𝙷𝚎𝚛𝚎’𝚜 𝚘𝚗𝚎 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚢𝚘𝚞: 𝙰𝚗 𝚊𝚍𝚟𝚘𝚌𝚊𝚝𝚎 𝚖𝚊𝚛𝚔𝚎𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝚠𝚊𝚕𝚔𝚜 𝚒𝚗𝚝𝚘 𝚊 𝚋𝚊𝚛. 𝙷𝚎𝚛 𝙲𝙼𝙾 𝚜𝚊𝚢𝚜 𝚠𝚑𝚊𝚝’𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚁𝙾𝙸 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚚𝚞𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚎𝚛? 𝙱𝚊 𝚍𝚞𝚖 𝚙𝚜𝚜𝚑! 𝙲𝚞𝚎 𝚛𝚊𝚞𝚌𝚘𝚞𝚜 𝚕𝚊𝚞𝚐𝚑𝚝𝚎𝚛.
If you're wondering where the punchline went, I tip my hat to you, customer marketing comrade. However, if you get it, if you’ve been there like I have - well, maybe not in an actual bar with your CMO - and struggled to translate all the ways engaged customers bring enormous value to the business, then this post is for you.
Unlike our allies in sales and, to a growing extent, customer success, who live and die by steadfast report-ready metrics like value of new deals closed, retention and up-sell, we often hold a big bucket of advocacy goodness that requires more finessing, more translating to land well in an ROI conversation. It’s not that we aren’t driving lots of value; it’s that we aren’t reporting in a way that maximizes the visibility of that value. And, sometimes, we aren’t reporting value at all.
𝙁𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝘽𝙞𝙜 𝙍𝙚𝙙 𝙏𝙝𝙪𝙢𝙗𝙨 𝘿𝙤𝙬𝙣 𝙩𝙤 𝘼𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝙒𝙞𝙣𝙣𝙚𝙧
One of our most beloved and long-time clients won an award last month in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the company’s core customer centricity mission. Well done, You. We love it when our clients step into the spotlight. In this case, however, the accolade didn’t come easy.
It wasn’t long ago - one quarter, give or take - that her entire customer marketing portfolio was represented as single case study metric on the executive’s quarterly report. Missing the case study target would result in a dreaded 𝔹𝕚𝕘 ℝ𝕖𝕕 𝕋𝕙𝕦𝕞𝕓𝕤 𝔻𝕠𝕨𝕟 icon for the reporting timeframe. All the work, all the customer engagement, that big bucket of advocate goodness, boiled down to a single unflattering metric.
Missing a target sucks. No doubt. But, what’s interesting here is the advocacy team was consistently delivering real, measurable, business-critical value across a complex portfolio of customer engagement programs - ranging from, yes, those pesky case studies, but also including an entire spectrum of references, online reviews, and formal customer advocacy. That Big Red Thumbs Down didn’t tell the full story and it set us on a journey to redefine how and what we reported.
𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝘿𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣: 𝙍𝙚𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙢 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙁𝙪𝙣𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣
It took time, and readying systems, and even the occasional cell phone calculator, but the numbers were all there. They always were. Tucked into spreadsheets, and reference tools, and advocacy platforms, the value was ours to surface. Once we had the numbers, we had to find the right format, the right language to tell the story in a way that would cast a long shadow over Big Red. We looked at what we could report and settled on what we should report based on what we understood to be most valuable to the business and leadership.
The metrics we went with were:
💥 𝘕𝘦𝘸 𝘗𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘤 𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘰𝘴: 𝘛𝘰𝘵𝘢𝘭 𝘯𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘯 𝘲𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘦𝘳, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘬𝘭𝘦 𝘰𝘯 𝘢 𝘧𝘦𝘸 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘰𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘷𝘪𝘴𝘶𝘢𝘭 𝘦𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵
💥 𝘐𝘯𝘧𝘭𝘶𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘰𝘯 𝘱𝘪𝘱𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘦: 𝘛𝘰𝘵𝘢𝘭 𝘷𝘢𝘭𝘶𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘥𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘢 𝘤𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘥𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥
💥 𝘎𝘳𝘰𝘸𝘵𝘩 𝘪𝘯 𝘯𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘤𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘴: 𝘚𝘩𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘣𝘰𝘵𝘩 𝘢 𝘳𝘢𝘸 𝘯𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳-𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳-𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘨𝘦
💥 𝘕𝘦𝘸 𝘤𝘢𝘴𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘶𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦
💥 𝘛𝘰𝘵𝘢𝘭 𝘯𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘤𝘢𝘴𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘶𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘳𝘺
💥 𝘊𝘢𝘴𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘶𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘤𝘢𝘴𝘤𝘢𝘥𝘦: 𝘕𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘱𝘦𝘳 𝘲𝘶𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘦𝘳, 𝘱𝘦𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘰𝘯, 𝘱𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘦𝘤𝘩 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘯𝘦𝘳, 𝘱𝘦𝘳 𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘴𝘦
💥 𝘕𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘤𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘴, 𝘣𝘰𝘵𝘩 𝘳𝘢𝘸 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳-𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳-𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘸𝘵𝘩 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘨𝘦
💥 𝘊𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘰𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘴 𝘣𝘺 𝘳𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘰𝘯
💥 𝘕𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘳𝘦𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘴 𝘣𝘺 𝘥𝘦𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵
💥 𝘙𝘦𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘴
💥 𝘕𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘱𝘦𝘦𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸𝘴 𝘣𝘺 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮
Taking this laundry list of metrics and jigsawing it onto a single slide wasn’t easy. Many initial iterations weren’t pretty. But, in the end, we got there. And, it is a thing of beauty. All that gorgeous value, showcased in one place. (𝚂𝚎𝚛𝚒𝚘𝚞𝚜𝚕𝚢, 𝚒𝚝’𝚜 𝚕𝚒𝚔𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝙼𝚘𝚗𝚊 𝙻𝚒𝚜𝚊 𝚘𝚏 𝚖𝚊𝚛𝚔𝚎𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐, 𝚏𝚘𝚕𝚔𝚜!)
We set out to deliver a collection of value tied together to tell a compelling story in a way that mattered to the people to whom the metrics matter most. By taking a step back to explore all the ways her programs were generating value and translating that into the right language and best format, the incredible work she does every day is now part of the conversation. She is part of the conversation.
The full scope of why customer advocacy in all its various forms matters and how profoundly it is impacting the business is more clear now. That Big Red Thumbs Down replaced by a hard-earned achievement award that validates what she/we knew all along: Customer engagement isn’t a one trick pony; We need to approach it with the same level of strategy and bottom-line accountability as any other business initiative. 𝙅𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙗𝙚𝙘𝙖𝙪𝙨𝙚 𝙞𝙩’𝙨 𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙫𝙮 𝙤𝙣 𝙨𝙤𝙛𝙩 𝙨𝙠𝙞𝙡𝙡𝙨 𝙙𝙤𝙚𝙨𝙣’𝙩 𝙢𝙚𝙖𝙣 𝙞𝙩’𝙨 𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙤𝙣 𝙢𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙪𝙧𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙚 𝙞𝙢𝙥𝙖𝙘𝙩.
Take a look at what you are reporting and how you are presenting your metrics. Does it paint an accurate picture of meaningful ROI? Have you found the right numbers? Are you speaking in terms your leaders care about? Does the format help tell a story? If not, Big Red - and a CMO in a bar - might be waiting for you.