Using Advocate Marketing to Drive Demand

Overview: Sarah Schreiner from ADP shows how to use advocate marketing to authentically reach and connect with your audience.


Hey there, I’m Sarah Schreiner. And thank you so much for making some time and choosing to join my session. Today, we’re gonna be talking all about how you have the power to leverage your clients to drive demand and to support your business. And I’m really thrilled to share with you today some of what we’ve learned and some of the things that we’ve done along the way to help make this successful.  

So to kick off, did you know that you’re sitting on a goldmine? Yep, right, right here, right at your home office are right in your office if you’re back at work, not only do your clients represent your annual revenue, and a huge chunk of your future revenue according to Gartner. But they can also play an active role in helping you grow and expand your business. Think about what drives you to choose one vendor over another. You wouldn’t buy a product on Amazon, or choose a new restaurant or recommend a purchase to a friend without checking out their reviews. I mean, shoot Honestly, I just last night, I said 20 minutes reading reviews on padthai on Uber Eats before choosing a restaurant so order from our ability to hear from and rely on others has grown drastically with the internet. 

In tandem, authenticity has also become crucial to marketing and to helping people make informed buying decisions. consumers and businesses are really wary and fatigued from our cans marketing campaigns, however beautiful they might be. Even with very sophisticated targeting our clients, our prospects, businesses, they really started to see right through it. The great news is that this represents a huge opportunity for marketers, and a way to thoughtfully engage your current clients to meet business wide goals, all while driving future demand.  

As I mentioned before. We learned from Gartner that much of our future profits come from our existing clients. And wellness that is in reference to client retention. And in growing your current accounts, which is very important. I would argue almost equally as important as a marketer. I believe this also has a really strong tie to what your clients can do for you. And how they can really support you and help you grow your business. That’s really what we’re going to spend the bulk of our time today talking about. I’m going to share a few ideas and a framework of how you can start to leverage your clients to build and drive demand.  

First and foremost, we’ll start with identifying these clients that may be a great fit for advocates and for your marketing campaigns. And in partnership with identifying these clients equally as important is engaging them and remembering that this is not a one way street with your clients. This is a two way street. This concept of advocacy is where I’ve spent a lot of time in my career. And here’s a great explanation from influitive, which is an advocate marketing platform and technology in this space. Influitive says Advocate Marketing is a system for making customers happy. And capitalizing on that happiness to achieve your business’s goals. It’s more authentic than traditional marketing, because it’s powered by real human connection.   

So if you think about your client base, and you think about the marketing that you do today, consider how often you really bring your current clients into that story and into that narrative for your prospects. Think about ordering Uber Eats or ordering off of Amazon. It’s no longer enough to just hear from the company, why they’re so great. We really want to hear from users from current clients of why they should choose you over someone else. So we recognize that this continent advocacy is really important that if it’s something new to your organization, or something that you haven’t spent much time in your career on, can be a little bit daunting of how to start.   

This as you think about who your advocates are, there are quite a few different channels that you may be surprised to find advocates already exist today. Think about if you have a robust reference program, or if you have not so robust reference program, think about those clients to even put in front of prospects. Those are number one advocates right away. Also consider those that respond to any surveys that you give out whether that is a formal NPS program, or any serving that you do throughout the year if they respond favorably Or even neutrally, these might be advocates as well.  

Think about the clients that attend your events, probably virtually now, at least for the next little while, or attend your webinars or engage with the content, marketing or educational that you’re already sending out. You also may have a presence on social. And hopefully at this point you’re aware of it, check out the review sites that are important in your industry, check out your social media channels and see where you find clients that are engaging with you. And then, of course, consider your product as well. If you’re in the b2b space like us, it’s really important for clients to leverage our technology and leverage it to its max capacity as well. Then think about those clients that are early adopters, or heavy users of the product.   

At the beginning, at first blush, these are your advocates, these are those clients who are excited about what you’re doing, to are already speaking on your behalf. But I’ll also challenge you not to stop there as you’re building out your database, whether you use the technology like influitive, or different platform, or you start out a little bit smaller and manually think to have who else might benefit from engaging with you. So while it may not be only promoters and only your very happiest clients, consider who else could really benefit from some additional and unique opportunities, and he might be willing to return the favor.   

The most important part of considering your base of advocates and starting to build out this base is understanding what you can offer them in return for their very valuable time, insight and resources. So again, a lot of these you don’t need a big budget for especially if you’re just starting out in client marketing or in advocacy, to bring more clients into the fold and into your organization. In terms of advocates, in think about things like exclusive access.  

In a smaller organization, this might look like coffee with your CEO or your product lead. Or it could be access to tools, training invitations to events, roundtable strategy sessions. This is an opportunity for you as a marketer in your organization to partner with your client success team, to partner with your service organization to understand where you can plug clients in to things that they will find really valuable in exchange for their time.   

And then once you do have some budget, or if you have the budget already. Or if you have a couple boxes of swag sitting around in a closet or at your desk. Which most of us probably do, to some extent I know I do. You can leverage things like that as small tokens of appreciation of welcoming them into an advocate program. When you’re ready to do something more formal. Thank you really appreciate them and reward them along the way. It may also consider framework of status, so similar to delta for incentive reaching silver, gold, platinum, and the status and appreciation from the company that comes along with reaching that status. 

 And then last but not least, I’ll also ask you to consider tangible rewards. So think about how much your company values a case study, for instance, or how much that might drive in terms of revenue for your organization. Is there $1 figure is there a gift card whether it’s a $20, Amazon card or a gift card to Starbucks that you can offer these clients in exchange for working with you and in exchange for their time.   

I include this here at the beginning because I think it’s really important. When you think about advocates and building advocacy and leveraging your clients to build demand and build growth. That you’re really coming into this thinking about how you can also support these clients in return. So I will certainly caution you do not start on your list. Do not start on building out an advocacy program until you have thought about what it is that you can offer in return.    

Now that we have our advocates and a good understanding at minimum of where to find them. Now for the exciting part and where you really have the chance to add unique value within your organization. Unique value to your sales team and to your internal partners as well. And we’re calling this mobilize. This is a term borrowed from some advocate marketing gurus. But we really want once we have identified and engaged our advocates. We really want to mobilize them and stick them almost like a little SWAT team on those areas that we need to focus most. And here’s your chance to connect advocates to opportunities that matter both to you and to your KPIs. And to your clients themselves, as well.    

So consider some baseline activity, reference calls, referrals, case studies, testimonials, event, webinar attendance, and of course, your online presence. And Excuse me, I’m gonna let my dog out, as I’m also so working remote, think through some of these baseline marketing materials that involve clients. And that gives you an opportunity to engage your clients. So you’ll see all of those on the left hand side here, but my challenge to you is to really split those into the right hand side, how can each of these activities support not only your business, but how can you position them in a way that your clients are also excited and willing to join in on them.   

So a great tip and I heard once on reference calls, is to really limit these calls. We don’t talk about them as much as references. Or talk to Kara about how much you love our solution. But instead to position them as strategy sessions with another leader in your market. Consider especially virtually it’s a great opportunity for this. And consider doing one to many reference calls. Where you have a stellar client, join a webinar just like this one and talk about their experience. And then you can package that to send to prospects invite prospects to the live session. And get their questions answered as well.  

referrals are a great one to consider perks or consider consider status levels for each successful referral that your clients offer, whether or not the smallest fifth stack in terms of ticket gift cards to the referrer personally, or some service fees removed if there’s something you can do there to help build out referrals. And in case studies and testimonials go really hand in hand really spotlighting your clients and what they’ve been able to accomplish in partnership with your organization.  

So instead of going to them, dragging your feet, we need a case study about this certain thing. Talk to your client success team and say, who do you know that’s doing X, Y, and Z really well. Or look at your data, look at your product adoption, who’s using your products really well. And then you can approach them with this offer to really share their story and get their name out there as a leader in their industry? Based on your particular offering as well.  

Events is another great one. If you think about webinars, the How can you encourage your advocates to use their network to invite their peers and colleagues? And how do you reward them? Do they get to meet the speakers? Do they get a special thank you note, do they get a prize if they have the most invitees attend, there are some creative ways that you can get there. And then of course, using that online presence as an opportunity for those clients to give feedback on your organization.  

Additionally, consider how your advocates can support the rest of your business as well. This will make your program feel much more connected to your organization as a whole. But also unlock the doors to really unique opportunities for your clients. To engage with your product team to learn more about client success. To learn more about your offering, and really engage with it, dig into it. The more that you can support the rest of the business, the more that this advocacy program or campaign can grow. And really get teeth in your organization.  

The great thing here as well, is that your clients will likely see a lot of value in some of these things listed on the right. So not only are you supporting your business, but you’re also plugging in your clients to some really unique opportunities as well. a win win, right? Everyone loves a win win.   

And finally is the kickoff. It’s so important to also consider how you’re going to measure success. What is this going to look like if we decide today that building advocates. And considering advocacy is a route that you’re ready and excited to go down? What does success look like for you? And how are you really going to get there. So we’ve talked about how we’re going to get there in terms of understanding who your advocates are and where to find them. And then how to start plugging them in TV. opportunities and how to position those opportunities in a way that your clients really see some value in working with you. 

Here are some creative metrics for you to measure the value and success outside of your basic stats. Of course, as marketers, you’re here because you are a strong marketer ready and willing to grow. And so you have that baseline stuff down. You’ll ideally see an impact on some of the metrics that you look at already. When you start to bring in clients voices into your narrative and into your story. Really support them along the way. But there are also some creative metrics that you can leverage as well.  

Think about the number of pieces of content that you’re co creating with your clients as partners. Or how much your clients are sharing or talking about you positively on your behalf. Consider how many events the webinar registrations. How does that compare to you sending out reminders and invitations, which again, we all do. Versus having your advocates share it with their network and empowering them with information to share that on their own pages. Then, of course, like I said, some of your basic stats on be to close new leads.   

More and more this authenticity is what is driving success in business. It’s what’s driving success in our field. And to be quite frank, there’s only so much that we can fake. When it comes to authenticity, right? It’s something that we can sniff out from a mile away. And I found in marketing is so important to understand. How we can bring authenticity into the work that we’re doing every day. And here’s your perfect opportunity, right? Bring those clients in, and allow them to engage with you and share their stories in their own authentic way.   

So finally, I leave you with a couple of key takeaways, I hope. And I really hope that this concept is not brand new to you today. But if it was today, it’s really all about understanding. And you’re sitting in quite a few other sessions, learning from a lot of experts in this field. That I ask you to really absorb what you’ve heard. And as you’ve taken notes, or as you’ve listened to me talk for the last few minutes. I hope that some gears are turning. Think about how you can identify your advocates. How you can bring clients into the fold, and how you can support them along the way.  

Consider your key business initiatives. What is your company hoping to accomplish this year? Or next year? And what content what materials? What offering Can you bring to the table to help support those initiatives. Finally, be prepared and ready to measure the value and the success of pulling in your advocates.   

And like I said on the last page here, there’s a lot of creative ways to do so. Don’t forget and don’t minimize the impact that this can have on your clients themselves. They feel more connected to you, they likely feel more engaged, more excited about your offerings, and your products. And that may be more likely to stay longer, just like we saw in that partner stop very early on. And tomorrow for action, you are more than well equipped, you have an understanding now of advocacy.  

This field is growing it’s really unique flavor and lens on marketing that offers a lot both to your clients and to your business. So I’ll challenge you to consider how you can start to bring this into your day to day how you can build it into your planning for the next year for the next six months, and really support your clients and your business along the way.   

So with that, I will again thank you so much for taking the time. I’m Sarah Schreiner with ADP. And I’m thrilled to share what we’ve learned with you. If you have any outstanding questions or want to talk anything through. This is one of my favorite topics, one of my favorite things to talk about. We’ve learned a lot along the way. And I’m really excited and happy for the chance to share it with you. So reach out on LinkedIn via the conference itself via the event itself. And I look forward to speaking with you. Thank you so much for the time Hope you have a great rest of your event.