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Reference Point 
June 2013                                      Gray
Hi Bill,
In this month's issue: 
  • Getting Marquee Customers to Advocate For You
  • Save the date for the 2014 Summit on Customer Engagement 


It's one of the great frustrations for a successful business -- and for its customer reference and advocacy team: you land a customer with a huge brand presence, a name everyone recognizes and respects. You're doing a great job for them. Yet due to the firm's legal or PR constraints, you can tell no one. Mum's the word.


Or is it? Here are a few ways your peers have found around this issue. (This information is excerpted from the forthcoming 2013 State of the Profession Report, which provides detailed  renditions of major presentations at the 2013 Summit on Customer Engagement. Stay tuned for its forthcoming publication).


-- Make sure you know the marquee customer's brand positioning and strategy. You'll get further by aligning any proposed advocacy or co-marketing efforts with those. -- Intel has enjoyed great success by approaching marquee customers initially, not by asking them to endorse their chips but rather, to collaborate on a cause or philanthropic affiliation important to both firms-such as education or sustainability. When "going green" was the rage a few years ago, Intel was able to collaborate with a number of marquee firms on the issue, which initiated deeper relationships and eventually led to advocacy.


-- Marquee brand executives are people too. The big advantage you can gain in trying to overcome a corporate (legal, PR) bias against advocating is the egos of your potential rock star advocates within the firm. For example, all sorts of relevant trade journals and industry associations have awards programs. So you can identify appropriate ones for your industry and begin submitting applications featuring your marquee customers-with their prior approval of course. You can also create award(s) at your company, and award the winners in front of their peers at your annual user conference. 
Save the Date! 2
2014 Summit on 
Customer Engagement
February 25-26
Redwood City, CA
Click to keep informed
Read why reference programs are becoming increasingly important. Share with your sr. leaders. 

"I want to personally thank you for the work you do. "Marketing is Dead" haa profoundly impacted how our marketing leadership views the work I do." 
Deena Zenyk, 

Marketing Manager, Customer Advocacy Programs, SMART Technologies

-- Avoid people who are used to saying no, such as legal or PR.
Cultivate "yes" people at your marquee customer's firm-starting with the buyer who said "yes" to doing business with you. After she's achieved some success with your product or service, instead of asking for a reference or testimonial, suggest collaborating on a case study that's about her success (using your product or service) rather than all about how great your firm is. Once you've made her look good to her peers and colleagues at work, she'll be open to further advocacy efforts-providing you with a powerful ally inside her firm.

 -- Pitch "private" opportunities.
You can do this with customers from firms that disallow public advocacy, by offering smaller, moderated sessions at your customer conferences with no video or other record. Or offering to bring marquee brand executives together with their peers in high-impact enrichment efforts.


-- Use LinkedIn. 
Let's say you're trying to recruit the CIO of a very large brand. You go to their LinkedIn page and notice that they're linked to executives at your company, either as friends or as business partners. Then you contact your executive to pave the way to a "warm" contact from you. Not only is warm more comfortable than cold, it's more effective as well

-- Don't forget to make sure you're going after marquee brand advocates that make sense for your market. Your marketing people may want to focus on big names like Coca Cola or Wal-Mart-but do you really need those firms to move buyers in your target market? The ones that will move those buyers may well be less high-profile (and less difficult to entice into an advocacy relationship).


All the best,
Bill Lee, President  
Customer Reference Forum  
Author of 
The Hidden Wealth of Customers (June 2012, Harvard Business Review Press)
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LinkedIn (connect with me)
LinkedIn Community (connect with other reference professionals)


Master Class Series on  Customer Reference Programs


Join us for our June 19, 1pm EDT Master Class on Integrating Customer References With Other Key Customer Programs, by Wally Thiessen, Manager, Customer Engagement Marketing, SAS Canada, and member of the Customer Reference Forum Hall of Fame. Click Master Class Series on Customer Reference Programs


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