? Don’t hesitate to ask for an extended deadline if the ask is going to cause major disruption to your team. More importantly, don’t ever jeopardize your relationship with a customer because of some external pressure. Hopefully, you already know which customers are willing and able to connect with analysts. If not, ensure you have the time needed to identify and properly vet your references.
What is the return?
What percentage of your audience is going to make their buying decision based on this report? Will it affect the company’s bottom line? Identify the most influential analyst evaluations where you expect a solid return, and focus your attention on those. If it is a lesser known analyst report among your prospective buyers, determine if it is truly worth the time and effort of your customer advocates.
In the end, remember that analysts are people too, and they have many priorities, just like you. They are helping our prospective clients make informed buying decisions. Analysts have a responsibility to dig in to find the real story and connect with real users. Sure, their demands seem a bit unrealistic at times, but if you’re prepared and selective, you’ll make the analyst “work” for you.
Like podcasts? Here's a list of 15 top business podcasts from Lean Labs. Listen while you run, while you drive, while at the grocery store, or even on your commute. The audio format gives tremendous flexibility. If you listen to podcasts today, these 15 probably include old favorites and no doubt new ones to add to your list. If you aren’t part of the 40 million that listen to podcasts weekly maybe it’s time to give it a try!
This isn’t the only list of great business podcasts. A quick google search will show you lists from other organizations or more focused sets of choices. Interested in product marketing or business development or entrepreneurship? There are podcasts for just about any other topic you can think of. If you aren’t already a fan try this easy way to fit learning, and even entertainment, into your day.
With buyers looking for input from their peers more and more often, be it in consumer or B2B situations, it’s increasingly important to ensure that you have the voice of your customers prominent in all stages of the buying cycle. Hubspot research shows that sales and marketing people are not viewed as particularly trustworthy. In fact only 3% of survey respondents trust salespeople. To put that in context politicians are at 1% and lawyers at 12%. Though 49% of us trust doctors.
With low trust for sales and marketing, buyers are turning to people they know and trust, their peers and your customers. It’s increasingly important to have the voice of your customer prominent at each stage of the buying cycle. Where to start? This infographic from ROInnovation is one example of how you can map customer content to the stages of the buying cycle. While it may not be the perfect fit for your company it’s a good place to start. What customer content do you have? Is it easy to find and being used appropriately? What are you missing? Anything you would add to the infographic? Give us your thoughts below.
"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.
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!
This blog post is one of about 2.5 million that will be published today. A number that is growing. So how do you find quality content? Specific to content marketing blogs this article from SnapApp offers a good starting point. They scoured the web, reviewing blogs based on quality, frequency, and reader engagement and came up with a list of 109.
Now 109 is still a lot but they have divided them into 14 categories – social media, account based marketing, and marketing technology , to name just a few. In addition, there is a short description of each and a link to a recommended post. With this list you are bound to find helpful sources of information.
How many will you start to follow? Which are already on your favorites list?
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.
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.
The Forbes Communication Council recently shared their ideas for documenting communication processes. Those processes are often fundamental to business success and once in place will allow you to act quickly and even scale smoothly. They share an eye-opening stat that communication breakdowns can cost businesses as much as $37 billion a year! The 14 council members each share a tip. Whether it’s ‘Start with the Basics’, ‘Create a Handbook’, or ‘Know Who to Ask and When’ the ideas are sound and with information on how it’s helped council members or how they implemented the idea internally. Council members span universities to high tech companies like Cisco and Microsoft. Obviously successful organizations we can all learn from! It’s a quick article that is sure to give you ideas to improve your documentation as well as your communication processes.