A few weeks ago, I had the awesome privilege of attending Advocamp 2016 in beautiful San Francisco, CA. Advocamp is 3-day conference centered on customer experience, engagement and advocacy that is run by Influitive advocate marketing software (and thought leader).
The conference was fantastic - consisted of keynotes (TED-style talks) and +40 breakout sessions led by advocates and many networking opportunities. As you can expect in a conference like this, it is like drinking out of a firehose. The key is to get a couple of gulps of water along the way.
Here are my 5 (gulps) takeaways from the conference:
1. Real Relationships Matter
One of the first reasons for many companies to start an advocate marketing program is the ROI. We want to 3 R’s -- referrals, reviews and references that helps bring in the Big R -- Revenue (Holy alliteration, Batman!). But, why would an advocate do all that for a company? The reason behind someone wanting to put their social capital on the line for your company is that they have built a relationship with your brand. As Liz Richardson said in the Advocate Marketing Fundamentals Workshop, “Advocacy is about the real relationships you have with your customers”. In order to get the reviews, referrals and references, we have to have REAL RELATIONSHIPS with our advocates.
2. Take Initiative
During one of the networking opportunities at the beginning of the conference, Eric Silverberg, one of the Advocacy Coaches at Influitive held up a $100 bill and asked the audience, “Who wants $100?”. Naturally, everyone in the room raised their hand. Eric kept holding the $100 in the air and just kept looking around the room. Somebody yelled “I want it!”. Eric kept on holding $100 in the air and looking around. I then realized what he was trying to do. He wanted someone to take initiative, walk up and grab the $100. So, I walked up and grabbed it! (Thankfully, I was near the front already.) When I tell the story to others, it is very obvious to them that Eric wanted someone to just walk up and take the money. In the moment, it felt awkward, but taking initiative is about stepping outside of what’s comfortable. I’ve never been very good at networking at conferences, but Advocamp did a great job at setting up many networking opportunities for the attendees. As with all opportunities in life, you still have to take initiative, but I’m glad I did because I got to meet a lot of new people.
3. Try Something New
At another conference I attended, I saw a guy take create infographics from the notes he took during sessions. The infographic notes were helpful for me to share with others what I learned at the conference. I decided I would give it a try for Advocamp 2016 and did a couple of the keynotes as infographics, including Mark Organ’s (CEO of Influitive) keynote on “How To Transform Your Life and Business Through Advocacy”.. The infographics got some positive feedback, including the most retweets and follows I’ve ever had in a day and a shoutout during the next morning’s announcements!
4. Hug Your Haters
While there were many awesome ideas that were shared at Advocamp, the one that sticks out to me the most was from the keynote by Jay Baer titled “Hug Your Haters”. The concept is simple, yet profound: Haters are a company’s most important customers and if you show them love, they can turn into your most powerful advocates. Jay shared a story about how the director of marketing for Le Pain Quotidien restaurant turned her haters into valuable advocates for her. Whenever she got a negative review about her restaurant, she reached to the person who complained and told them that they are very perceptive and gave them gift cards to to go her other locations and tell her what she could improve, effectively creating an army of secret shoppers. A secret shopper program normally costs thousand, but she managed to create one with gift cards to her restaurant.
5. Advocate Marketing is both new and old
Half the people in the Advocate Marketing Fundamentals workshop said they were just starting advocate marketing program, while the other half were Influitive customers who just purchased. Influitive is a relatively young company, having been founded in 2010. While advocate marketing software is a newer part of the marketing technology landscape, the idea of advocates helping your business with word-of-mouth referrals is as old as time. What is exciting is that business are now formalizing programs and processes to get more of the advocate activities that drive growth. There will probably be more advocate marketing software solutions coming in the near future.
I look forward to continuing to learn more about advocate marketing and how more companies will be leveraging their most valuable assets, their customers, to do the marketing for them. And I’ll definitely be advocating to go to Advocamp 2017.