One of the biggest questions that new entrepreneurs ask is – “what’s the best way to market my product or service to gain new customers?”
Today, the buyers’ journey through a complex B2B product / service has never been more disrupted. To explain why, I would like to review what has changed in the area of marketing, spanning my many years in business.
Early in my career, it was all about advertising (billboards, print ads, direct mailers). We tried to do creative, relevant ads that would stand out and deliver the right message. Then tactics shifted to mass emails and digital advertising.
More recently, we focused primarily on thought leadership and social media, and a few years after that showed a rise in influencer marketing.
We’re just about up to date, because over the past few years, VistaVu Solutions has focused more and more on customer advocacy marketing. As I see it, this is the biggest opportunity for my company today and maybe yours too. In fact, it has brought about significant changes in how we work and relate to our customer.
Customer Advocacy Marketing | Show, Don’t Tell
In all the other marketing approaches, we were essentially telling our prospects what we wanted them to believe about us. We only needed to say it; we didn’t have to back it up.
As power has shifted to buyers – mainly due to the resources now available online – buyers don’t care what you think about yourself. They keenly want to know, what your current and past customers think about you. You can see the rise of customer advocate marketing through the growth of platforms like Google Reviews, Amazon Reviews, G2 and Trip Advisor.
Customer advocacy marketing might sound a lot like old-school word of mouth, however it’s quite different. Word of mouth is unpredictable. Which customer said what to which prospect, when, and why?
Our approach is to do great work for our customers and as Seth Godin phrased it in Purple Cow, “create a remarkable experience”. You can then capture that experience to earn more work from new customers. We want to deliver a remarkable experience that makes our customer willing to share that experience. We offer these customer success stories, wherever we can.
When I say customer, I don’t mean the company name printed at the top of the check. We try to deliver great personalized experiences to the individuals who work most closely with us – the end user.
Most people are happy to share their experience. It expands their social currency and reflects well on their stewardship of company resources.
And so, our critical KPI at VistaVu Solutions is the number of references that we request. By encouraging all employees to ask for references we quickly learn how “remarkable” we may or may not be. Either answer to our request leads us and our customer to better places and strengthens our brand.
For example, we approached one individual at a U.S. pharmaceutical client to share their experience. To our short-term surprise but longer-term gain, they weren’t happy about their experience to date. Seventeen pages of notes later, we took that information back to the company and rebuilt and refined several processes that were negatively affecting this customer. We put a spotlight on this across the organization so everyone knew what we needed to do to earn their trust and gain their reference. Months later after a consistent and remarkable effort by our team to improve the relationship, we received their reference and we know there is now one more person in the marketplace that is amplifying our brand.
Do we want to succeed based on creatively telling people what we want them to think – or by delivering remarkable experiences that encourage customers to share what we can actually do?
After 25 years of marketing, in my case, we’ve arrived at a point where we get what we deserve. I say: bring it on.
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