Customer Reference Friendlies, Allies & Champions

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In my previous article in this series on customer references in technology marketing, I provided a few best practices for getting to know your customer champion and answering their upfront questions so they’re suitably prepared for marketing activities.  Internal customer champions who are not especially ambitious or outgoing could be hesitant to speak in a public forum. The fear of saying the wrong thing, being misquoted, or treading on the toes of their own corporate marketing departments can deter people from participating in brand advocacy.

In this post, I’ll examine the various stages of customer advocacy that can help you determine the activity that is the best fit for that particular customer champion.

Finding The Right Fit

Understanding your customer champion’s preferences, constraints and interests is the most critical element in developing a customer champion as an asset for your company. Most companies underutilize customers – as the opportunities may not be as obvious. The graphic below defines a wide range of possibilities in which your customer can begin to participate in your marketing and sales initiatives.

At 10Fold, we look at customer advocacy in three key stages.

Advocacy_LogoThe first stage, which we call “Friendlies,” encompasses customer participation that can typically take place without formal approvals. However, it is important to note that a non-company-specific thought leadership quote attributed to an individual at a specific company may require approvals, depending on the title of the individual.

The second stage, “Allies,” offers your customers safe ways to participate in programs where they can review what will be published, or in other ways have control of the situation. All of the opportunities listed are pre-written/created and approved by the customer prior to being submitted or published.

The third stage, “Champions,” refers to the group of customers with whom you have developed strong trust, has experience with your solution, and is very competent in expressing the value of your product and company in a wide range of fora, including “live” situations such as media interviews and customer events.

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