Reference Point:
September 2015 Gray

Your marketing and sales groups, as well as your C-suite, probably understand the increasing importance of customer advocates to growing your business. They get it. But what they're often missing is clarity on how to implement this general concept. A common question I get is, "What do we need to do now to maximize the effectiveness of our customer advocates and influencers?"

Below is a framework, together with a few slides, that I've found to be very effective in clarifying for these groups what exactly do we need to do now?
Save the Date:
The 2016 Summit on Customer Engagement will be March 1-2, 2016 in Redwood City, CA.

Sneak preview:
Keynoters will include:
- Jeanne Bliss,
former Chief Customer Officer, Microsoft and several other firms, and author of Chief Customer Officer 2.0
- Jonah Berger, Prof. of Marketing, Wharton School, author of the NY Times bestseller Contagion: Why Things Catch On, world's leading authority on making ideas spread.
- Richard Owen, CEO of Satmetrix, author of Answering the Ultimate Question: How Net Promoter Can Change Your Business, world's top authority on developing promoters.

To keep informed as our plans develop, please respond to this email with
"keep informed" in the subject line.


1. Start with your Buyer's Decision Journey (BDJ).
It's remarkable that many marketing and sales folks still approach campaigns without giving serious thought to how prospect's are buying. It's not hard to research this, and short of that you can still get a good idea of this from talking to field sales and marketing people.

For example, you'll find that in the "Awareness" phase of the BDJ, prospects consume certain content: publications, analysts, social media sites and perhaps advertising. They also interact with friends and colleagues, certain peer communities, events and so forth. So map these out, like so:

2. Map your marketing and sales efforts to the BDJ.

Conceptually, it will probably look something like this (below). The blue areas represent content from and interactions with you (that is, your firm, its employees, agencies, and so forth). The green areas represent content from and interactions with your customer advocates and influencers. Note that the vast majority of the BDJ is covered in blue. Mainstay estimates that in their marketing and sales efforts, B2B firms on average provide 70% of content and interactions from the firm and its agencies (blue), and only 30% from its customers (green).

Everyone by now knows that prospects prefer green: content from and interactions with your customers. So, you need to ...

3. Rebalance your marketing and sales mix.

The predominately blue chart needs to reverse the balance to predominately green. This is the long term vision for marketing and sales.

4. The best action to take now: Find and fill the gaps.
Rome wasn't built in a day and you won't get to a 70%+ green coverage of your BDJ in a day either. But you can start in a very high impact way by asking, "Where are the gaps in our BDJ? At what points are buyers falling out of their BDJ and abandoning us?" Chances are good, the gaps are there because they're covered by "blue" content and interactions--information and interactions with you, your employees and agencies. So those are the ones you replace with green--content and interactions with your customers.

Here's an example. In the early days of growing its book sales, Amazon did a great job of getting people to its website and engaging them--moving them from Awareness and well into considering Change (i.e., buying the book). But they weren't quite pulling the trigger--they were leaving the website without purchasing. They reviewed the content they were providing at that stage--heavily weighted to Amazon comments about the book along with select, positive media book reviews (blue), like so.

Amazon realized that buyers wanted to get unvarnished information from their peers--ordinary readers like them. That's when Jeff Bezos made the decision (at the time, very controversial) to allow all reviews from ordinary readers (green). And that closed the gap, accelerating book sales.

For a B2B case, those who've attended our Summits on Customer Engagement may recall Wally Thiessen showing how SAS Canada addressed a glaring gap it had in getting existing customers who were up for renewal past the Awareness phase and into considering Change phase. As a result, customer retention rates were in serious decline. The firm considered launching a significant advertising and marketing communications efforts to fill the gap (primarily with blue content from and interactions with SAS Canada), like so:

But Wally and his team convinced them to bag that idea and develop dynamic green content from and interactions with the firm's Customer Champions. Like so:

The result was to completely restore retention rates at a fraction of the cost of a major (blue) advertising and marcom effort.

When explaining your customer advocacy and influence strategy to sales, marketing or the C-suite, try presenting it in this broader, strategic framework. You'll find--like I do--a lot of nodding heads in the room.

All the best,


Bill Lee

Center for Customer Engagement (C4CE) | +1 469.726.2651 | |
3225 Turtle Creek Blvd
Suite 1801
Dallas, TX 75219