CREATE A MOVEMENT
Customer references, traditionally, are "one to one." They're about getting one of your customers to persuade one of your prospects to buy.
You can take it up a notch by getting particularly attractive references to create a video or success story that, hopefully, will reach and influence many buyers. This is "one to many."
How FAR can you take this? How powerful can a reference -- or let's say, advocate -- be?
From "One to One" to "The Few to the Masses"
The most powerful advocates can create movements. They can get large numbers in your market to move toward your brand. And it generally takes just a few of these. This is "the few to the masses."
These include people like Microsoft MVP Bill Gellin, whose individual website, called "Mr. Excel" attracts more visitors on some days than Microsoft's own Excel page. Or Damond Ling, who founded what wound up becoming SAS Canada's most important customer community, the Data Mining Forum. He was also one of the SAS "Customer Champions" who attracted thousands of customers and prospects to other SAS Canada forums and events--and were responsible for completely restoring SAS Canada's declining customer retention rates several years ago.
These are not unlike great social movements that we're all familiar with. Such as the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. which was launched by a rather unassuming but very powerful advocate, named Rosa Parks.
So, what do these super-advocates, or what I call "Rock Star" advocates look like? How do you recognize them? As it turns out, they're not always the loudest or the most brash. They're not necessarily from the marquee brand companies. Metrics that some people are using -- like Klout scores -- don't really help.
Here's what companies like Microsoft, SAS Canada, Salesforce.com, National Instruments and others who've gotten very skilled at finding rock stars that achieve amazing feats of advocacy -- who can help create movements -- look for.