In the episode, ‘’Customer Advocacy: The Key to Winning at NetNew and Retention’’, Brandi Starr was joined by Adrian Chang, Senior Director, Field & Customer Marketing at Mindtickle. Adrian’s experience as an award-winning executive comes...
In the episode, ‘’Customer Advocacy: The Key to Winning at NetNew and Retention’’, Brandi Starr was joined by Adrian Chang, Senior Director, Field & Customer Marketing at Mindtickle. Adrian’s experience as an award-winning executive comes with more than 17 years of hands-on experience. His accolades to date include orchestrating marketing programs and customer success initiatives for generating win-win outcomes for B2B and B2C environments.
In this episode, Adrian discusses the importance of customer advocacy; the necessity of putting the customer first, and allowing the end customer and their experience to guide marketing - particularly within B2B environments.
Emphasizing the need to invest time and energy into converting customers to loyal brand advocates, Adrian believes in a holistic approach when it comes to this journey. According to Adrian, successful customer advocacy starts with literacy on what it takes to create a customer, and an advocate. He also discusses the need to define successful brand advocacy; and the necessary metrics that need to be tracked to achieve results.
Jam-packed with advice around the customer advocacy journey, creating brand advocates, and measuring activity for marketing success, you won’t want to miss this insightful episode!
Make sure everyone in your organization has literacy on what it takes to create a customer and create an advocate.
The term ‘’final thoughts ’’. Adrian experienced this phrase at a two day off-site, in which the presentation for ‘’final thoughts’’ was dated two days before the actual off site. Adrian believes that this phrase can often be tied to performative and dismissive outcomes, in which evolving discussions and changes are left out of the picture.
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Welcome to Revenue Rehab, your one stop destination for collective solutions to the biggest challenges faced by marketing leaders today. Now head on over to the couch, make yourself comfortable and get ready to change the way you approach revenue. Leading your recovery is modern marketer, author, speaker and Chief Operating Officer at Tegrita, Brandi Starr.
[0:34] Brandi Starr:
Hello, hello, hello and welcome everyone to another episode of Revenue Rehab. I am your host Brandi Starr. We have an amazing episode for you today. I am joined by Adrian Chang. Adrian is an award winning executive with more than 17 years of hands on experience, orchestrating various marketing programs and Customer Success Initiatives for generating win-win outcomes for everyone within b2b and b2c environments. Adrian is the Senior Director of Field and Customer Marketing at Mindtickle, and over the course of his professional career, he's proven his ability to consistently deliver high revenue growth and profitability by ensuring high customer satisfaction, guiding customer growth and retention strategies, building long lasting relationships with all stakeholders, exceeding organizational growth targets and maximizing team performance. Continually recognized for exemplary performance, Adrian has built an outstanding reputation based on his ability to learn quickly, think analytically and exceed customer expectations. Adrian, welcome to Revenue Rehab. Your session begins now.
[01:53] Adrian Chang:
Hello Brandi, it is good to see you. And thank you for that warm intro. I mean, I couldn't have written it better. It's just so nice to see you after all these years.
[02:05] Brandi Starr:
I know it has been a while. And I know even though you are most known for all of these amazing professional accolades, I most remember you from your kick ass suit collection. For everyone that doesn't know, Adrian and I go way back to when marketing automation was still a really new thing. And I will never forget, we were in London for Eloquent Experience and you showed up with the suit fully covered in the British flag. It was the most epic, I mean, I think everyone stopped in their tracks, like who is this guy? And I was like, that's Adrian. I'm like, he's the man. So I have very fond memories, in addition to all the amazing things you've done for different companies.
[02:55] Adrian Chang:
Thank you, thank you. And it was a special time. I mean, our customers and partners, just the energy around what we were trying to do in creating that marketing automation category. I've worked with various special people who've influenced my career trajectory right now. And so it's a special time, it'll always be a special time but I'm also loving what I'm doing right now. So I'm a lucky man.
[3:25] Brandi Starr:
Well, before we jump into that, I like to do a little icebreaker. I have a little woosah moment that I like to call buzzword banishment. So Adrian tell me, what buzzword would you like to get rid of forever?
[3:47] Adrian Chang:
I thought long and hard about this one. And I said, final thoughts is the one phrase that I would like to get rid of. And I'll tell you why. I had a very interesting experience at a two day off site, and the presentation for final thoughts was dated two days before the actual off site.
[4:10] Brandi Starr:
So the final thoughts weren't so final.
[04:17] Adrian Chang:
They weren't so final. [Inaudible 04:19] at that point. We'd spent two days solving some really critical, they had a really meaty discussion. And my worry is when you go with a final thought that doesn't tie the discussion is performative and dismissive. [Inaudible 04:38] you send to somebody, by saying that your final thoughts that do not take into consideration the discussion over the past few days. Now some people who are listening may have actually been part of that meeting. So I'm not going to date it, I'm not going to...
[4:56] Brandi Starr:
We won't call any names.
[05:01] Adrian Chang:
Not going to call any names, but there are people that might jibe who knew exactly what I'm talking about. I'm not going to say where because that will give it away. But yes, I would say final thoughts, that's a phrase that has continued to follow me, and I pay very close attention as to whether or not the conversations that happened in the room and happened in the meeting, come through. And there's a couple of reasons why I'm not on this one. So much discussion around, be your true authentic self and bring diversity and have everyone come together. So if you don't take the energy in the room, and take the discussion forward, say the buzz word, say the phrase.
[05:53] Brandi Starr:
I'm with that. Because I think the other thing is final thoughts generally are never actually final. Even though they might be the thoughts that happen at the end of the meeting, usually that's not the last that that topic is, and it's almost very dismissive as if I'm shutting down this discussion. These are my final thoughts, I'm going to say what I got to say, and we're just not going to talk about it anymore. So I'm with you, we can put final thoughts in the box...
[06:25] Adrian Chang:
Add it to the box,
[06:27] Brandi Starr:
Lock it up, throw it on out, we won't use that one at all.
[06:33] Adrian Chang:
Thank you. Thank you.
[06:34] Brandi Starr:
So I'm good with that. So now that we've gotten that off our chest, let's jump in and tell me what brings you to Revenue Rehab today?
[06:47] Adrian Chang:
What brings me to Revenue Rehab, is I love to just sit and talk about customer advocacy. And so I've had a really interesting career trajectory in the sense that I started off in operations, then I got to do a little bit of sales operations first, then marketing operations, then I got my marketing bug, then I ended up going into customer success. And I would spend the majority of my career in customer success before going over to marketing. And in that time frame I developed a lot of trust with customers and understanding of what motivates them, what drives them. And in the time that I spent in the marketing automation space, and again, it was almost a third of my life, I realized that there's this symbiotic relationship between love and money. And the only way for you to be able to be authentic with yourself and your objective, and also support the customer, is through advocacy. And with advocacy it's not just about the gifting, it's not just about delighting the customer, it's understanding that there are personal objectives that the individual has, there's likely some strategic interest in the organization and everyone in your company has an objective that is tied to the business. And advocacy is that, almost political part of the organization that lobbies for that customer, and does it without tension. So when I was in Oracle, and the leader of the businesses at the time, Andrea Ward, where we formed the marketing cloud, she had a great narrative, which I still use today around love and money. And so your customer marketing team, your account based team, they can't just focus on the love, because they are also targeted to look for expansion opportunities for growth. And so you also can't have an advocacy team that's also focused on the demand gen and the expansion aspect, because it requires a different skill set. So for me, I find that there is a focus on creating these loyal, trusted advocates and building up that capital within an organization. And while they might not have revenue objectives, they play an integral role in allowing your customers to feel comfortable to almost advertise for you, and help you build your communities and also reach your growth and a positive outlook on the organization, whichever organization you work for. So that's why I'm here.
[09:52] Brandi Starr:
Awesome. And so I have two key points that I want to come back to, but before I do that, I believe in setting intentions, it gives us focus, it gives us purpose and most importantly, it allows our audience to know what they should expect from our conversation. So what are your best hopes for today or what would you like to be different for people at the end of our session?
[10:18] Adrian Chang:
I want folks that listen to this session, to think about the next big idea that they have and start with the customer first. Think about the customer's experience first and the end objective that you want the customer to have. Because what you'll find is, if you do that it lifts all the boats, but it is actually a very hard thing to do.
[10:52] Brandi Starr:
Yes, I agree holistically. And it's funny, we just celebrated the one year anniversary of our book CMO to CRO a few weeks ago. And that is largely what we talk about in that everything has to start with the customer experience, and focus everything around that and line everything else up, and that's what makes it work. So we are definitely we see eye to eye on that one.
[11:21] Adrian Chang:
We see eye to eye. And you know what I'll say Brandi, it’s not that we lack empathy, or that there's an aversion. We've been in the b2b community for many, many years. And the knowledge of how to generate demand has been well defined, ingrained in our minds. So we've naturally go there first.
[11:48] Brandi Starr:
[11:50] Adrian Chang:
And so it's about trying to figure out how do we break that cycle, and allow for the end customer and their experience to guide what we do, which is a mind shift. But if we do the mind shift, it's tremendous what will come out on the other side.
[12:10] Brandi Starr:
Exactly. I agree holistically. And I want to jump back to something you said, because it is a key thing that I think a lot of people missed. You talked about the fact that everyone has a personal objective, when they're whether it's choosing technology, whatever they're doing in their jobs. And I do think that this is something I'd like to dig into. Because I don't think that marketers think about the fact that, yes, people are making decisions about what's best for their business but everybody does have their own intrinsic, their personal objectives. And the decisions they make the vendors they work with the technologies they choose, all of those things tie to their personal objectives in one way or another. What are your thoughts on that? Dig a little deeper there.
[13:07] Adrian Chang:
So I believe that and I'm an economist, and I was, most [inaudible13:12]. I'm a micro economist. So the how people make decisions is something that has, again guided me in my career for 20 years. And so when you're looking at a technology, if you're part of a committee and you're making a technology decision, you often look across the committee and look at the business and say, how do I make the best decision for the company? And then there's that next layer down of is this the right decision for me? And it's important not to ignore that that level of decision making happens. And I've been on both sides of being part of the committee and having my personal and the company objectives be met. And then I've been on the other side. And what we often ignore, is that there's often buyer's remorse when you spend a lot of time in a decision that you know, is not right for you? And so when you go from that buying cycle to that customer experience cycle, the whole concept of a promoter in the detractor might not even be tied to your technology. It might have been tied to the process. And so that's where that tension and conflict comes in. And it's important to understand that and so within my current role, I've had to lead a couple of different experiences where we've done a committee review, and it's important to democratize the process and look at what are the lenses and perspectives of every individual within the committee and understand that it's like you're looking at a cube in multiple dimensions and how you're going to make a decision. And it does carry through. So I urge individuals who are in sales and any kind of customer relationship management role, customer success account management, understand the dynamics of the individuals who were present in that conversation. And again, for the past two years, as we go back to figuring out some level of [inaudible 15:44] of live and digital interactions, the digital ones and the signals are very, very telling. And looking at intent, and where do people go, and where do you create small for whatever the conversations they're having on social like there's, it's an interesting time to be a marketer to try to figure out how do you follow the customer but I would say the experience matters. And managing somebody who's had remorse, who then becomes a customer is very, very important and something that we've got to think about. And so it's important to make sure that everyone listens for those signals, is in tune and then you get to have really philosophical conversations on how do we continue to deepen the relationship? And that relationship isn't just with the champion that carried you over the finish line. It isn't. And so you kind of have to expand and figure out how do you look at not just the perception of the company at the aggregate, at the brand level, but then also, what are the interactions that you've had with individuals before they became a customer. Because that may very well influence what happens. And I guarantee you, if someone who has remorse and that's not been addressed, they're the ones who are going to listen to the competition, and throw mud and muddy that relationship, because they will have a very personal need or experience that has not been addressed.
[17:25] Brandi Starr:
Yeah, and I have definitely seen that. And just to give some examples of things that people should be thinking about, job security is one. Because we are implementers, we're often coming in with the shiny new thing that the champion has purchased with not enough buy in, and having to get those technologies stood up and connected, etc. And one of the things that I have heard from users, that should have been a part of the buying committee, or things that they just didn't feel comfortable saying out loud, is bringing in this other thing, I've got so many years working with this. Now you bring in this new thing, that makes me feel like my job is threatened, because I'm not an expert in that. Or I've heard some people that they're close to retirement age, and they're like I'm not trying to learn anything new. Or in some cases, it really is the relationship and customer experience. Working with this vendor makes my day to day harder because of the experience that they have. And so these are all things, especially for technology vendors, but even I work with a lot of clients in the manufacturing space and that is also true, which is completely different than tech. And so as marketers, we have to figure out how to address those things that people are not going to openly say out loud. Because no one's going to say, you making this purchase decision threatens my job so I don't want it. Nobody says that out loud. But they're definitely in the meeting thinking it.
[19:13] Adrian Chang:
They're thinking it. Absolutely. And I love what you brought in. I love what you brought in there. Because there's a lot of that individual process when that happens. And again, being an economist utility is one. It's like, how does my life change if this comes in and what you often find is if it's a decision driven by cost, you then get well the cost like the nominal cost differential needs to also consider value. What do we value, which is then another very emotional level of conversation that we all need to be attuned to. And so in a rip and replace scenario, you kind of have to go into, well yes, we might be challenged and this is an opportunity to make sure that even if we stay, there's things that we may need to think about in terms of enhancements and investment that we need to think about. There's also parity and value that's created, in some cases for the end customers. And figuring out what's the cost of making this decision. And so it's important to sit and just get all of those things out in the open, because your ability to create advocates. So I mean, ay Mindtickle we pride ourselves on thinking about readiness as being this continual journey to excellence. And there's a set of frameworks for how we think about it. And I think about it the same way around advocacy. There are things that happen in the sales process that make that journey harder. And becoming a brand advocate is tied to utility and it's tied to a vision, and it's tied to somebody sticking their neck out and saying I believe, not only in the message and in the people, but also I believe that there is a path for me to create magic within my organization. And you end up picking and choosing winners if you don't pay attention to those signals.
Yes. So I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about what does customer advocacy gone right, look like? So help paint the picture because I know, a lot of our listeners, a lot of my clients don't really have advocacy efforts in place. Like it's one of those things, you know, they send gifts at Christmas or during the winter holidays, and that's kind of it. So tell me, what does it look like when a company gets customer advocacy right?
[22:08] Adrian Chang:
When a company gets it right, there is a consistent, always on philosophy around what do you do year round. So that starts there. Not everyone celebrates holidays in December. So I think you need to have a holistic approach, that's not just driven by your own calendar but is year round. Not all the seasons are the same for everyone in the world. So there has to be a mix of understanding the relationship between the count and the customer. So there's the individuals that you interact with on a regular basis, and what motivates them, and then some knowledge of what's going on at the organization, and then finding the right balance of how can we deliver a mutually beneficial experience. So in some cases, if you're the organization and the vendor, and you're constantly going to the customer, and figuring out, how can you incorporate them into your messaging without there being that reciprocal loop, you're not getting it right. So there has to be this two way dialogue in agreement of you want to be seen as a leader, and we're happy to help you. We're happy to partner with you to have your intent be known and well known and understood by the industry. So there's a little bit of the two way benefits system that has to be there. And then I think you also have to have an appetite to recognize we're people, and we go through different milestones. So thinking about is an opportunity for you to be a little bit altruistic and figure out what are the moments that the customer is going through in terms of life changes in terms of joy and pain, and do you even have mechanisms for that? The advocates need to be exalted and ring fenced. So the companies that do it well, they actually have a ring fenced velvet rope approach to treating the advocates different from every other customer. And if the rest of the organization has high literacy and what they advocate to do, then you're doing it well. So do the advocates get a differentiated experience when they talk to support? Do they have a differentiated experience, and does finance and legal and all of the other unseen or back office operations, do they have a sense as to how they can delight advocates? And do they materially do something for them in recognition of what they've done. So that's just a list I'm rattling off but I do think that if you start with understanding the company and individual relationship, then ensure that your company is rallied around that advocate. So it's not just the client teams that they face within the services teams. Everyone needs to understand who they are. These are real individuals. These are folks that have in some cases, put their careers on the line to stand up for what they believe in, in shared values. Does everyone have some level of understanding of that? And are they thinking about that? And is that a guiding principle for how they do their jobs? I think if you're doing that constant drumbeat, taking care of them and I come back to the convert the point that I made earlier about being a lobbyist for the customer, that's what the role is. Championing them, because you're not torn between anything else. You're not torn between supporting, trying to get money from them, you're not torn between trying to drive any other kind of ... You're not trying to do this to satisfy a campaign. You're solely there to champion their interest. And so when you think about again, I've largely been in b2b tech. When you think about the product organization, do they also listen to these individuals and create a special HOV lane for their requests? So you start going around to different folks, and I get a little dramatic with my tin cup, and say, what have you done for an advocate lately? And the companies that do that well, and then the supporting departments who understand what they do for the organization and for them, and how they inspire them, that's where my head goes.
[27:13] Brandi Starr:
And I've been an advocate for different brands over the years, and I can think of one particular experience for a software where they really got it right, in that it did feel like that VIP experience. And it was very nuanced in that, there was a website that you could submit feature requests. Every time I would do that, I would get a call from a product person to at least hear out my idea and talk about it in greater detail. Did they implement everything I asked for? No. Did I expect that? No. But did I feel special that I always knew I had the ear of the product team? Yes. When I had my son, there's no official database that says she's pregnant and she's due at this point. But somehow, they backchannel that, and shortly after I delivered my son, I received a package in the mail, that was all this branded baby stuff and thanks for being an advocate. And I was so super impressed. Because it was like how would you even know that like, it's not like you capture birthday, and due date. And even whenever they had events, there was always a special badge or an advocate lounge, or just all these different little things. Instead of the cold sandwich, the advocates had the hot served plate. All these kinds of things really made me diehard for the brand, despite what their product did. And I mean, they happen to have a great product, which was also great but I honestly probably would have still been diehard for the brand, even if the product was crappy because of the relationship. And you are right, and I definitely want to get back to that separation of love and money. Because I do think that is something that gets debated is where does customer advocacy live in the organization. Because I've seen it live with customer success but then also renewal and retention lives with customer success. So you're now putting that love and money together. So if I'm a CMO listening and I recognize that I'm not doing it well, and I'm trying to get started, where does customer advocacy typically fit in the org chart?
[29:47] Adrian Chang:
Great question. I'm going to give you a couple answers on this one. I'd say, if your organization, if you have entrusted your customer team to own the customer experience end to end, then it should live there. But if there is an established level of understanding that marketing also partners and owns it, and again, this is not me saying the buzz speak of marketing aren't supposed to experience some organizations out there. And so if there is an established partnership with the rigor, the intent of marketing is well known and understood, and you have the ability to drive the full lifecycle, then I think it should live in marketing, because you ultimately do not want tension within your customer organization. And sometimes that gets forgotten. And so, if you have the systems and infrastructure to be able to look holistically at all your customer interactions and how they drive the business, [inaudible 31:04] you put in marketing. And I'm lucky to be in a scenario where it's in marketing, and I can't say enough about how strong the partnership is with the customer success and services organization. And I'm very happy that the organization has evolved there. And that if you're in customer marketing and advocacy, again, I think the stat that I heard from [inaudible 31:29] is that it's the third fastest growing profession in b2b right now. So this is a fun time to be in either customer marketing or advocacy. And I feel strongly that that advocacy should sit in customer.
[31:45] Brandi Starr:
Awesome. And so my last question for you is, we talked about measurement. And so we know they can't be measured by the things that tie directly to the money so that they are focused on the love. And if we do have a customer advocacy person or team depending on the size of the organization, what should they be measured on? How do we define success for that team if we are not directly tying their efforts to revenue
[32:16] Adrian Chang:
Great question. So you should absolutely be tracking the number of times that they participate in anything that you do. So you have to get cerebral if it's not the actual connection of money. So you have to track your interactions, you've got to track what happens when you bring other people into the organization. I would say, track the meetings, track the campaign engagements, track how they speak, track all the little micro-moments and start there. What you start to get is a large enough set of data that allows you to bump that data up against other items. And over my career, doing this has helped me derive very different interactions. So one of the things that was very clear, before it came to Mindtickle is that you cannot only judge the advocates that do external things, like case studies on the website. In some cases, we had a silent majority of individual who spoke to analysts and did references. So you have to be able to get all of that data and have strong religion about tracking it all the same way. So in the absence of being elegant, and putting in technology, get very curious about what matters. And if after, a quarter, six months, you start to see a pattern, you can then start looking at how do you delight those customers that do particular things. And once you track them, you can protect them. And so I believe that you need to also look at managing the references, thinking about creating opportunities for those customers to share their stories, you have to have those things in the same team. Because if you do not have them in the same team, you don't have somebody that's protecting the customer's interests and also look preventing fatigue.
[34:24] Brandi Starr:
Yes, I have definitely experienced the fatigue with being a source of references. Like are you really calling me again? I have a day job that is not doing references for you. So yeah, that is a big thing. And I think customer advocacy is probably the one role that I think measuring activity actually makes sense. I know some sales organizations do it like how many calls did you make, and I'm personally not a fan. But I do think that this is a place where it is the activity that matters. And then to your point, number of case studies, references, those sorts of things can also be another measure. So we know where it lives, we know how to measure them, we know some of the key things that we need to make sure to have included, we have clear that we got to separate the love and the money, which I totally love. So talking about our challenges is just the first step. And if nothing changes, nothing changes. And so in traditional therapy, the therapist gives the client some homework, but here at Revenue Rehab, I like to flip that on his head, and have you to give our listeners some homework, because when you know better, you do better. So can you summarize your key takeaways and give our listeners their one thing? What is that one thing they can do to move their organizations in the direction of having better customer advocate programs?
[36:05] Adrian Chang:
So I would start with, make sure everyone in the organization knows who are those loyal brand advocates, who have done something unsolicited for you. Whether it's the past quarter or the past year, and celebrate them. Also talk to them and get their perspectives on their experience, and come back and review that, and set up an ongoing process to review that. Because what you'll find is, there's ways in which you can innovate the customer experience, not just through the account individuals but from finance, and then from product. And then even from other plates from legal from other places in the organization that you haven't thought about. But it starts with increasing, having that interaction, getting that understanding and then from there, making sure everyone's literacy on what it takes to create a customer and then to create an advocate, and what everyone's role is, the magic starts with at least getting your hands around who are those best customers, and what has their experience been. Start there. The rest will happen.
[37:30] Adrian Chang:
Alright. So our one thing is the celebration. My team knows, I'm always giving virtual confetti, for celebrating small things. So we are going to figure out through whatever means who our current advocates are, and communicate that through the organization and find ways to celebrate them. So I like that. That is one simple thing that we can do before, I mean, obviously, we want to move in the direction of having proper customer advocacy team and programs but we're going to start by just celebrating those that are already celebrating us. Well, Adrian, I have enjoyed our discussion but that's our time for today. So thank you so much for joining me.
[38:23] Adrian Chang:
Thank you for having me. It's been a long time.
[38:26] Brandi Starr:
Yes, as I say we have to make sure it's not so long again. But thank you everyone for joining us today. I hope you have enjoyed the discussion with Adrian. I can't believe that we are already at the end. See you next time.
You've been listening to Revenue Rehab with your host Brandi Starr. Your session is now over but the learning has just begun. Join our mailing list and catch up on all our shows at revenuerehab.live. We're also on Twitter and Instagram at Revenue Rehab. This concludes this week's session. We'll see you next week.
Senior Director, Field & Customer Marketing
I’m an award-winning executive with more than 17 years of hands-on experience orchestrating various marketing programs and customer success initiatives for generating win-win outcomes for everyone within B2B and B2C environments.
Over the course of my professional career, I’ve proven my ability to consistently deliver high revenue growth and profitability by ensuring high customer satisfaction, guiding customer growth and retention strategies, building long-lasting relationships with all stakeholders, exceeding organisational growth targets, and maximizing team performance. My expertise spans digital marketing, account management, marketing automation, customer marketing and success, marketing operations, demand generation, GTM strategy, account based marketing, analytics, community building, organizational management, and cross-functional collaboration.
Continually recognized for exemplary performance, I’ve built an outstanding reputation based on my ability to learn quickly, think analytically, and exceed customer expectations. I invite you to explore my profile below and browse my list of achievements under various roles.