Part 2: Barriers to Customer Marketing Excellence

Check out the second of our 10-part series on Achieving the CX Career of Your Dreams.
First, a recap of Part 1, about the critical strategy for getting to the C-suite AND saving your job in the meantime:
First, be perceived as INDISPENSABLE to profitable growth of the business by both your Customer Marketing program and you personally. This takes time, but you can start now.
Do this by making sure the customers you engage are perceived by leadership as the firm's most powerful growth resource. Your customer advocates, the advisory board, the community and so forth are more powerful growth resources than Marketing, Sales or anyone else. You can start establishing this right now. And we're going to help you.
But first, let's start with what you’re up against.
Our guidance is based on a combined 35 years of experience in this space from Jeff and myself, plus all the information were gathering in our Roundtable for a Customer Revolution consortium. Now in its third year, it includes senior executives, board directors, and other prominent thought leaders who act as research sources and an advisory board (many of you have met some of them in our Webinars). See APPENDIX, below.
3 Barriers to Customer Marketing Excellence
1. Your Senior Leaders Probably Don’t Know…
… about the immense potential of your customers to grow the business. They think CM’s job is just supporting or “servicing” the Big Dogs like Marketing and Sales. 
That said, many of your leaders are also wide open to new approaches to unlock your customers’ potential. But they need someone to explain this–someone who can show exactly how customers could be doing much more to grow the business than they’re doing now. 
They need examples and use cases from respected companies they admire. They should know, for example:
  • When SAS Canada suffered a sudden decline in retention rates, its leadership considered an expensive marketing campaign to address it. Wally Thiessen, who ran the advocacy program, suggested deploying his Customer Champions instead. They organized 20 forums in 13 cities that drew 2,000 people, among other initiatives. Retention rates, restored, at a fraction of the cost.
  • In its early days, Salesforce field sales people started hosting happy hours for prospects and customers. The found that 80% of prospects wound up becoming customers themselves. That was due not to sales pitches but to prospects having transparent conversations with experienced customers–no pitch required.
  • Diverting support requests to the customer community is common, but could community leaders think bigger? Microsoft's senior leaders including its CEO were seriously worried about support costs. Ignoring doubts that Microsoft customers lacked the passion of open source competitors, legendary community manager, Sean O'Driscoll, tested, launched and rallied the MVPs to an ambitious diversion initiative that saved the firms $100s of millions in support costs.
2. Your Silo is a Barrier to the C-Suite.
Customer Marketing is typically subordinated to a major silo (typically, Marketing), and perhaps further subordinated to a division like LeadGen.
In most cases, CM is just one of several initiatives contributing to the silo objective, so it’s difficult for you to establish the impact that CM is having even on the silo objective—as opposed to objectives your C-suite actually cares about. Even then, CM leaders have to revert to watered-down impacts on the silo metric with qualifiers like “influenced” or “contributed” to! 
Further, the silo itself tends to dilute your customers' power to impact growth, producing things like “happy talk" use cases or over-produced videos (customers prefer authentic and transparent).
In other words, your customers are deployed to just influence silo objectivesThat’s a huge barrier. And a waste of our best customers.
They should be deployed to outright meet and even crush C-level growth objectives.
3. Your Silo is a Barrier to Other Silos
In addition to your constraints within your silo, your silo may keep you from impacting important objectives that fall under other silos: like products, branding, onboarding, support and so forth. You don't get a shot at them because you’re tied down with your silo.
That's a waste of resources. For decades, customer advocates, influencers and contributors have been contributing indispensable value to customers—and to the bottom line—throughout the customer journey, not just presale.
Here’s the good news. We have dozens of use cases on this. Plus, many progressive leaders and boards are wide open to cross-functional initiatives whenever the value is there. In fact, skill in executing cross-functional initiatives is increasingly valued in progressive C-suites. And in CM’s case, the impact of cross-functional initiatives on profitable growth can be extraordinary. We're going to show you how to pitch and make this happen.
“Now is the time to uplevel your thinking about all the ways that customers can grow the business. And be bold—people like me want you [CMA leaders] to tell us these things.”
Martin Haering, CMO, Finastra 
PREVIEW of Part 3: The Big Gift: Why the great Tech Crash (actually, it's the great Tech Rightsizing) has opened an unprecedented opportunity for a relationship with your senior leadership. This is a baller move especially for you Cathedral Builders—and a huge potential accelerant for your career advancement. Stay tuned for that!
APPENDIX. Where Our Info and Research Come From.
Bill Lee created the categories of Customer Advocacy, Customer Engagement and the metric, Return on Relationship™—the foundations of Customer Marketing and Customer-Led Growth. His Center for Customer Engagement built a global community of leading B2B firms around these concepts. He built the longest-running, most respected CX conference in the world. Bill is widely published including 20+ publications in HBR–including his seminal book The Hidden Wealth of Customers.
Jeff Ernst is co-founder of the Customer-Led Movement, a cohort of marketing and sales leaders who drive this mindset and behavior change into their organizations. His company, SlapFive, is the first Customer Marketing Software platform to drive Customer-Led Growth. A former executive at Forrester, he's appeared widely in media like Forbes CMO Network, Financial Times,, Mashable, Huffington Post, NPR and others.
Since 2020Bill and Jeff have been building the Roundtable for a Customer Revolution–an expanding consortium of titans in tech leadership. It includes CEOs, CXOs, Heads of CX, CX pros who aspire to senior leadership, and innovative vendors and thought leaders. Names include Christina, Nick Mehta, Fred Reichheld, Carol Meyers, Teresa Anania, Brent Adamson, Jake Sorofman, and more. It provides CX pros with matchless experience, advice, mentoring and more. Many of you, for example, know them from our Webinar Series.
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