Lots of euro coins

I recently read a blog titled “what is customer advocacy and 11 reasons why it’s the bedrock of your business“. It’s the kind of article I see everywhere. I mean, everywhere. Featuring nice Deloitte stats and nice reasons why advocacy is so important. It’s the kind of article that if you were presenting your customer advocacy strategy to your board you would want to lift stats from.

BUT THEN… I read something that I fundamentally disagree with, this line; “These are the people who will become the pillars of your brand – the ones who spend the most money, bring in more customers, and shout your name from the rooftops.” Now it’s not the entire sentence I have a problem with, it’s the “spend the most money” part I have an issue with…

It’s not all about who spends the most £ with your company

If your advocacy targets are the biggest brands and customers, who spend the most money, you are categorically missing opportunities to work with more creative, dedicated and inspiring advocates.

Can I also remind you, that most of the time you’ll be disappointed by big brands and customers who spend a lot of money: more red tape, less flexibility with creative projects and also you have to deal with their PR people… which can be challenging.

Some of the best advocacy out there comes from the big tech companies, like Microsoft when they showcase great incubator projects or tech for good projects, for example, this awesome story about Easton LaChapelle who builds robotic arms using Microsoft tech. Easton doesn’t work for a billion-dollar brand, but its powerful stuff.

Ethics in customer advocacy matters

Ok… so Microsoft one of the world’s best-known brands can afford not to care about shouting about their biggest brands… but, all things B2B are moving to a more values-led way of marketing (here are some things to think about in relation to ethical marketing) and customers consider this in their purchasing decisions, so ask yourself these simple questions next time you go after an advocate:

  1. When you purchase from another company what are the things you care about the most? The calibre of who else buys from them? How do they work with their customers? Is it how good their reviews are?
  2. Does this brand represent your companies values and mission? If no, do you want them as an advocate?
  3. How open is the brand to working on a creative project?
  4. What is your advocacy pitch – why should a customer partner with you and what are you offering them?

With that last question, it sometimes seems like the answer is that a customer should “want” to partner with you because it’s good for everybody, but the reality is – it isn’t always. Carefully think through what you are actually offering them.

When I work with a customer it’s about a mutual relationship based on trust that will benefit them, but with bigger brands, it’s pretty much always going to feel like you need them more than they need you and believe me… they know it.

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