Reference Point:
January 2015                                                                     Gray

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In last month's issue, I listed 5 powerful social motivators--based on deep seated social and affiliation motivators widely shared by people--and that smart companies are using to motivate customer advocacy (please click here). In this issue, we look at several powerful personal motivators widely shared by us humans, that can likewise be used to motivate powerful advocacy. And do so far more effectively than incentives or rewards.

People are strongly motivated by furthering a larger purpose that helps others and themselves---this is backed up by substantial research. Think Apple, which places more emphasis on its purpose of "making a dent in the universe," than it does on profits--which powerfully attracts customers and employees. You can tap into this by focusing on how your customer advocates (with the help of your products and services) are helping to improve their businesses, their professions and their lives.

Apptio, for example, powerfully leverages this human need with its variation on the usual customer community. Called the Technology Business Management (TBM) Council, it focuses on a compelling purpose for the profession of its IT customers: "managing IT like a business." This isn't just rhetoric. The Council is non-profit, separate from Apptio, and is led by IT leaders in the profession who are passionate about this purpose. Apptio acts as an advisor to the Council, a partnership which gives Apptio customers exclusive--and highly sought--networking opportunities not found anywhere else in the industry. And it gives them a rapidly growing audience of their peers to whom Apptio customer advocates can tell their stories in their own way, and contribute to a broader cause they believe in. In six years, the Council grew from a few passionate visionaries to more than 1,100 members. Its first conference drew 400 CXOs and senior IT leaders.

Human beings--especially those living in Western societies--naturally want to have a say on the things that affect them, whether employees regarding their work environment, citizens regarding their communities... or customers regarding the products and services you sell them.

I've seen senior executive customers who are starting to balk at reference requests, quickly turned around by inviting them to join the firms' Customer Advisory Boards. But make sure it's not about pitching new product releases or your product road map. Make sure it's about giving her and other CAB members genuine input into your products and roadmaps, along with access to senior management, and an opportunity to work with other CAB members they find interesting. For mid-level customers, adapt that approach by inviting them into your User Group, with a similar opportunity to have a say, along with appropriate access to our product developers and the peers they're interested in affilating with.

Enjoyment of the activity itself:
People (and animals!) amuse themselves in all kinds of ways, simply out of love of the activity itself. I find that advocacy programs struggling with "reference burnout" or with just finding people willing to reference, often overlook the plethora of enjoyable advocacy activities they can offer. Some customers, for example, are natural performers and like the spotlight. So give it to them!... with opportunities to present at conferences, sit on panels, talk to the media, give a webinar, etc. And stop with asking these "expressives" to sit through a long, boring inte for a case study

Other customers, put off by doing videos, might by highly interested in attending live events--especially with their peers. So put together such events for them to interact with other customers and with prospects. Large numbers of people enjoy problem solving--look at the fascination people have with puzzles and games. Such customers might be interested in figuring out how your solutions are improving their business--or could improve their business--in ways not yet uncovered.

If humans really enjoy an activity, they might be interested in dedicating themselves to mastering it. These are the customers with whom you can form long, mutually fruitful relationships. Organize such customers into councils such as Apptio's TBM Council (or Microsoft's similarly conceived Interoperability Executive Council), that are focused on pursing an inspiring purpose in their profession, while helping members gain mastery in the new skills required in their work. These are highly motivating to customer advocates seeking mastery in an area related to your products or services.

Stop Pleading, Start Motivating
Your company's products and services, and the overall customer experience you create around those, are just the start of the immense, and motivational, value that your firm can provide customer advocates. These include putting them in the spotlight, expanding their affilation networks, helping them learn and grow, pursue a higher purpose, giving them a say along with access to key people at your firm, and more ... these tap into deep human motivators.

You're the one best situated in your firm to provide these. So stop struggling with reference burnout or accepting the difficulty of getting customers to advocate for you. And start using time-honored, well-researched motivators that we as humans--including your customers--are born with. And create a dynamic, highly motivated community of advocates.

All the best,
Center for Customer Engagement | 469.726.2651 | bill@customerreferenceforum.com | http://www.centerforcustomerengagement.com/
3225 Turtle Creek Blvd
Suite 1801
Dallas, TX 75219
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Center for Customer Engagement | 3225 Turtle Creek Blvd | Suite 1801 | Dallas | TX | 75219