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The Advocacy Channel Ep. 21: Navigating Customer Marketing: From In-Person Events to Digital Communities with Patrick Kalie

Home » Blog » The Advocacy Channel Ep. 21: Navigating Customer Marketing: From In-Person Events to Digital Communities with Patrick Kalie

Whether you're just dipping your toes into the world of customer marketing or wanting to fine-tune your skills, Patrick Kalie is the guiding light you've been searching for!

For Episode 21 of The Advocacy Channel, we had the pleasure of chatting with Patrick, who's the Senior Customer Marketing Manager at Swoogo - an award-winning event management platform. He knows the ins and outs of what it takes to engage your customers both in-person and online. 

Join us as we discuss the evolution and current trends in customer marketing, the role that events play in building customer advocates, and Patrick's top learnings and advice.

Check out the full episode below, or keep reading for our favorite pieces of advice from the episode.

Prefer to listen on the go? The Advocacy Channel is available anywhere you listen to podcasts.

How do you define customer marketing? How have you seen it evolve?

Listen from 4:49

While customer marketing roles are becoming more prominent, it’s still a new field that’s constantly changing. When Patrick first started in customer marketing, the focus was primarily on delivering customer success at a larger scale and creating delight and brand engagement.

As he interacted with more individuals in customer marketing roles, he noticed that these roles could be quite different from one organization to another. Some only did case studies, some only did reference calls, and so on. 

“The concept of customer marketing has blown up over the past few years because it's kind of vague, but also sounds intuitively obvious as to why you would need customer marketing.” (6:19)

Patrick offers his own vision of what a customer marketer should be doing within an organization: "marketing to and with customers." This includes two key areas:

  1. Marketing to existing customers: Customer enablement strategies like onboarding email drip campaigns, how-to webinars, and expansion programs. These help customers make the most of the products or services they've already purchased.
  2. Co-marketing with existing customers: Collaborating with your existing customers to share their success stories with the rest of the market. It's not just about helping your customers use your products better; it's about turning their stories into marketing assets for your brand.

When it comes to this second area of co-marketing and publishing customer stories, Patrick emphasizes the unique position that customer marketers are in that lets them do this well: 

“Customer marketers are in such a cool position to do that, because we've already developed the relationship with the customer. They've seen emails from me, joined my webinars, joined my roundtables, we've met them at events, I've emailed them back and forth, swapped some memes together, and now we have that relationship built out. So when I go to the rest of the market and say, hey, check out this customer story, we're buddy-buddy, we know each other really well. That’s where customer marketing really has its grip on the market.” (7:45)

What is a common misconception about customer marketing?

Listen from 8:20

In Patrick’s experience, some people mistakenly believe that customer marketing only revolves around the creation of references and case studies. The truth is, you can't achieve these outcomes without putting in the groundwork first.

Imagine you want to get money from an ATM. You can't take out money if you haven't put any in. In the same way, you can't expect customers to speak positively about your business if you haven't put in the effort to make them happy first.

Customer marketing isn't just about the end result of case studies and referrals. It's about the work you do upfront to make your customers satisfied and willing to support your brand. Patrick uses the analogy of debits and credits: 

“It's like the whole idea of debit and credit. You get the credit from them doing these referrals, but first, you have to put some money in the bank and run these kinds of enablement programs.” (9:05)

So, remember, it's like saving money in a bank before you can take it out. Building strong customer relationships is the key to successful customer marketing.

How can you leverage in-person events for customer advocacy?

Listen from 9:33

With physical events making their comeback after the pandemic, Patrick shares how your potential for return on investment has significantly increased.  

Why? Well, people can feel lonely in their everyday lives, and as a marketer, you get to bring them together to create a sense of connection. When you gather people in one place, it also becomes much easier to collect social proof and live videos – a.k.a. valuable content for customer advocacy.

“You can have a side room with video interviews, and now suddenly you have another 10 customer stories. So suddenly you're able to gather all of this material en masse at this event. That's where we've seen a lot of folks take these in-person events, and why in-person events are one of the keys that customer marketers are missing right now.“ (11:54)

To make the most of your events, Patrick suggests having conversations with customers before the event. Educate them about your products and services to pave the way for expansion efforts. 

And when the event is over, your work isn't done. Many people who couldn't attend will experience a fear of missing out (FOMO). Use this FOMO to your advantage by planning your next events, and take advantage of the buzz and recognition generated by those who were there and those who wanted to be there. These events aren’t just about what happens on the day of – they're a great way to boost customer advocacy and make your brand more well-known.

What pieces of advice do you have for a customer marketer?

1. Stop trying to impress people

Listen from 32:25

If you’re a customer marketer joining a new team, Patrick advises this: stop focusing on impressing your colleagues and start focusing on building strong relationships. We all want to make a great first impression at a new job, but your success in customer marketing is unique in its need for cross-functional collaboration. To succeed, you need to be closely aligned with your sales and support teams (to name a few). Patrick recommends taking the time to get to know your team members on a personal level, which will in turn help your professional success. 

“What’s really going to get you far in customer marketing isn't people thinking you’re really impressive - it’s them really wanting to work with you and being excited for their next meeting with you.” (33:47)

2. Don’t rush into your advocacy program

Listen from 26:15

One of the big mistakes that Patrick sees customer marketers make is trying to implement their advocacy program immediately. It's exciting to want to try and copy successful programs, but it's crucial to be clear about what you want your advocacy program to achieve.

Ask yourself simple questions like, "Do you want more success stories?" or "Should you focus on in-person connections?" Before jumping in, it's important to take a step back and figure out your specific goals.

3. Don’t forget to ask customers what they want

Listen from 30:47

Patrick shares how he had a group of trusted customers he referred to as his "cabinet." In a candid move, he asked them about a webinar that had received little interest. It turned out that they didn’t sign up because they were already well-versed in the topic. This willingness to seek real feedback might feel uneasy since we want to be seen as experts, but this kind of feedback can guide you toward the right path. 

Customers like it when you show that you care about what they think, and you can learn so much from their feedback. Taking that extra step to get their real opinions will pay off in the end.

Want even more insights from Patrick? Listen to the full episode for answers to questions like: 

  • ​​Where do you see the future of customer marketing and events? (Listen from 16:26)
  • What do you make of the recent layoffs? (Listen from 18:21)
  • What advice do you have for organizations hiring a customer marketer? (Listen from 21:56)

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Listen to the full episode for even more expert advice on leveling up your customer advocacy initiatives. Special thanks to Patrick for being on the show! 

Connect with Patrick on LinkedIn: 

Got questions or feedback about the podcast? Send us an email!

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