How an education company became interested in advocate marketing
For a long time, VIF as a business focused on bringing international teachers into U.S. classrooms. This recruitment was primarily done through word of mouth, and didn’t require a ton of additional marketing efforts. While this “word of mouth marketing” still occurs today, as I’m sure it does in many companies, our programs have expanded significantly, requiring a more focused marketing experience. To this day, though, word of mouth referrals, when organized and maintained successfully, remain one of the most powerful ways to find and close new customers.
So—how do you continue that incredibly strong, relationship-based form of selling/marketing on a larger scale? Get your customers to help you!
I know, I know. How could you possibly ask your customers for more than what they’re already giving you ($$$)?
To be honest, this was my hesitation when we first started talking about this idea of advocate/customer marketing. I didn’t want to ask too much. But y’all—it works! People (including you, probably) have the ability to truly love the companies and brands they work with, and would probably shout it from the rooftops without anyone asking them to do so. We as human beings enjoy feeling like we are a part of something bigger. We like to feel like we are important to someone else, even if that someone else happens to be a for-profit brand that you give your money to on a regular basis.
Don’t worry, I got over that mild hesitation of “what if it doesn’t work?!” in no time. Because it did work… very quickly. Once we decided on customer and employee advocacy as a focus, and started using Influitive’s advocacy platform to facilitate this relationship building with our partners, the connections with our teachers, schools and districts began to strengthen at an incredible rate (more to come on that soon).
Want to know the coolest part, though? Without fully realizing it, we (VIF) had already been performing acts of advocate marketing—and you probably are too! If you work in marketing, have seen marketing in action or have even just been the consumer of a marketing campaign, you probably realize that some of the most effective campaigns are ones that tell the stories of actual people using a product or service. If you’re anything like me, you might have had moments with people in TV commercials, crying with them, laughing with them and yelling “oh my god I need this thing right now” at the screen.
Listening to actual customers tell their stories is generally more effective than listening to a company try to convince you that their thing is the best. Of course they’re going to say that, you think—they want me to buy their thing. And even if the product is pretty awesome and would make your life easier, you might not buy it. But listen to someone else tell his or her story? You’re in.