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  • October 14, 2013

What An Advocate-Centric Marketing Organization Looks Like

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes courtesy of Jim Williams, VP of Marketing at Influitive, the advocate marketing experts.

At most B2B companies, the marketing teams just keep growing and growing. You’ve got roles for pros in CRM, email and marketing automation, content marketing, PPC search and SEO, social media and community, just to name a few.

It’s easy to forget that, not too long ago, none of these jobs even existed. Thanks to the incredible power of the cloud, every few years a new category of apps comes along that creates new marketing specializations, practices, and strategies — and new marketing roles.

Keep in mind shifting buyer behavior is creating the demand for these new roles. Buyers begin searching for solutions — the search marketer is born. Buyers seek content as part of their research — the content marketer appears.

And now, as more buyers increasingly turn to more trusted sources of information to get the real skinny on products, such as colleagues and other peers instead of corporate web sites and marketing campaigns, the modern marketing organization welcomes the latest member to the family:

Introducing the Advocate Marketer
Not quite a community or social media manager or a customer marketer, Advocate Marketers often possess the qualities of both. And yet, they have the potential to make a far greater impact on a company’s bottom line. It’s the Advocate Marketer’s job to mobilize their company’s happiest customers, partners, and other fans through a formal advocate marketing strategy to acquire new customers and increase revenue.

They’re responsible for everything from the advocate marketing program design, planning and measurement, to advocate identification, onboarding, engagement, recognition and rewards. They must juggle many priorities at once while collaborating with colleagues on advocate marketing program objectives related to other departments, such as sales, product management and customer success.

Given Eloqua's commitment to being an advocate-centric marketing organization, Heather Foeh, Director of Customer Culture, oversees one of the most successful and innovative advocate marketing programs, hands down.

After learning how Heather mobilized and recognized Eloqua’s advocates at Eloqua Experience last year, I can’t wait to see how they are incorporated into EE ‘13 next week! (See you there.) In a very short time, she has already set the bar extremely high for future Advocate Marketers.

Executive sponsorship from the CMO
Building positive word of mouth advocacy is a strategic imperative aimed squarely at top-line revenue growth through demand generation and pipeline acceleration efforts — not a “nice to have” marketing tactic.

Therefore advocate marketing and the Advocate Marketer role fall well within the domain of the CMO, who must act as the executive sponsor of the advocate marketing program. Not every company is lucky enough to have a Heather Foeh, but with the right vision and mandate from the CMO, Advocate Marketers like her can be groomed or hired.

At the end of the day, however, CMOs must become the voice of a company’s advocates at the executive table. They have the power to collaborate with other executives from sales, product and customer success to ensure the entire business becomes advocate-centric.

The advocate-centric organization
Unfortunately, unless the Advocate Marketer receives support from the CMO and these other functional areas, an advocate marketing program can be very challenging to maintain.

It’s simply not sustainable for one person or even one department to independently source a pipeline of advocates, provide those advocates with engaging activities, and then recognize and reward them for their participation.

For example, customer success can help by introducing new customers to your advocate program during the onboarding program; sales and product teams can provide activities that advocates can participate in, such as reference calls, product reviews and test groups; and business development may have insight as to how to best motivate partner advocates.

To get the full picture of how a successful advocate marketing organization works, get your copy of The Advocate Marketing Playbook. The five-part Playbook is the senior marketer’s blueprint for building a successful advocate marketing program from scratch, and contains helpful, actionable advice and resources, such as worksheets, spreadsheets and calendars.

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