Part two in a three-part series on engaging passionate marquee customer advocacyYou can engage passionate advocacy with your marquee customers by using this to build their passion. Click To Tweet
Many reference and advocacy customers are fraught with reference ambivalence and even reference burnout—which turns quite happy customers into very annoyed customer references (or ex-customer references). To avoid such unpleasantness, they might resort to incentives like free training or product discounts. Some have tried gamification in an effort to at least make reference activities fun.
Really? This is the best we can offer to our most important customers? AP firms are moving toward an advocacy value proposition worthy of the name by drawing on the principles of human psychology. The result is to provide their top advocates with value that’s actually more compelling than what they’re getting from the firm’s products and services, without compromising the integrity of their advocacy. The key is basic human motivation.
Here’s a form you should have for every marquee customer in your CRM system, with indicators of how specific traits in a particular marquee—we’ll call her “Joan,” —can help create passion for specific advocacy and engagement activities.
Marquee customers are people too.
Brieﬂy, there are six major human motivators. We all share these drivers to some extent. For any particular person, some are more motivating than others. The idea is to find which ones ﬂoat the boat of any particular marquee customer, so you can offer her a kick-butt advocacy value proposition.
Here’s a brief explanation of each, with examples of how to apply them to energize your marquees.
Recognition: This includes building the marquee customer’s reputation and status. Examples include setting up interviews with industry media, or speaking at industry events, or developing ROI case studies that make your marquee look good to their organization and industry. Special designations—like “MVP” (Salesforce), “Customer Champion” (SAS Canada), and awards like the annual Citrix Innovation Award—are also highly motivational.
The Citrix award has become prestigious in the industry, attracting significant publicity and this year drawing entrants such as Deutsche Bank, RBS, Autodesk, British Telecom, and the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency.
Purpose: Humans have a natural desire to serve something larger than themselves. Often this takes the form of serving others, particularly their peers and peer groups. So help them do so. Despite tremendous reluctance in the security industry to talk about what they do, FireEye customers are increasingly willing to speak publicly about their cyber security solutions. Why? It’s good for the industry. So replace your request for a glowing success story with suggestions for a genuinely educational case study, and you’re likely to change your prospective advocate’s mind.
Affiliation: Helping marquee customers build their peer affiliation networks has very strong appeal at all levels. That’s why Citrix was able to build a gold-plated customer council that includes executives from JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Aetna, and others. Once you get a few of these, others will be far more interested in participating.
Enjoyment of the Activity Itself: Sometimes life in a corporation can get a little grim. We forget that fun things can actually be highly productive. When advocacy programs struggle with “reference burnout,” it’s often because they don’t consider other important activities that might be a blast for the marquee. In a heartbeat, your marquee customer can go from ”Take boring reference calls with people I’m not interested in? No” to “Tell my story to a big crowd from my industry? Absolutely!”
Mastery: If people really enjoy an activity, they might be interested in mastering it. That’s the basis for long and fruitful relationships with marquee customers through advisory boards, councils, or user groups that place a lot of emphasis on learning.
Autonomy: This means having control over things that affect us, or at least having a real say. This is the basis, for example, for attracting marquee executives to advisory boards or councils.
These will help you structure your customer advocacy and engagement programs, as well as the value proposition you offer your customers—avoiding incentives, rewards or other compromising inducements.
For example, what motivated SAS Canada’s customer champions to go to such extraordinary lengths to help restore the firm’s retention rates? By leading the city forums and appearing in the newsletter and webcasts, they got exposed to hundreds of their peers, gaining recognition and status, as well as expanding their peer affiliations. SAS Canada’s hands-off approach gave the champions a sense of autonomy, rather than tightly scripted spokespeople. Also, SAS Canada honored the purpose driving the champions: to help their peers learn new approaches to knotty data analytics problems and thus further the industry.
In my next blog, we’ll see how to apply this approach to the most difficult advocacy challenge—rehabbing burned out marquee customers.
Want more in-depth insights on topics like this? Download my FREE reports to help you attract rock star customers, strengthen your brand and grow your business.