ADVOCATES & COMMUNITIES: A MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN
Customer communities represent the future of marketing, sales and customer engagement. Especially when you integrate your community with your customer advocacy program. It's in community that your customer advocates can flourish. And your advocates can help to dramatically elevate your communities to the next level. The result can be a powerful impact on your business.
Here are a few examples:
- FireEye has turned its customer community into a profit center.
- Salesforce's rapidly expanding community accelerates its sales pipeline, improves customer retention, helps ensure the success of new product releases, and more.
- Infor's community has become a central player for ensuring customer success.
- Firms like Dell and Autodesk have used communities in crowd and collaboration efforts that have helped transform both companies.
That's why I want to invite you to our first CommuniCon October 6, 2015 in Redwood Shores, California.
Spend the day with us -- encourage your colleagues who are running your customer community and related social media programs to attend -- and learn how to make your advocacy and community programs work together to create significant impact on your business, a "marriage made in heaven."
Meanwhile, here are four ways in which community and advocacy programs can do so:
- Communities are a rich source of advocates.
When customer community members talk and exchange information, advocacy happens. One of the simplest ways to stimulate this is to announce a webinar or even live event, and ask members to submit proposals to present to their peers. Watch the hands go up when you do, and in the course of doing so, some of the proposals will have remarkable stories of customer success using your products and services--which of course, makes them valuable advocates.
- Communities can dramatically improve advocacy content creation.
As everyone knows, prospects are most interested in hearing from their peers. Responding to this by asking customers to provide a testimonial or tweet on behalf of your firm is fine. But firms like HP are taking this to the next level. HP challenged members of its community to submit ideas or processes they've used to succeed with HP's software, to be compiled in a published eBook. Challenging members of the community to contribute to such an effort with other leading members created serious excitement for this--as well as compelling IP (intellectual property) that is highly attractive to prospects.
- Communities can elevate customer recognition programs.
Customers love recognition for their success and achievements in using your products and services. But when that recognition is touted to a growing, vibrant community of their peers, enthusiasm goes off the charts. That helps to grease the wheels for you to dig deeply into your client's success, including ROI measures and other business metrics important to your customers and market. Calling in relevant media and analysts to interview and write about your customers' contributions to the profession and industry builds more excitement. All of this, of course, creates superb advocates as well as content for your marketing and sales engines.
- Advocates will draw substantially more customers into your communities.
Among your advocates will be a significant number who particularly enjoy helping out their peers, and/or being in the spotlight. Such advocates can be exceptionally useful in building communities--companies like Salesforce or Microsoft give them special designations like "MVPs" or Rock Stars. Apptio capitalizes on this dynamic through initiatives like its Hero Stories Program which basically turns customers into thought leaders among their peers, resulting in an 86% on boarding rate for advocacy invitations.
When you look at the totality of a customer community that integrates in these ways with your advocacy program, you'll have a community that is exceptionally attractive to other customers as well as not-yet-customer prospects that you're targeting. And that's the basis for building strategically significant advocacy cum community programs.
I hope you can join us at CommuniCon on October 6, 2015 in Redwood Shores.
All the best,