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Reference Point 
November, 2012                                      Gray

In this month's issue:
  • Info and initiatives to keep you abreast of New Marketing
  • Update on the 2013 Summit

First of a two-part series

Evidence is growing--and drawing more and more attention from the C-suite--that marketing is dramatically changing. It's critical for customer reference programs to keep up with this. 


We're assembling a battery of initiatives this year and next to make sure you do so. This two-part newsletter series is one. Others include:
- Presentations & workshops at the 2013  Summit.
- Exciting research we're doing with Sirius Decision and the CMO Council (stay tuned). 
- My book, The Hidden Wealth of Customers and articles I'm publishing on HBR's Blog Network (links to two of the most popular are in the right margin.
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

How Marketing is Changing--And Why Customer Advocacy Will Be At the Center of It


For now, let's take a look at the most influential research that's out there on New Marketing, and its implications for reference and advocacy programs. Following is a collection from Gallup, Nielson, McKinsey and others showing this. You can use this--in your internal communications, in PPT decks and other communications with stakeholders and senior leadership at your firm--to make the following point:  we know a great deal how New Marketing will look, because it's already here. (I'm making this case myself to audiences ranging from the AMA, Forrester's Tech Marketing Council, Satmetrix, the International Association of Advertisers, and others).


Marketing's new focus can be summed up succinctly: "The way buyer's purchase has changed dramatically. We need to stop trying to persuade buyers to purchase. Instead we need to  get our customers to persuade them for us." It's not  just about bringing customer references into traditional sales and marketing processes--it's about increasingly replacing those processes with customer advocacy. 
The Research 
Let's look at key research indicating this change. First, CEOs are increasingly disenchanted with traditional marketing-as evidenced by their disenchantment with their CMOs. In a pair of studies by the Fournaisse Group in London (here and here), over 70% of CEOs believe CMOs lack business credibility, can't explain how they'll grow the business, and can't link their efforts to recognized financial metrics. 

Of course, what matters most is how your CEO views your firm's marketing efforts. If he or she is one of those 70%+, then it's time for a different approach. You can help guide this conversation by showing what New Marketing looks like. 

Studies by McKinsey, Sirius Decisions and the Corporate Executive Board have uncovered profound changes in the "buyer's decision journey." Key finding: buyers increasingly rely on sources other than corporations to gather information and make purchase decisions about products and services. This doesn't mean that traditional advertising or marketing will entirely disappear - but it's safe to say they're not driving growth like they once did. 

Who might those new sources be? Primarily, the buyer's peers. 

Implication: Your company has exactly one set of resources that are peers of your buyers: your customers, of course. And they should be the ones doing your marketing and sales for you, according to studies from some of the top research firms in the world.

For example:

The source most trusted by consumers when it comes to advertising is, "recommendations from people I know." (92% of respondents named this source). Ads in magazines were about half as trusted. Ads on social media sites, even less so. (2012 Trust in Advertising Report)

A recommendation from a trusted friend conveying a relevant message is up to 50 times more likely to trigger a purchase than is a low-impact recommendation. ("A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing," McKinsey Quarterly, April 2010)


Your best bet to acquire new customers through social media is to engage your existing customers, then align your strategy with the wants and needs that encourage [existing customers] to engage their social networks on your behalf. (Making the Most of Social Media, 2011)


Sirius Decisions:

Senior leaders ...consider information from peers important resource at every stage of buying. (Sirius Decisions Blog, June 29, 2012) (summarizing Sirius Decisions' research on the topic)

Implications for Customer Reference Programs  

The research--as well as actual company case studies I'll describe in the next issue of Reference Point--is pointing to an increasingly expanded role for customer advocates. Key elements of this new role include: identifying your top advocates (sometimes called Rockstars, MVPs, Customer Champions)--the ones who can dramatically increase revenues and profits; rolling them in to customer communities; helping them build their social capital (which is often much more effective than rewards, points, discounts and the like); and getting advocates increasingly involved in a broader array of solutions for your marketing, sales and even product development efforts. I'll expand on these in the next issue. 


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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March 5-6
Redwood City, CA USA
Early registration for the 2013 Summit on Customer Engagement is now open. To take advantage of the $200 early registration discount, please click here.


Now in our ninth year of presenting the world's leading conference on customer references and advocacy, we'll bring you all the benefits from those years of experience and a global community of some 2,000 members.


Our Theme: Customer Advocacy and the New Marketing 

Customer advocacy is increasingly seen as the future of marketing. Those of us in this profession are experiencing an explosion in innovation, technology and creative solutions in the field. We'll keep ahead of the curve. 


Gain Unmatched Insight Into How a Passionate C-Level Executive Leverages Customer Advocates  

Our keynoter is Chuck Ball, who runs AmerisourceBergen's multi-billion dollar health services business and is passionate about the value of cultivating and deploying customer references and advocates. When it comes to building senior management support for your program, you'll learn how to speak the language of the C-suite.


We've found at the Summit that when our participants get the strategic perspective of C-level executives like Chuck--in addition to the latest information on customer reference program tools and implementation from practitioners--they have a better understanding of what's important to focus on, and avoid getting overwhelmed by the details. 


Learn Best Practices and New Ideas, Selected From Our Community of 2,000 Customer Reference and Advocacy Practitioners  

Customer advocacy is now arguably THE hottest and most important area of new marketing. We'll keep you abreast of latest trends and best practices, with breakouts and workshops by top practitioners and experts in the field, culled from our community of some 2,000 members. 


Gain Key Insights on Trends in Customer Advocacy From IBM's Famed Global Services Research  
Katharyn White, who runs marketing for IBM's Global Services business, will present key findings from its respected CEO and CMO studies on why and how companies are moving toward a model of customer advocacy. Katharyn not only knows the trends, she's also on the forefront of implementing these for IBM Global Services itself.

The Master Class Series

Btw, this year, we're adding a monthly teleconference series, the Master Class Series on Customer Reference Programs, to provide you with additional concepts and tools. Those who register for the Summit can attend the Master Class Series for free.   

Customer Reference Forum | 3225 Turtle Creek Blvd | Suite 1801 | Dallas | TX | 75219