Before planning your next brand event, take a moment and ask yourself what will attract your visitors and attendees and ultimately transform them into customers? If your answer is – the sales rep’s speech or the very expensive venue and catering teams – perhaps you are not off to a great start. Instead, you could consider adding some value by inviting customer advocates as keynote speakers.

According to the customer advocacy marketing concept, you should look no further than your happy customers to capitalize on an important advantage – the customer’s delight – and match that with an audience that fits your customer persona. These are your VIP advocates. Not only do they love your brand, but they are experienced and persuasive professionals holding authority in their niche. They have a certain charm and influence on the event attendees. And the best part is that you can leverage that expertise and empower your advocates with just a microphone, letting them do all the work for you.

But why would they help you? The things that motivate advocates are status, professional recognition and personal development. By being part of your event, they gain a lot of positive exposure, not to mention a valuable network. Colleagues look up to them, business partners want to work with them, potential investors or future employers have the chance to admire their expertise, input, and skill level.

For B2B organizations planning such events requires significant work and resources. But when advocates take the stage and start sharing their personal experience with your product or service, something magical happens. Your audience becomes all eyes and ears because they are directly interested in this “story”

Stories have a way of activating our brains and relaxing us. They allow an easier and more natural absorption of information at a deeper, more emotional level as opposed to plain facts which we tend to block in today’s overload of information. Of course, putting your customers “out there” does require a certain “get out of your comfort zone” mindset but the benefits far outweigh the risks. When you give your advocates the chance to speak in front of prospects, you create more than an open line of communication between them, which makes you look trustworthy and reliable.

It’s key to ensure the right environment for your advocates to feel confident, comfortable, valued and relevant. No matter whether or not they are experienced public speakers, try not to dictate what they should say or do, nor overwhelm them with suggestions because you risk hindering their performance. You want your advocates to feel natural in order to pass on their valuable knowledge.

It’s one thing to give them a few guidelines before an event, to help them write their speech, to provide a list of key points to cover, or to offer them the guidance and support throughout the process. But it’s another thing to make them feel controlled. Nothing good can come out of that. If they need help, they will reach out to you with questions about what to wear, or how they should design their presentation slides, for example. At the end of the day, customer advocacy is about telling compelling and relevant stories that make people connect.

Events also carry a great importance in advocate recognition, because customer advocates also have something to gain off of them. If these events are planned correctly, they offer advocates a chance to be noticed, listened to. These type of events are great opportunities for a brand to grow its customer and advocate list.  So, prepare thoroughly and keep in mind a post-event schedule for your prospects when they can network with advocates, and don’t forget a reward program.

Advocacy Marketing training announcement