Gartner Blog Network

The Stories of Advocacy Marketing Success – Submit Now

by Hank Barnes  |  December 9, 2014  |  21 Comments

At the beginning of 2014, I made what some found an intriguing statement, asking “Will 2014 be the Year of Advocacy Marketing?”  My belief was that it could be, and should be, simply because buyers are consistently telling us that they trust peers and third parties more than they trust the vendors that provide them with product and services.

Can you hear me?

Since the year is almost over, it is a good time to reflect.  Did Advocacy Marketing have a big impact on businesses this year?   Intuitively, I think it did, but I’d like some validation.

If Advocacy Marketing had an impact on your business in 2014 (or even earlier), I’d like to hear about it.   Please send me your stories (restrictions and requirements below) by emailing me at  hank (dot) barnes (at) gartner (dot) com.    I would like to use the best stories in a future research note on the topic.  If I get enough, I will also share some of the stories here in blog posts.

Now for the details:


  1. Must submit the story by no later than 1/31 to be considered for the research.
    (I would love stories anytime, and will share interesting ones via my blog when possible, or save for future notes, but for the current work I am planning 1/31 is the deadline.)
  2. Must be submitted by, or on behalf of, a company that provides technology products or services, preferably in B2B environments (but B2C technology use cases are acceptable).  If you are a company that provides Advocacy Marketing products or services, and are doing advocacy marketing yourselves (I’d be shocked if you aren’t), your stories are eligible.
    (I know that advocacy can be used in most industries and is great for building up consumer fan support, but my specific focus is technology and those are the clients that I serve, so please focus there.)
  3. Must have a proven, ideally quantified, business impact, such as increased revenue, reduced sales cycle times, improved retention rates.
    (Less interested in stories about improved response rates or increased lead generation (e.g. increase in pipeline), but will consider them.   Strong preference toward stories that show the ultimate results–more revenue, faster revenue, less churn.)
  4. Must provide contact information and include a statement about  your willingness for me to share this story via research or blog posts.  I may need to followup with you to get clarification or to review material for research.  If you are submitting on behalf of another firm, I will need contact information for a representative of the firm that can answer questions about the story.  Please copy them on your message to me so that they are aware that I may be contacting them.

Story Format

In order to be considered, your story must follow the following format.   Those of you that are regular readers won’t be surprised by the format at all.

  1. Open strong
    • Lead with the Outcome (the more quantified the better) that makes me want to learn more about this
  2. Describe the “Current State”
    • the situation before you took an advocacy approach and the impact/pain you were feeling as a result)
  3. Describe the “After State”
    • The Advocacy Marketing program you executed with some level of detail on how you executed the program
    • If you are using a technology solution or services to help with this, feel free to mention them.
  4. Close the loop –
    • Reinforce and expand on the outcomes that you opened with, providing some additional detail and related benefits

I look forward to reading your stories and sharing them broadly.  (And for those of you doing providing Advocacy Marketing Products and Services, this might be a great time to show the power of your advocates.)



Additional Resources

View Free, Relevant Gartner Research

Gartner's research helps you cut through the complexity and deliver the knowledge you need to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: go-to-market  

Tags: advocacy  advocacy-marketing  storytelling  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on The Stories of Advocacy Marketing Success – Submit Now

  1. Brett Bair says:

    My advocate methodology and execution resulted in Monetate being recognized as the leader in A/B Testing and Optimization Software on Trust Radius.

    I leverage tools like NPS to Identify Advocates and use Influitive to nurture them to share our content, provide product feedback, case studies and reviews.

    • Hank Barnes says:

      Thanks for the comment, Brett. I would appreciate it if you would submit the story in the format requested (or as close and you can get) to me via e-mail so I can track all of the responses in one place.

      (For others—the format is a guide, and following it closely will make the story more impactful to me. Stories don’t have to be perfect. I’ll reach out to you for more details and discuss if the impact is clear. Thanks

  2. We have just launched our advocate hub. As a B2B SaaS organization we see many areas where this program can help us achieve our objectives. Gaining feedback on product development, sharing our messaging in social outlets, deepening the relationship with our power users, providing our selling team with relevant referral leads.

    • Hank Barnes says:

      That is great to hear, do you have any examples yet of real impact of Advocacy? If so, please send me the stories via e-mail (as requested in the post). Love to hear about more orgs embracing advocacy, but looking for stories of real impact.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Personally, I do think it was the year for Advocacy Marketing. I haven’t heard much about this concept till recently and it appears to be the new trend that is only growing. Huge corporations are participating, HP, Microsoft, Oracle just to name a few. The standard of case studies and webinars are lowering in interest and advocacy marketing is growing.

    • Hank Barnes says:

      Thanks Stephanie, Our research shows that buyers look to peers for help in making decisions. Advocacy is key to that. But it requires a change in the way organizations execute sales and marketing (and puts a deep expectation of delivering a great customer experience–without it, you’ll have no advocates). So, I agree is important. Now, I’m hoping the advocacy community in the tech sector can share some stories of the impact it had had on their businesses this year. The proof is in results. Looking forward to learning about those stories and sharing the details in my research (for clients) and my blog.

  4. I hadn’t heard (or didn’t remember hearing) the term ‘Advocate Marketing’ until this year — despite working in marketing and community marketing. Now, I wouldn’t be without it.

    The company I currently work for was looking for ways to address (rather than suppress) negative sentiment from a vocal minority of customers. Advocate marketing opened the door to a Positivity Engagement Plan — and now I wish we had found it years ago.

    I’ll submit the story properly by email in the format you request.

  5. Jeff Linton says:

    Stephanie – We have been deeply involved with our customers via our Influitive Advocate Hub for 3 years now with great success, it’s not just for Enterprise companies. Utilizing advocate marketing has given our customers a voice while at the same time helping them build “their brand” in the community. I too look forward to Jame’s story of a Positivity Engagement Plan. Bring on 2015!

  6. Liz Pedro says:

    2014 was DEFINITELY the year of advocacy marketing at Mitel! In June we launched our Mitel Champions Hub (based on Influitive) which has transformed Mitel! First of all, we are engaging with our advocates like never before. We provide a fun way to motivate them to help with various projects and interact with them on a daily basis. Second, we have expanded our marketing team by involving employees, partners and customers in our marketing initiatives! We now have an army of advocates ready to help us with our efforts and it’s fun to see how creative our advocates are with some of these challenges. Third, another result we saw was that Mitel Champions is helping us unite our company! In January 2014 Mitel acquired a company called Aastra and it was a culture challenge for sure. The Mitel Champions has united us by providing us a single mission we are all working towards – promoting our company and helping it be best poised for growth!

    The results have been spectacular. Here are some to give you an idea of it’s power and how we’ve impacted just one of our objectives – social selling! The best part is that all our posts are authentic, from employees, partners and customers that are passionate about Mitel.
    Total Advocates 1719
    Challenges Completed 130250
    New Twitter Followers 1549
    Twitter Posts 60597
    LinkedIn Posts 38936

    • Hank Barnes says:

      I look forward to hearing more of your story and if you can link these activities to ultimate business results–growth, shorter sales cycles, etc.

  7. You’re on point Hank! Yes, 2014 is and was the year of advocacy marketing. You know how I know? I implemented Influitive at two organizations, my last and current companies. We engaged customers so much more with Influitive at my last company; I personally created several success stories with customers as a part of our concerted advocate marketing strategy. We then used those valuable success stories to increase retention and MRR for our existing client base and close more new business in the last half of 2014. I’m excited about what advocate marketing can do for my new client base….we’re just getting started. 🙂

  8. Chris Peltz says:

    We have been running an Advocacy Marketing program since May of this year, and have seen some very impressive results to date. Rather than focusing on the traditional way that references are gathered, we are using the program to establish a more intimate relationship with specific influencers within our customer base. We have grown the advocacy program from 50 to 500 customers and partners. And their engagement with the industry has been phenomenal. 100s of social media transactions – including Twitter and LinkedIn. And for the very first time, our customers and partners are writing blog articles for us — these kinds of assets are worth ten fold what someone in marketing might directly do. And, we have seen excellent traction in driving customers to test drive some of our new innovations and product releases. The Advocacy Marketing program not only serves as a platform for our customers to talk about us, but it also delivers timely information and networking opportunities that they couldn’t get elsewhere. This education then enables them to evangelize on our behalf — lets them be an extension of our salesforce.

    • Hank Barnes says:

      Thanks for sharing, Chris. I’d love to see you submit some stories in the format requested to explore particular campaigns and the specific results….

  9. 2014 was definitely the year of the start of a robust advocate marketing program for Blackbaud, and we certainly plan to continue to build on the momentum we see with advocate marketing in 2015. We rolled out our advocate program back in May, called Blackbaud Champions, and started using Influitive in September. We realized over the summer our customers were hungry to be more engaged with our company in a meaningful way, be recognized for their efforts, share their feedback and opinions with us, gain VIP access, and more. We realized we needed a scalable, automated, and integrated platform that could help us gamify the program, and help our customers stay connected to us and with each other, and for us to keep our finger on the pulse of our customers. We’ve had some outstanding ROI as a result of our advocate marketing program as well which I plan on compiling in the story form above for you after the holidays. Thanks Hank – I think you are spot on with your prediction for 2014, although I would venture to say advocate marketing is here to stay and will play a huge role in 2015 as well! Best, Michael

  10. Kim Ellis says:

    I have been running the BMC program for many years. We have moved from a reference program to an Advocacy program. Reference indicates a one way street while Advocacy is truly two-way! This is not a passing fad! This is a complete culture change for many companies. Advocacy is everyone’s job!

    • Hank Barnes says:

      Thanks Kim, I’d love it if you submitted a story of a specific Advocacy campaign or effort that paid dividends for BMC.

  11. Until June of this year we had a reference program that was managed manually and we had 50 references. We have approximately 500 customers. In June we implemented our first customer advocacy program. We realized we were missing out on so much by limiting the program to just those who were comfortable with providing a traditional reference. By expanding and automating our program, we were able to grow to 155 advocates by December 31st. We are thrilled with the engagement from our customers and our customers love the program. We use the program as a huge selling point as it allows our customers a place to interact with other customers in the community, get advice and share tips and best practices. And in the mean time, we can ask them to advocate for us at their convenience. We look forward to growing the program even more in 2015.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.