Episode 7 - Liz Richardson and Deena Zenyk - Building Trust and Connection Through Customer Stories

In this podcast, Liz and Deena talk about building a successful customer advocacy program. We talk about the current shift in marketing and sales, and how you can be at the forefront of the current practices in customer advocacy. We also go over how to help your business identify customer needs, present your unique value proposition to your customers, and position your company as a leader in your field.

Full Transcription

[00:00:00] **Liz:**
What can I offer as a vendor that they can’t get anywhere else? Or, they can get better from me than they can from someone else? Those are very important questions to answer and think through as the amount of communities, programs, and whatnot continues to expand.

There are so many options; what is your key value proposition that is unique to just you?

[00:00:31] **Sam:**
Alrighty, folks. Welcome to another great episode today of the State of Customer Storytelling. My guests are Liz Richardson and Deena Zenyk, the co-founders and managing partners at Captivate Collective.

Liz is an award-winning customer marketer and advocacy executive known for her work in a customer engagement methodology. She was also VP of Customer Advocacy at Influitive.

Deena is a pioneer in her field with over 15 years of hands-on experience in advocate marketing and customer engagement. She also co-authored a fantastic book, which I highly recommend, The Messenger is the Message, with Influitive and Eloqua founder, Mark Organ.

Liz and Deena, Welcome to the show.

[00:01:21] **Liz:**
Thanks for having us, Sam. It’s always lovely to collaborate with you.

We’re so glad we found you through the customer marketing network that we’re proud to be a part of.

[00:01:34] **Sam:**
Likewise. I always look forward to our conversations. I evolve my thinking, and learn a lot.

I was thinking about how to explain to people what Captivate Collective was in the intro, but it almost, in many respects, defies a neat categorization, because what you both do is so unique and powerful.

So, maybe just in your own words, what is Captivate Collective, and what do you do?

Who do you help?

[00:02:10] **Deena:**
We are laser-focused on customer advocacy and working with companies who are embarking on their customer advocacy journey, or who are mid-flight, and looking to expand the impact of what they’re doing with their customers.

We typically sit on the strategy side with our clients. We do so because we are always looking at, “What is the next best practice?” How can we help our clients get ahead of the curve with customer engagement?

[00:02:58] **Sam:**
I love that.

On your website, right up front, you make a really interesting point about how customer advocacy is a practice, not a platform.

Tell us more about that.

[00:03:14] **Deena:**
It’s a strong statement. Both of us come from an advocacy platform provider. Liz and I were the first two folks on the services team at that provider. What we saw happen, over and over again, were clients who had made a purchase decision about a product before they actually had an advocacy strategy in place. The strategy was driven by what was most important to the business, and executed through best practices that are common across platforms.

We believe that the practice of customer advocacy is different to the platform. The platform is the channel through which you’re executing your strategy of the practice, and the best practices sit outside of the platform, and inform how you execute on your plan.

[00:04:13] **Liz:**
I like that.

The, the phrase too. It’s, it’s great that it caught your eyes. Sam. We find that it’s catching a lot of people’s eyes, even practitioners who’ve been in this space for a long time. We’ll read that for the first time and kind of have an aha moment of oh yeah. Like, like. advocacy is not limited to any one tool or channel or anything of the kind, you know, advocacy is a practice and one that we’re very passionate about and the tools and the channels and the growing ecosystem around the customer marketing and advocacy space is there to support that strategy.

You can choose tools based on, oh, that’s a really cool tool. I love how it engages customers or it does this, or does that, however, if you don’t have the strategy first, you are in danger of trying to create a strategy based on the platform rather than the needs of your organization or the desires.

And. No engagement style of the audience that you’re actually trying to build relationship with. So it’s, it’s, you know, customer needs first business needs first, combine that for a strategy, then choose the tools that will support that strategy. and not the other way. Right.

[00:05:32] **Deena:**
Yeah, I would add to that as well. for, how do we hold up that statement? When we think about customer advocacy inside the organization as a program or vis-a-vis, platform, that’s one lens, that’s one way of thinking about advocacy and that’s one way for your colleagues and your executives to think about advocacy.

When you think about advocacy as a practice and you position advocacy as a practice, that is, that is guided by best practice. I think that you are opening up your scope and potential, inside your business to be a real player, to be a real strategic player. You know, not that there’s anything wrong with being a program manager, programs and platforms have a place in the realm of customer advocacy.

But framing this as a legitimate business practice, not a.

[00:06:24] **Liz:**
This is a great. Deena, because if you think about other practices in the organization, they are not associated with a single tool. You know, my role as a, customer marketer is not my HubSpot instance. You know, my role as a sales rep is not my Salesforce instance.

The there, there, is a practice and as customer marketing and advocacy professionals grow in their. prominence in the organization. It is important that, people start to see them as the practice and not a specific program or tool.

[00:06:58] **Sam:**
Such a, such a good point. And it’s like, reminds me of this quote. I’m not sure who said it, but it was like, you know, of methods, there are many of principles, there are few, right? It’s like, there’s kind of foundational best practices that can be applied and, you know, myriad different ways.

I almost like, you know, if you don’t get the foundational principles, Right. Almost none of the tactical stuff matters. So it’s such a, such a key point. I love that one of the, one of the other things that, I really, you know, that we were talking about it and you know, right before this is like, you know, customer, how customer MC is evolving.

Right. Cause like, and I think in some ways we’re like in the very much in the early days of, of, customer adversity, but, but also. Because it’s changing so fast and it almost feels like we’re, we’re into like a customer advocacy Renaissance right now. and maybe, you know, a customer advocacy 2.0, I’d be curious, like, given both of your backgrounds in this space, No. How have you seen that, that evolution from your perspective and you know, what have been some of the hallmarks of, you know, that, that shift from like customer advocacy, 1.0, to now what we’re seeing, you know, customer advocacy, 2.0.

[00:08:12] **Liz:**
Yeah, that’s a really good question because you’re right, Sam, it’s like, it’s, it’s a old and new practice at the same time, in terms of the other practices in the organization, it’s a very young player. and it’s still evolving, but in terms of, Hey, you know, now this practice has been around 10, 15, 20 years, you know, depending on how far back you want to look at what it is today.

That’s enough time for the ecosystem to have changed quite a bit. And that’s enough time where. Your business, the business layout in general has changed enough that, that we are seeing the needs of the organizations changed. A great example, you know, is even with the pandemic and what happened over the last year and a half that has shifted business objectives and engagement with customers quite drastically and has led to some of the.

Oh, or the focus on customer marketing and customer advocacy. So we have been forced to mature to keep maturing and mature faster than maybe we would have. But yeah, so Deena and I, as background as practitioners, we are some of the earliest, probably in this space, Deena’s specifically, building programs before B2B customer advocacy programs were really.

Thing they were more experimental and they were unusual or unique. we are seeing them come to more prominence and more regularity inside of the B2B space. so if we go back to what we call advocacy one dot oh, and we juxtapose that with advocacy two Datto with advocacy, one dot, oh, there were some very specific things in place with the practice.

So first of all, kind of a unit. Consensus that advocacy was focused, pretty much a hundred percent on happy customers. Right. and it, it was finding your happy customers and utilizing them for advocacy outcomes. And those outcomes were. Pretty squarely fixated on marketing and sales. And the value proposition was this idea of organizations and the lack of trust with organizations in general.

And how are we going to get people to listen to our message? If there is an inherent lack of trust with organizations who will they listen to? And the shift in. And we in human society from trusting institutions to being peer led because of the connectedness of the internet and social media and whatnot.

And so, you know, like Deena’s book is called The Messenger is the Message, the point of how do we get our message across the people who tell that message being just as important as the message itself. So, so the outcomes of advocacy we’re really focused on. The sales to get that message, the message, through to your prospects, that you would not have the trust to give yourself.

And then a couple other factors you know, the emphasis on one-to-one relationships. so they were typically small programs with a white glove type of engagement. And then also, you know, they were. Single destination engagement programs. I mean, they were new. There weren’t a lot of them.

So a lot of these programs, had a single destination, maybe for everybody, you know, they were more general and approach a one size fits all type of approach with advocacy, one dot O. did I sum that up? Anything I’m missing Deena that you would add to advocacy one Dotto.

[00:11:52] **Deena:**
10 out of 10

[00:11:55] **Liz:**
Pass the test.

[00:11:56] **Deena:**
Passed the test.

[00:11:58] **Liz:**
So, you know, do you want to add to that?

[00:12:02] **Sam:**
Yeah, it was, well, I was just going to say, you mentioned the sort of, you know, obviously we’re post 20, 20 now in, in a hybrid or, you know, often purely remote environment how, how do you think. or what have you both seen in terms of how that’s affecting, you know, advocacy and, you know, customer stories and, and all of that.

I mean, is it as simple as, you know, I know, you know, maybe it’s like, you know, gift cards are not as valuable anymore. Cause like people now. actually really want like time it’s like, time is more valid than ever, because there’s always something to do when you’re around your house, but yeah.

You know, with your kids, with your family, like, so like, I guess how has like the remote work kind of changing the advocacy space and the fact that many, not all of us, but many of us are, you know, working remote.

[00:12:50] **Deena:**
I think one factor, you know, when COVID hit, was companies all of a sudden, you know, have this focus on. Customers. Right. And instead of looking for new customers, it was about how are we going to retain the customers that we have. So as the customer, you know, people started to get really quite inundated with communications opportunities, all virtual, right?

So. the whole idea of sitting through another webinar, maybe not quite as exciting as it once was. We’ve all heard about the kind of wild and wacky world of virtual meetups where, you know, you’re learning how to make a cocktail or smelling cheese or, you know, whatever it is. Right. lots of really interesting, ideas out.

But coming through that now with people kind of firmly settled into their remote rules, what we’ve seen happen over the last year is a real uptick in, just kind of sporadic point in time communities that aren’t necessarily driven by a vendor. So there are a lot of really great slack communities out there that we’ve seen pop up.

That are focused on a practice area, right? Which is what customer advocacy programs have done as well. So you are, a marketing automation, professional, defender joined my program, learn how to become a really good marketing automation professional. That’s one of the benefits with the slack communities that they’re super diverse, right?

Not vendor driven, but still driven by the practice. So folks are getting kind of what, what they need. in some ways from those programs, and then there are vendor driven, slack communities, as well, which are kind of filling that gap. So it’s becoming, you know, less gated. So as part of adequacy to Datto, we really talk about unindicted advocacy, where it’s no longer necessarily about going to a destination and being a kind of a card carrying advocate.

There are many different ways for customers to interact and participate. Inside your business inside your program, inside a platform outside of it and outside of your business and in the practice community.

[00:15:04] **Liz:**
Yeah, I agree with that. And to your point, Sam, and to Deena’s, you know, this availability and we’ll call it of us all to connect at any time anywhere. I mean, If you even think back five years ago, the expectation wasn’t that I would just be connecting with people all over the world all the time. The ease of connection is so great.

And there’s a lot of great things that come with that. There are a lot of challenges. That come with that. So even when we felt like with social media, there was this new space and we are inundated with all this information. So to, in vendor relationship, you have some of that same mimicking going on. You have a lot more programs available now because, like Deena said, people are buying into the value of customer relationships as being extremely important.

And so. Everyone knows they need to engage their customers. And everyone is thinking about the best way to do that. And so now you, as a customer advocacy, professional need to understand, well, if I have the desire to connect with my customers, what kind of incentives am I going to put in front of them that will differentiate.

Anything they can get from any other vendor who has a program where they’re offering benefits of some kind. And when I say incentives, I don’t, I know people, medically start thinking of prices, rewards, and whatnot, but I mean, what’s the value to me to being part of the. And, and so I think with advocacy two dot, oh, what we talk about is this need for increased personalization, right?

It’s not good enough anymore to throw up an advocacy or a customer program and say like, Hey, awesome customers. We’ve got a really cool program for you. You being, you generally, you, we need now to be thinking more. Lee about who these people are as individuals as well. And we need to be personalizing the value proposition of our programs based on more information, more exploration, more data, so that we can.

Dan’s out and offer the most value possible so that our customers are excited about that collaboration, because it doesn’t feel like we’re asking them to do us favors. It feels like we’re offering exactly what they want and need.

[00:17:34] **Sam:**
Such a good point. And, kind of drilling down into like the customer storytelling, subset of advocacy. Ah, I’d love to hear cause cause many times that. is, you know, I think people’s first, you know, foray into the advocacy umbrella is often driven by, you know, customer stories and, and the need for those. I’m, I’m curious, how do both of you, you know, think about, customer storytelling and customer stories specifically as, you know, a part of that. Overarching, you know, maybe one pillar of the kind of overarching advocacy umbrella or over keeping.

[00:18:09] **Liz:**
I do think is a key key part. because when I think of advocacy in, in like the, the peak of, Hey, what is an ultimate advocate look like? And I will often define that as someone who has. Connected your brand to their personal brand. It is now part of their personal brand story. So when your company has been able to identify a need and insert themselves in the need of that individual and not just making that business look great, because at the end of the day, all businesses are made up of individuals and we all are trying to succeed at something.

So if I come alongside as a vendor and I am able to fulfill some of the needs of you, Sam as an individual, and to such an extent that that is now part of my personal brand story, it is very hard at that point for me to remove that. Story of your, your brand out of my personal brand. And now you have ultimate advocacy because our stories are connected.

So the connection of stories is a very, very important aspect of advocacy and the, honestly the height of where we want to get with advocacy.

[00:19:22] **Deena:**
And I’ll add to that. There’s a formal storytelling aspect. So nurturing customers, developing relationships with customers, you know, so that essentially. Go through the process with you to get approval for a public reference public case study. So there’s that aspect of advocacy and storytelling, but further to Liz’s point, there’s the storytelling that happens outside of your formal case.

And those are the impactful stories that happen at networking events at industry events. When someone posts on LinkedIn that, you know, they need, we’ll just stick with marketing automation, they need a marketing automation tool. That’s where the, external storytelling, with advocacy comes into.

Hopefully you’ve had some sort of, moment or, engagement with your customer where they attach their brand to yours. and they’re going to retell that story because in telling that story, they’re not just sharing the good news about you. You’re the vendor. They’re also in that moment sharing the good news about themselves and the good news about their relationship with you.

[00:20:36] **Sam:**
That’s so true. And it’s, it’s almost, it’s like, that’s the holy grail, right? That, you know, word of mouth, that word of mouth marketing, that, you know, you, you can’t track it. It’s sorta like in the dark, but, you know, it, it, it drives the, you know, the biggest, biggest results.

[00:20:52] **Liz:**
It’s funny that you said word of mouth marketing, Sam. Cause I was listening to Indiana. I was like, well, good gracious. Are we just, are we just back? The marketing, which is not a new concept that’s been

[00:21:03] **Deena:**
It’s not a new concept, but I think in advocacy, it’s intentional.

[00:21:06] **Liz:**
Yes. And I think that’s what it is. It’s you’re not leaving to chance. Oh, well, I hope they just have such a great

[00:21:11] **Deena:**

[00:21:12] **Liz:**
Want to then organically go share their story.

Yes. We want them to organically go share their story. but We want, we want to lead them to that point of execution and we want to create the experiences intentionally that lead to that shared story.

[00:21:30] **Sam:**
Absolutely. and, so if I’m a if I’m a marketer, I’m marketing leader, customer marketer. Who’s, who’s listening to this, you know, and, and I’m like, this is great, you know, where do I start? Right. Like, can you share a little bit, you know, around, you know, how, how do, how do, I get started if I want it? Maybe I feel like, you know, my company, maybe we’re, I feel like we’re a little behind or just, we need to like kickstart our, you know, our customer stories, our overall advocacy program. Yeah. How do you think about like getting started and, and setting a strategy and, does it change a little bit based on of course, like the size of the company, of course, in the resources, available, but either way it’s like, you know, H how do you think about like, that really kicking it off and, and setting that, that strategy.

[00:22:20] **Deena:**
It always starts with talking to the customer. Always, no matter how much you think you know about your customer, what assumptions you have, what prior interactions you have with your customer. When you’re starting to think about being intentional with an advocacy strategy or customer engagement strategy, you need to go out to your customer.

We recommend doing that at two levels, one being a broad survey, where you’re not just asking, you know, what, how likely are you to recommend us you’re really probing so that you can understand what would be the value that your customer would need to get, from any sort of advocacy related interaction with you?

How, how into gamification. Are they, it does your audience, you know, get turned on by rewards. so there’s the broad survey and then also just one-to-one find your friendly customers and ask for half an hour on their calendar and probe a bit, really build out that picture of who your customers really are.

So not just a persona on a piece of paper about who your customers really. what would they really see valuable, from their interactions with you? You know, like we really advocate for moving away from really kind of stale, overuse value propositions, inactive advocacy, like network with your peers, share the good news about our brand, get prizes, right?

Like, I mean, they’re just used over and over and over again. But really it’s, it’s just, it’s superficial. Right? Understand who your customers are, understand what the value really is, and then start to build out, your, your strategy from a data informed perspective, right from the.

[00:24:08] **Liz:**
Yeah, as we see that evolution of the practice and it becoming more prominent, like what Deena said, it’s so important, you know, how can you understand how to motivate your, customers, if you don’t understand what they. You don’t understand what they need and yet yeah. They want a great product. So, I mean, that’s where you start.

If you don’t have a great product, it’s going to be very hard to get anyone to advocate for you. But once you’re past that, what is it beyond that, that you, as an organization can help that person? what can you do to bring them value as a vendor? You’re you are just a vendor, you are a vendor. So what is the gap that you can possibly bring?

I always like to call this, you know, what’s. no excuse reason that someone would want to join a program with. What is that if you’re not sure what’s that no brainer reason, then you may need to go back to the drawing board to understand, you know, what is it that I can offer as a vendor that no, they can’t get anywhere else or they can somehow get better than.Anywhere else.

And that’s a very important question to answer. and I think for people to think through as the amount of communities and programs and whatnot just continues to expand.

There are so many options. So what is your key value proposition that is unique to just you.

[00:25:32] **Sam:**
Wow. Yeah. Ton of good stuff there. And that’s making, making me reevaluate our then thinking about our kind of customer advocacy, you know, initiatives right now. And, and I say initiatives cause even, you know, with us, you know, obviously we’re, we’re a startup company and such, I feel like we. I would hesitate to call what we do a program because it’s just not, you know, that fleshed out or a start-up, you know, no one, no single person is like in charge of that.

But I’m curious, like, is, is that just, you know, taking companies, like, like us, for example, like, is that okay for a startup? You know, is it like, is it sort of like a progress, not perfection thing? And like, you know, is it one of the things where it’s like, you can do customer advocacy? Without an advocacy program, but you know, the goal is to get to a program, I guess.

How do you sort of think about that for, I guess, especially for smaller companies who like, I get it, I want to do it. I don’t, the idea of a program is intimidating. Maybe.

[00:26:35] **Liz:**
Absolutely. So a couple of thoughts on that one. We will always say that even before a program, there is a mindset, you know, we call it the advocacy mindset. and so if your, the culture of your organization is set around seeing and looking for opportunities to play into the needs and desires of your customers to create those relationship.

And to bring forth those stories, you can already do advocacy initiatives, right? So instilling that mindset and that culture in your organization is a key part of it. And that’s something you can start today. But then secondly, you know, can we get started if we don’t have a major formal program? Yes, absolutely.

And we also see that, as a part of even thinking about advocacy to dot O you know, beyond formal programs, what is there now, now that the. Area has expanded. This practice has expanded. What is there beyond just formal programs? What about all the people who aren’t even ready to join a formal program?

So whether it’s just because you don’t have it, or because there’s a whole bunch of customers who aren’t interested in, in other login and other membership, how are you going to reach those? Perspective advocates who may not think of themselves even as advocates, but are still, more than willing as you know, enthusiastic friends of your organization.

We call them friendlies to go ahead and do something that they find valuable in that moment or worthwhile. So one of the things we like to help clients think through is, you know, where along the customer journey, where can you align advocacy naturally along the customer journey. When is an appropriate time to ask for a review, not just appropriate, but opportunity.

Like it makes sense in the customer’s mind that they are being asked for review at this time, or there is some sort of, you know, give and take that makes sense in their mind. Oh yes. I just got a lot of value. So it makes sense that I would want to give value back because that’s how we are wired as human beings.

When we receive value, we feel the need to, to give value as well. So it is very. So it’s interesting Sam, cause your question might be like, oh, like what’s for a less mature organization. What can I do? But what we see is a lot of the mature organizations have been focused on programs and less so on the alignment of advocacy to that customer journey.

And we really advocate for. thinking through that customer journey and building the advocacy journey in alignment with that. And so you can create a simple process around a milestone moment that will get you some of those early results help you identify who some people, where some people are at in their advocacy journey with you and allow you to start building some key places to build that, either build that relationship or to Colson.

Great outcomes that are valuable to both you and hopefully the customer as well. I’m sure Dena has more to add.

[00:29:50] **Deena:**
Well, you know, I just, I love that, that you started off their lives with the advocacy mindset, because that really is something that anyone can do. It’s just about getting people together and making sure that you’re aligning. What your mission is and what your, what your desired experience for your customers is and how you all work together towards that.

I mean, at just a very basic level, if people are tuned in, if you’re all reading from the same page of the same book, you know, why not just empower your CSMs, give each of your CSMs a little slush fund for just surprise and delight at their discretion. Right? That’s not a lot of barriers, not a lot of boundaries.

But just starting to lay the foundation for, a different level of customer engagement and experience. So you can start really small.

Hey, I mean, I started with the spreadsheet, so you can, you can start just with what you’ve got. And, and as Liz had figured out who those customers are, who might already be on that path with you, and then start to, nurture, nurture them and go for the right ask at the right time.

[00:30:58] **Sam:**
I love that. And, and yeah, speaking of, you know, starting with a spreadsheet to the, to the first point that we were talking about, you know, it’s, like you said, it’s about the principles, you know, you know, and the best practices and the tools are sort of it’s like agnostic, right? as long as you have that in place, and obviously that’s, you know, what both of you, you help, you know, new clients with and, I’d also like note and speaking of like advocacy 1.0 versus 2.0 Liz, you mentioned sort of like the buyer journey. I would put forward I’d pause it. That, that could be another, you know, big hallmark between maybe Agnes advocacy, 1.0 and 2.0 is like, you know, more of like a full buyer journey approach to. Customer content creation and dissemination. Whereas, I mean, I feel like it used to be sort of like, at least for, content.

You know, sharing it, it was like, okay, like the buyer is like almost over the finish line. Let’s, let’s hit them with the best, like customer case studies and video testimonials at that point to push them over the line. Whereas like, what, what I’m seeing and you know, is like now is it’s like, buyers want to self consume, you know, content from other customers throughout the entire buyer journey, and they want it to kind of self.

And they want to consume different things based on their, you know, stage. It’s not like the one size fits all kind of like monolithic kind of case study approach that maybe, you know, we used to see and one data, right.

[00:32:30] **Deena:**
Yeah, and I think there’s also then. Resale, advocacy piece where any interaction that, that prospect is happening with your company, your content, your people, the person that you call up for that reference, you know, as you, as the, as the deal is really getting close to the finish line, all of those interactions have the potential to build advocacy before that deal is even.

In a way when you’re bringing in a reference to speak to that prospect, close to the finish line, you’re showing them what it’s like to be an advocate for the company, because your references performing an act of advocacy when they’re interacting with your salespeople, what does that you like? what, aspects of nurture, are built into that experience with the sales person?

So, yeah, I mean, we totally believe. I’ll start it’s from those, you know, early touch points with the business. And what we do with them, is often overlooked. We don’t really consider the full scope of the customer experience until, they signed on the dotted.

[00:33:37] **Liz:**
But to your point, when I think you’re saying Sam is. Even like the type of content that’s used in that buyer journey is likely, shifting there is that the, the typical, you know, 1, 2, 3, and, you know, they get to the very close line and then got to do a reference. They got to do a one-to-one reference call.

Even some of that is changing, right. Because how we perceive. Authenticity and trustworthiness is changing. And so anything almost sometimes coming from a vendor, even a one-to-one reference, we’re kind of skeptical, right? Because we’re like, we know you picked that reference. So obviously they’re not going to say something terrible about you.

Even how we coach our references. This is a big debate in some places, right? Should we ask people for five star reviews, you know, should we ask sales references to, you know, please share this, this and this and make sure that this comes out and whatnot. Yeah, it is so tempting, but I do think we, as buyers are becoming so savvy that we, we almost distrust now too much positive reaction.

I am a weird person. I’ve noticed, like, even when I’m going to go choose a book, I read through so many reviews. I am like very in tune with what other people. Feel about this was this worth their time. And if I just see a ton of like five stars after five stars is I’m a very skeptical mindset. My skeptical mindset says, Hmm.

I wonder if the author gave away like a ton of books, in exchange for some reviews. And can we really are, are trying to sniff. Any scent of inauthenticity and, and, you know, we want to make our own decisions and we don’t want to be manipulated into thinking this or that. So where the practice is going, as far as storytelling, like how we get customers to tell our story, I think we’re going to have to put some thought into that, right?

Because it’s not going to be enough just to get case studies or even reviews as reviews. You know, reviews are really hot right now. I mean, there’s a point in anything where they lose their power, right? If when you have too much, inundation of something, you, you, it’s going to lose some of its power. So reviews and one-to-one references and webinars.

We’re already seeing webinars. Come start to come down. All of these typical forms of content that we’re used to generating with the support of our customers. I do think we’re going to have to start thinking more and more sadly, how do we let customers tell their stories and how do we get more and more out of it probably as vendors, because any sniff of the vendor relationship can, can bring some murkiness to that water.

So I don’t have any answers today on like what all the different types of content are going to be. But I do think you’re right in the sense of that’s going to have to, go through some innovation as well. And that’s great for customer advocacy. Professionals, because that’s going to be a problem that we can help solve.

[00:36:40] **Deena:**
Well, thanks for answering the question that I didn’t answer Liz.

[00:36:44] **Liz:**
No, I think you’ve answered part of it. I wasn’t exactly sure what Sam was asking. I it’s like a combination of what both of us answer.

[00:36:53] **Deena:**
That’s not my answer.

[00:36:58] **Sam:**
Yeah, and I love both of those answers and I mean, I’m, maybe I’m a little bias, but I also feel like that’s where, you know, video kinda, you know, you can’t talk about authenticity and, content without, you know, mentioning video. Right. And, I think, you know, to a lesser extent audio, but, but I totally agree, like.

When I go on Amazon, it’s the re the Amazon reviews are almost almost pointless because what product on Amazon doesn’t have Like 4.5 star reviews. Like it’s just, you know, so to me, that in, and, and I’m curious, what, both of you think about this is like, is that where, you know, in the future, is that where we see.

You know, and it’s not a cut and dried answer, but like, is that where we see more video? Because like, you can get people’s tone and you can kind of read their facial expressions and you can just, on, on, you know, video testimonials, video customer videos, or is it also that, you know, and I’m sure it’s both, it’s like the new mediums and new formats of, text.

If we’re going to keep doing texts half their kind of evolve.

[00:38:02] **Deena:**
Yeah, I think what’s, what’s evolving with video in particular sound. Just the full scope of, the types of video reference material that we’re seeing out there, you know, from kind of the big production on site with a crew approach to a fully remote approach, to almost more of kind of like, a news feed kind of stuff.

Approach and each of those types of video, I think play a very distinct role, for different buyers, different markets at different points in their, in their cycle and each, to Liz’s point each, instills or evokes, a different level of trustworthiness. when thought of together as a suite of video interactions, I think they’re most.

[00:38:53] **Liz:**
I do think it is novelty too, right? Like, written word has been around for like the beginning of time. And video is still pretty in a pretty new medium, like, and it’s still like the, the art of video is still evolving in my mind. A lot of people are still very uncomfortable with it, you know, we all right.

To some extent, But I think we’re going to see a huge shift. As people have been on all these remote meetings, they are now getting used to seeing themselves on camera. Continually painful as it is, but there is going to be some level of familiarity with video that just did not exist two years ago.

And so it will be interesting to see how the adoption rate of video and, and now, like if we’re to bring it back to advocacy, you know, will you have more customers willing to participate in. Video opportunities, whether they are formal, you know, it’s all still a great thing to have yourself in a formal, beautifully produced a video it’s like seeing yourself in a movie to some extent, know it’s kind of like fulfilling some kind of fantasy by the way, intrinsic motivator, but there’s also this idea of.

You know, I, I, maybe I’m just comfortable putting out ad hoc content now that I, I wouldn’t have been willing to do before. And so how do we tap into this moment in time when video is becoming more acceptable? Not it’s always been acceptable. It’s always been quite stunning, but it’s more. Acceptable. Like I’m willing, I’m willing to put myself out there knowing that, you know, just like things on the internet videos, you know, they get passed around and they can live forever.

So, but, but people just have a greater comfort level in it. And, and people are really receptive right now. I think right now it’s a good really opportune time for video because you’re on that cusp right. Where it’s still.

Something that catches your eye, that you stopped for in a newsfeed that you’re willing to kind of click that button and invest.

But we’re not to the point of saturation where, oh my gosh, everyone is doing a video on every post. Right. It’ll be, it’ll be really interesting again, to see how, how that goes and, and where video match rates to in the near future.

[00:41:12] **Sam:**
Such a good point. And, before we close it out, what, what else, what haven’t I asked any other tips or, you know, perspective that either of you would share with like to share with the audience of, you know, marketers, marketing leaders who. who want to kinda, you know, do more when it comes to customer advocacy and customer story.

[00:41:35] **Deena:**
I think for practitioners now is the time there has never been a better time to be a customer focused customer obsessed marketer. And if this is your cup of tea, if you want to really build a career in this space, this is the. And you’re going to make moves, by positioning yourself as a strategist, you know, not a, not a program manager, a strategist aligned to the strategic priorities of the organization, talking to talk, understanding to C suite and, and moving your way through the, the organization.

This is the time to get.

[00:42:18] **Liz:**
And that’s a good one. and then one tip we often like to speak to is. customer loyalty programs and VDC have been around for a long time. There’s nothing really new about that. That’s been around since the late 18 hundreds, that is a practice that has evolved and, and iterated itself and has a really strong hold.

Now, especially since the eighties and in, on, you know, shout out to blockbuster for making it exciting to be part of a loyalty program, but you know, they are not the same. By any means this is very. Relationships that happen between B2B and B2C, but there are so many great lessons to learn from B2C. And, you know, as, as you watch VTC evolve in personalization and scale and relevance, those are things you can look at your experience as a.

Or as a consumer and say, why do I, why do I keep coming back to this loyalty program? Why do I use this app on a regular basis? Oh, because it’s so freaking easy. It makes sense. It doesn’t make sense not to. So, you know, there are some lessons to be learned and brought over to the B2B side, which is a less mature practice right now.

As Deena will often say, put yourself in the shoes of your customer, as a consumer, or as someone who interacts with vendors and brands all the time. What really makes sense? Why would you be a part of something like this? What would be a value to you? If you can walk a mile in their shoes, you’re a bound to create a much more engaging program with longevity.

We see a lot of people are launching programs, but people’s programs are dying as well. You need to have the underlying strategy of why would someone do this? Why would someone be here? What are the barriers that we unthoughtfully put in place that keep people from continuing their advocacy journey with an organization?

[00:44:28] **Sam:**
I love that.

I think it’s the perfect “bow” to put on this, and to tie it all together.

So, last but not least, Deena, Liz, where can people who want to learn more about you connect with both of you, and connect with Captivate?

What’s the best way to do that?

[00:44:46] **Liz:**
You can now go to our newly revamped website. That would be www.theCaptivateCollective.com.

I think Deena was also about to say LinkedIn is where we do a lot of our interaction.

So. Following Captivate on LinkedIn is one of the best ways just to keep. We we are trying so hard to keep new content coming all of the time, to really get practitioners in this space thinking like thinking, and really being the pioneers of that advocacy 2.0 that we see coming upon us.

So, LinkedIn is definitely a great way to, connect.

[00:45:34] **Sam:**

Well, this has been a blast. I’m sure we’ll have to do an episode 2, sometime.

Thank you, Deena. Thank you, Liz. I appreciate you both jumping on here today.

[00:45:45] **Deena:**
Thanks for having us, Sam.

[00:45:47] **Liz:**
Yeah, absolutely, Sam. Always a pleasure.

[00:45:50] **Sam:**
Alright folks. That was a fantastic episode with Deena and Liz.

Some of the things that we really hit on were the right best practices. The right strategy right from the beginning. Advocacy 1.0 versus 2.0, and their differences. How remote work has changed things, in particular the familiarity and willingness to do more video, starting with talking to the customer. If you’re starting your program, go out there and talk to customers. What would the value that you would need to get out of that interaction be? What’s your no-brainer reason why someone would participate in your program? That two way exchange of value.

Last but not least, advocacy is a mindset. It’s not a binary yes or no. It’s a mindset, and you can start today. No matter where you are, you can instill that mindset into the culture of your company.

As always, this is the State of Customer Storytelling podcast. I’m Sam Shepler from Testimonial Hero. If you have anyone that you’d love to hear on the podcast, shoot me an email.

My email is sam@testimonialhero.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next episode, have a fantastic time, and good luck on all of your advocacy initiatives and programs.

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