The customer journey can feel long, especially in the B2B SaaS market. After moving prospects through the first four stages — awareness, consideration, purchase, and retention — you may think the journey is complete. After all, you have a customer using your product and you’re confident in your relationship. What could come next? The final step of the B2B customer journey: advocacy.
What is advocacy?
So, what is advocacy, and how exactly can PR impact it? The good ol’ dictionary defines advocacy as “public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.” Our definition is pretty simple: advocacy is when your customer is willing to champion your solution and partnership. Advocacy can take many forms, including an interview with the media where the customer talks up your offerings, a referral to another prospect or participating in case studies and other testimonials.
A customer can live in the advocacy stage forever — which is the goal — but how can you get them to this important stage? And, how do you utilize them once they’re there?
Journey to the advocacy stage
If you’ve moved prospects through the first three stages — awareness, consideration, and purchase — those prospects are now customers and are likely currently in the retention stage. You might be wondering how to move those customers on from being repeat (or long-term) customers to being customers that advocate for your brand. (You are reading an article about finding customer advocates after all!)
Like other stages of the customer journey, the move from retention to advocacy can look different for different customers and a lot of factors are at play. It’s important to understand that it will take a while for a customer to get to the advocacy stage. Simply put, they have to earn your trust before they can be a cheerleader for you. They have to see substantial growth and a difference in their company thanks to your product. Be patient.
If you have a customer you think is ready to advocate for you, consider testing the waters with these steps:
Step 1: Find your niche
Take a closer look at the customer in question: Are they happy with their experience and willing to speak on your behalf? If so, have a conversation with them to get insight into their customer journey. What were the challenges this customer faced? How did you help overcome them? What was the result?
Work with your customer to answer these questions and get a true understanding of their perspective. If you feel the story could be compelling for other prospects in the customer journey, consider asking the customer to participate in a case study. That asset can be used both in the sales process with new prospects, as well as in securing media coverage — for both you and the customer!
Talking to happy customers about what made them choose and stick with your solution will help you better target and understand other similar prospects, and show your current customer that you value their insights.
Step 2: Spotlight the success
There are a few ways that you can spotlight the success of your customer in the advocate stage outside of a case study on your website, including award submissions and webinars.
Often, award opportunities require a customer’s commentary as part of the submission. This provides a way for the customer can speak on your behalf to build awareness of your company’s solution and, in some cases, allows them to be included as a recipient alongside your brand if you win.
Another way to spotlight your customer’s success with your solution is to encourage your them to do a joint webinar with your company. Especially if your target audience and that of your customer have some overlap. Depending on the target audience for each, this webinar could include overarching industry insight from both parties. Or, the customer can share their pain points and how your solution helped solve that to better the future of the business. Joint webinars not only help to promote your company but can also both position you and your customer industry experts and thought leaders.
Step 3: Get the whole team on board
Can your customer offer industry insights that compliment your own? Or, does your customer have a thought leader who can speak to how your solution helps solve a problem in the industry?
Once you have a customer who’s open to case studies and other testimonials, consider positioning your thought leaders alongside your customers’ thought leaders to further educate the industry, while showcasing a successful partnership.
This kind of advocacy could take on a few forms. For instance, a customer could offer up a quote about your brand as a solution. Or, you could ask your customer to contribute a piece of content, either to your blog or a media outlet, that shares how to overcome an obstacle, including how they used your solution to do so. The creative opportunities abound when you find yourself a true customer advocate.
The advocacy stage may be the final stage for one customer but it can lead to the beginning stage for another. If you’re looking to target new customers, or spotlight current ones, contact Lindsey Groepper to see how PR can impact your B2B customer journey.