Advocating for Your Value: A Guide for Customer Marketing and Advocacy Professionals

April 10, 2024

You know the proverb “The cobbler’s kids have no shoes?”

It’s a classic one that illustrates the phenomenon where professionals are so busy providing services to others that they neglect to provide the same service to their own family or themselves.

It’s a spot-on analogy for customer marketing and advocacy professionals. CMA folks are amazing at touting the accomplishments of customers and making them feel like superheroes—but when it comes to highlighting their own accomplishments? Crickets.

I don’t know whether this reluctance to self-advocate is born out of modesty, discomfort with being the center of attention, wanting the focus of the work to be entirely on the customers, or something else, but seriously: if you’re in CMA and your organization is hyper-focused on ROI and revenue—which, let’s face it, is pretty much all companies these days—you need to validate your existence with metrics, and that means tooting your own horn.

Here are some ways to do that effectively without looking obnoxious.

1. Track and share your wins.

When a customer advocate you’ve nurtured switches companies but continues to champion your products or services at their new organization, make sure your role in retaining that advocate is recognized. Document the journey, from the initial relationship-building to the eventual new sale and share this success story with your team and leadership. It’s a powerful example of how customer advocacy drives business growth. This isn’t just a win for sales—it’s a testament to your sustained engagement efforts. Make sure that connection is clear.

Does your organization have a “kudos” Slack channel?

This is a great avenue for highlighting quick wins like customer testimonials, quotes from (and links to) new reviews and other tangible reminders of the outcome of your work. This is probably the easiest way to draw attention to the cool things your customers are doing while subtly making the point known that it’s your efforts that produced those results.

2. Leverage case studies and testimonials in sales cycles.

Document every instance where a customer reference, case study, or testimonial plays a role in winning new business. Collaborate with sales teams to track how these resources influence decision-making processes and contribute to closing deals. This can be as simple as creating a checkbox for each activity/asset in your CRM in the opportunity field.

By establishing a direct link between your customer advocacy initiatives and revenue, you underscore the tangible value of your work. Make it a practice to regularly report these instances in team meetings or internal newsletters to ensure visibility.

3. Highlight the impact of customer engagement on product development.

Your role often involves collecting and channeling customer feedback to product teams. When this feedback leads to product improvements that result in increased sales or customer satisfaction, claim your part in this success. Present case studies in internal meetings or through internal communications that detail the feedback loop, the changes made, and the positive outcomes achieved.

This demonstrates how customer advocacy directly contributes to the company’s product strategy and financial performance.

4. Showcase retention and expansion metrics.

Retention is as critical as acquisition. Track how your engagement and advocacy programs influence customer retention and expansion rates. For example, if a series of customer discussions leads to a noticeable uptick in upsells or renewals, make sure those metrics are front and center in your reports. Use data analytics to draw clear lines between your actions and positive shifts in customer behavior, reinforcing the ROI of your advocacy efforts.

Some metrics to consider: NPS for accounts participating in your programs vs those not involved, renewal rates for accounts in-program vs those not involved, upsell and cross-sell by accounts in your programs that had relevant content sent to them, etc.

5. Assign inherent value to acts of advocacy.

Case studies, referrals, references, reviews, speaking opportunities and other acts of advocacy may not have a direct connection to a balance sheet, but it’s generally universally agreed that these activities are valuable. Work with your executive leadership team to agree to an assigned dollar value for each activity (a case study is worth $800, a customer participating in a reference call is worth $100, etc.) and keep a running tally of the cumulative value of those activities.

These figures can then be compared to the price of your advocacy/customer marketing/reference management software tools, agency fees, and other costs to demonstrate ROI.

6. Educate your colleagues.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of education. Hold workshops or informal lunch-and-learn sessions with sales, product, and other teams to explain what you do, why it matters, and how it impacts the bottom line. By demystifying customer marketing and advocacy, you foster a culture of appreciation for your role and its significance to the business’s success.

In essence, your role in CMA is about creating narratives—not just externally, but internally as well. By systematically documenting and communicating the impact of your work, you not only prove your value to the business, but also enhance the overall understanding and appreciation of customer advocacy across your organization. You also demonstrate to other functions within your company why it’s to their advantage to partner with you—and hopefully create some FOMO among folks who aren’t as enthusiastic!

And remember—there’s no better advertisement for a cobbler’s services than their kids sporting an awesome pair of shoes…

So, make sure you get yours, metaphorically!

Advocating for your value: A guide for customer marketing and advocacy professionals

This is a guest blog by Lauren Turner, member of the Advocacy Mavens Coalition.

The Advocacy Mavens Coalition is an association of open for contracting customer-led professionals, each with extensive industry experience. We’re experts in building advocacy and community programs, designing experiences, running advisory boards, creating content, managing and migrating platforms, and more.

Our members are experienced advocacy marketing strategists, community and customer success managers, educators, designers, video producers, analysts, and technical consultants. Whatever your program goals, this coalition has you covered!

Want to hear more about our services? Drop us a note!