Last month I had the pleasure of attending Influitive’s Advocamp conference in San Francisco. If you’re wondering what advocate marketing is, don’t worry, I was, too. The three-day event focused on just that — explaining the purpose and showcasing the value of advocate marketing. Training sessions were offered to those of us new to advocate marketing, and there were a number of keynote speeches from experienced advocate marketers sharing their own insights and lessons learned.
Between the training workshops, AMP Talks, and campfire chats, I was able to absorb a ton of information, and at the end of Advocamp, each of us walked away excited to empower our customers to become advocates.
After having some time to digest it all, I’ve realized that much of what I learned is also relevant for MSPs. To help you understand advocate marketing, I wanted to share some key takeaways from Advocamp and how it can help you grow your relationships with customers and win new business.
The value of advocate marketing for MSPs
So what is advocate marketing all about? In the Advocate Marketing Fundamentals certification course I attended, my instructor Liz Richardson from Influitive started off by defining advocate marketing as a discipline that helps businesses capture the enthusiasm of their customers, partners, and employees and turn that into a powerful force for igniting business growth.
Advocates are satisfied customers and enthusiasts who embrace your company’s vision, explained Joseph Jaffe, one of the keynote speakers and Founder and CEO of Evol8tion, LLC. He said your company’s mission should be to activate these advocates, meaning you already have happy customers and now you need to empower them to vocalize their experience.
So, what’s in it for you? For MSPs operating in the B2B space, there are clear benefits to advocate marketing. Joseph Jaffe talked about how leveraging the power of your most vocal evangelists can increase revenue growth, brand awareness, and demand generation for your business. In fact, in my certification course I learned that 84 percent of B2B decision makers started the buying process with a referral and 8 out of 10 IT decision makers rely on word of mouth when making buying decisions. If you empower your advocates, you can generate more referral leads that have a higher likelihood of converting into customers.
Also, if you’re an MSP who offers a range of different managed services, like security, compliance, backup, and disaster recovery, then focusing on building advocate relationships with your customers can help you bring in more recurring revenue. At Advocamp they talked about exactly this, saying that the potential revenue you can earn from returning customers is often higher than winning new business. By creating trusting relationships with your customers, they’ll look to you when they need another IT service managed for their business.
Getting started with an advocate program
Now that you see why it’s important to practice advocate marketing, you’ll need to take the first steps to identify and nurture advocates. So, how do you do that? Think of building advocate relationships similarly to how you would build strong personal relationships, says Liz Richardson of Influitive. She suggests doing this by thoughtfully listening to customers, engaging with them and being helpful, providing memorable experiences, and always being appreciative and thankful. Once you’ve made a concerted effort to building these relationships, you’ll be on your way to creating an advocate community for your company.
If you’re going to create a community for your advocates, such as an online hub available only to advocates, you’ll want to get input from every functional area first. The sales team will be invested to help because it can provide them with a way to drive more revenue and shorten the sales cycle. The marketing department will be able to capture valuable testimonials and more leads to pass over to sales, and your technicians will be able to leverage the advocates for feedback on their services and products. As you’re getting started, remember this rule of thumb: you get what you give in terms of the effort you put into running an advocate program.
Key takeaways from Advocamp
Beyond learning about the basics of advocate marketing, a few pieces of advice stuck with me:
- “Employees are your most credible spokespeople, and your customers are your most influential salespeople.” – Joseph Jaffe
- “The ability to mobilize followers is what builds brands.” – Mark Organ, Founder and CEO Influitive
- “Your brand is the sum of every single one of your customer interactions.” – Bill Macaitis, CMO Slack
- “Customer Service is the new marketing.” – Jay Baer, Marketing and customer experience consultant
I hope this gives you a better understanding of advocate marketing and inspires you to implement its practices in your MSP business. It’s time to empower those advocates!