Episode 2 - Nick Venturella - Leveraging Brand Loyalty To Increase B2B Sales

Nick shares his strategies for building and scaling customer loyalty, and how to win dedicated customer advocates for your brand. In this episode, you’ll learn: How to foster brand loyalty among your B2B customers, a great way to increase sales among your existing customers and why customer storytelling is so effective at increasing B2B sales.

Full Transcription

[00:00:00] **Nick:**
I am often looking for validation from someone else who has already bought from that company, who can share their experience, and whether or not they’re having success. Is what they bought providing the solution to the problem that they had? Storytelling helps lend so much credibility, because you’re hearing from a peer, versus the organization telling you how great it is.

[00:00:31] **Sam:**
Welcome to the State of Customer Storytelling.

My guest today, is Nick Venturella.

Nick is an award-winning advocate marketer, and when he’s not doing advocate marketing, he’s also a musician entrepreneur. Seriously, you should check him out. He has an amazing business upcycling guitars. More on that later, but he’s currently the Customer Engagement Operations Manager at Ceridian, which is a global human capital management software company with over 6,000 employees.

So, quite a large company, and Nick is responsible for their customer engagement and advocacy program.

Nick, welcome to the show.

[00:01:17] **Nick:**
Thank you. Thanks for having me, Sam. I really appreciate it.

[00:01:20] **Sam:**
Absolutely, excited to chat. Why don’t we just start it off? Let’s talk about customer advocacy. If someone isn’t really familiar with customer advocacy, because on one hand, it’s a longstanding practice, but it does feel like it’s gaining. It feels like we’re in a bit of a Renaissance right now.

So, if someone isn’t familiar with customer advocacy, let’s start it off there. Tell us a little bit about what is customer advocacy, and why does it matter so much?

[00:01:53] **Nick:**
Yeah. One of the easiest ways to think about customer advocacy, especially for anyone who’s not familiar with that terminology, I think more people are probably familiar with word-of-mouth marketing.

I always use the movie analogy. I saw a movie on Netflix. Totally loved it. Thought of a friend who has similar interests who’d probably like it. I tell them about it. They go watch it. That’s word-of-mouth marketing happening, as an example.

So, in terms of advocacy, and how that relates to a business, is it’s really the discipline of building word-of-mouth marketing, and fostering brand loyalty among customers at scale. It’s using mechanisms and things to really do that on a large basis with lots of customers, all moving in a direction where they have brand loyalty, and they’re talking about What’s good.

Sometimes not so good, but that’s real, which is also important. The idea is to foster enough advocates who talk about the positive things over the negative things, and that that wins out. You can think of Apple as a company that has fanatics, that wait in line for the next gadget and whatever else.

It’s really about them, and what it means to them. They’re willing to promote and advocate on behalf of that brand because they love the products so much. The idea is that you’re fostering a relationship with customers that’s mutually beneficial and a partnership with them to the point that they want to sing your praises, and talk about what you’d do for other people they know, or others in a counterpart role, who might be looking to make a purchase decision from maybe your company.

So, I think that’s the key; it’s brand loyalty and fostering word-of-mouth marketing to that scale, and getting it to a point where customers who choose to advocate on behalf of a brand are choosing to do it because they want to, not because they’re necessarily rewarded or anything like that. There’s some authenticity in that.

[00:04:25] **Sam:**
I love that. And there’s so much to impact there. One thing I want to drill down into is that the customer kind of storytelling segment of advocacy, right? So it sounds like to me, you know, customer advocacy is, is a large encompassing umbrella term and, and customer stories are, are one part of customer advocacy. yeah. Tell tell me a little bit more about that. Like how do you see that and how do you see, you know, customer stories within the advocacy umbrella and what are the other, you know, some of the other key, you know, buckets, that you also, think about

[00:05:10] **Nick:**
Absolutely. I, I kind of look at it this way. I’ll I’ll, I’ll I’ll step back for a second. So I think of customer marketing and advocacy as an overall marketing discipline, it’s it’s a certain skill set. It takes a certain focus. It’s a little bit different than Account-based marketing, ABM or lead-generation Marketing. It has aspects of all of those in it as a broad umbrella term. But the focus is really to be customer-centric to, to grow and build advocates over time, to help your customers be successful so that they want to advocate On behalf of your brand. storytelling absolutely is a, is, is a key element within that and is necessary because what it does is it provides credibility for your brand because it is another customer who is like, if I’m in, in the market to potentially purchase, make a purchase, whether it’s B2C or B2B it doesn’t really matter.

I am often looking for validation. From someone else who has already bought from that company who can share their experience and whether or not they’re having success like D is it is what they bought, providing the solution to the problem they had. how well is it doing that? how good was the experience in all of that in terms of the purchase process, and then eventually it actually solving your problem.

Storytelling helps lend so much credibility because you’re hearing from a peer versus the organization telling you how great it is, they’re obviously biased because they made the product or the service So, so that’s where storytelling, becomes critical and crucial.

And, and the way to, if you have a Salesforce,  you know, sellers on your team, whose job it is to try to go and make sales, they need. Ways to help communicate to prospect customers that is authentic. And that lends credibility the sales person can say all they want. But today in today’s day and age with the internet available, there are so many places people can do all their own self-sufficient Research before they ever talk to a sales person. they’ve essentially sold themselves before they actually engage with your organization.

And it’s more like what proof points can you share with me? AKA stories. from Customers having success that can help push me over the edge to make that purchase decision.

So, that’s where storytelling fits for sure, within the customer advocacy realm.

So, applause there, if you need me to add anything, you, you just let me know.

[00:08:07] **Sam:**
Oh, yeah. I love that. And, you mentioned, working with your, your Salesforce and your, your, your sales. team or sales leaders, and even the reps. Tell me more about that. because I, I kinda feel like, you know, there’s always these silos to some extent between, sales and even traditional marketing.

I would imagine, there’s also kind of, there can be silos in between, you know, advocate marketing and customer advocacy leaders in sales. I’m curious, what you, what’s your take on that? And. Have you can share anything that you’ve learned around like best practices around getting the alignment between those two departments when, as you said, it’s, you. know, that from a pure, like you know, time to value, ROI perspective, like getting these customer stories in the hands of the sales team at the right time with the right deals.

You know, that seems like. One of the clearest, ROI indicators. Tell me more, like what have you learned there and how do you see that

[00:09:10] **Nick:**
Yeah, I, I think, I think, one of the biggest things I would say is there’s always going to be differences of opinion. This is just my own thoughts. it’s not to say what works for our organization. Maybe works for everybody else, but I will say. That if you step back and look at the reasons why and the psychology around, customer stories and, and working with the salespeople, I guess the way I would say is to position it, to help get alignment is come to the sales organization from, from like customer advocacy or Marketing.

We’re even customer success department to propose collaboration internally with sales, in the way that I, in this way, I am here as to work for you salesperson in the sense that if you help collaborate with me and we can build a good relationship, I can help provide the right kinds of customers. To be a reference for you to provide a testimonial or some sort of video customer video, that can help you sell.

A lot of salespeople are, you know, commission-driven or at least that’s, that’s the nature of their role is, you know, they tend to get paid when they get the company paid in terms of, purchases you know, close one deals. So, Positioning it in a way that you’re, you’re helping them this is to help you do your job better.

We need to break down silos and collaborate more cohesively. ultimately what that will do is the salespeople start to win more. If you’re able to provide those, those customer testimonials stories and things that help them win, you can present a clear ROI from a customer advocacy standpoint.

Which Maybe helps you get more budget to expand that operation sales increase, which is good. Now you have new customers that can come through the advocacy, pathway, to become an advocate, which means now we can then capture those stories. If we can help those customers be successful to now have more customer stories to share back with, with sales.

I think really mapping. out How it benefits sales is, is the short answer. so they can really see the value in what it is customer advocacy is actually doing for, for their role. And sales is a high pressure kind of a role. So I, I’m not saying, I’m not saying it’s, it’s the highest pressure or any more pressure than say advocacy, Marketing, or any of that kind of thing.

It’s just different. And the nature of it is such. They have to be on top of hitting numbers all the time. We kind of all do in, in certain respects, but, it’s their livelihood. And so if you can come at it in a way that helps them understand that you’re there to help them do more of that, they’re likely

More willing to be reciprocal and, collaborate and, It’s it’s, I don’t say that to give any sales organizations, a bad rap whatsoever, furthest thing from the truth, totally necessary. And, and I’ve managed salespeople and I’ve worked with salespeople before, so it’s, but it always works better when, when we’re on the same page and collaborating.

[00:12:40] **Sam:**
Yeah, that’s a great point. And so it also sounds like, con as you know, customer marketers advocate, marketers, would you say that the first step, you know, most likely has to be taken by, us as advocate marketers, you know, is that fair to say, because otherwise sales is just going to be heads down, like, you know, trying to hit their numbers, like, right.

But yeah, what, what’s your take on that?

[00:13:01] **Nick:**
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, to the extent you can make it, a more holistic kind of approach with sales, it’s kind of a broad question in the sense that if I’m an advocate marketer in a company, I don’t know, am I, am I in a leadership role as an advocate marketer? Or am I. You know, more of a, on a practitioner and I have a boss and whatever else, and maybe it’s, I need to get back up from my boss so that the message is actually heard when I crossed departments to make an ask of the sales team or ask for collaboration or whatever else.

So, I mean, ideally it would come from the top down this kind of. idea of collaboration, not just between advocacy marketing and sales, but across a whole organization. you know, everybody needs to collaborate in a positive way for the organization to be successful. So I think if it can come from the top down that’s ideal, and then that makes it easier for anyone to insert, Hey, this is the executive vision of how we work together internally.

Let’s all get on board and let’s, let’s make some positive things happen. but if that’s not the case, I would say to the, probably the best thing you can do is, is, get the buy-in of at least one person. if you’re an individual advocate marketer and you’ve got a good, rapport with, with a particular salesperson.

And you can say, Hey, what kind of deals are you working on? What, what, what kind of things do you need from customer stories? if you can go and source a few of those, basically start with a small experiment, source a few of those. See how it works, prove it out.

Then, if you prove it out, they get some sales, they get their commissions. I mean, your praises are going to be sung a little bit farther and wider than they were previously. that’s, just how you build momentum. that’s, that’s how you start from the ground up, especially if you don’t have higher leadership buy-in And it’s coming from the top down. but ideally it’s, it’s coming.

It’s going in both directions.

[00:15:02] **Sam:**
I love that point in, and also, you know, getting the recognition, right. Cause like we’re all sort of, you know, in our own careers, Our own, it’s like the start-up of you, right? You, you have to kind of figure out how to, you know, progress and, and promote and drive value and kind of get noticed. And it seems like, it seems like what you’re saying is a really quick way in, for an advocate.

Marketer is. and yes, ideally it comes top down, but if an advocate marketer who’s listening, they can do a gap analysis, figure out where the gaps are in customer stories. by talking to the sales team, facilitate getting a couple of quick wins, producing those there’s customer stories that are missing strategically.

You know, the results will be there it’s, it’s great. it’s great branding for you and great results for it, for the organization Is that, is that,

[00:15:56] **Nick:**
Yeah. Yeah. I would agree with that. I mean, I feel like so much in, the corporate world and not really just corporate world. That’s just a lot of my experience. I’m just saying in general, you have to prove it before people start really paying attention. You know, like the old, the infomercials where everything’s in black and white someone’s fumbling with something.

And then all of a sudden the picture is in color now, and there’s a solution okay, you just proved to me that this product works or that’s the idea. As you were talking, even if you aren’t in a position to do it all yourself, if you can do that gap analysis to see where there’s a gap and even just present.

And propose a plan for a small experiment to help with that GAP, to your supervisor and get their buy-in. Now you might have a little bit more backing to make something happen, or at least execute on that small experiment and, and prove it out. then from there, hopefully you have a good relationship with, with a supervisor If that works, now that supervisor can tell their supervisor, because every boss has a boss until you get all the way up the chain. then, you know, if it’s proving out, maybe, maybe then some of the momentum starts to come back down from the executive level to say, Hey, I think we need to double down on this or triple down on this.

[00:17:23] **Sam:**
I want to ask you about how, you know, customer storytelling and kind of customer advocacy priority. Know, perhaps shift depending on, the size and the stage of the company. you know, in the past couple of years it seems like. you know, more customer marketers, more advocate, marketers or roles are being created than ever. And what used to be very like oh, like very enterprise only, like it’s slowly but surely like getting down into, you know, mid-market smaller companies are, are focusing more on, on advocacy. when it used to be very much like, oh, we don’t need to worry about that until we’re enterprise company. well, that, that’s my, that’s my understanding.

So if you think that is the case, I I’d love to hear your thoughts on, yeah. How does it change? How does customer advocacy change? depending on the, size and the stage of the company, particularly what can smaller you know, you know, SMEs or startups even learn from customer advocacy, that has traditionally maybe been executed at the enterprise level.

[00:18:29] **Nick:**
Yeah, no, that’s a good question. And I. I truly believe that that’s, it has started kind of well, and it makes some sense with enterprise-level organizations that can afford to build out teams to, to do this sort of work, whereas a startup or a small business, you might have one to 10 people, or maybe it’s a 50-person small business.

They probably have one person who’s Doing marketing and that person might even be doubling as a sales person or something like that, you know? So, so, just the bandwidth of people is usually spread a little bit more thinly than, than in a larger organization where you have individuals who might specialize in particular areas.

I’ll again, give kind of a state of, I think. The recent years and in the spotlight, that’s been put on customer advocacy and customer marketing. So as, as COVID. hit a lot of times what happened, there was many businesses and their economies to keep their own businesses alive and well started to shift and change as a result of the pandemic.

And so I think what a lot of organizations, and unfortunately, a lot of organizations lost a lot of business. Because they couldn’t be open or whatever else. so they lost the opportunity for new customers and new, dollars to flow through their organization from, from new sales. But what it, what it did do is it put a focus on, oh, I have this pool of current customers that if I can retain them, especially in SaaS business where it’s recurring revenue,

You know, that recurring revenue could help Keep things afloat until we can figure out a pivot or whatever needs to happen to, to move the business forward in a new direction based on economic circumstances. and so, so I think that was, a natural, well, an unnatural phenomenon, that, nobody saw coming, but, It was a natural reaction maybe to, that happening.

So people started to double down and triple down on, on their current customers and realizing that, Hey, it’s easier to keep a customer than, than get a new customer. My current customer, isn’t fully using all the offerings that we have. So now I can focus on upsell, cross-sell and probably land those sales a little bit easier than trying to find brand-new sales.

And so I think that’s where this more recent focus in the last couple of years on customer marketing. And you’re starting to see like tons and tons of organizations have these kinds of roles available and not just in B2B, but B2C and other organizations. So to your point to your question, And it is a lot of a larger organizations, but more and more smaller organizations are seeing what the larger organizations are doing and saying, oh, that looks like it’s useful and is making sense.

And it, I should probably be doing some level of that. then that’s the question. how do I do that at a smaller scale with effectiveness? If my, goal is to among my customers scale this idea of. Brand loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing. for a smaller business, it’s a matter of picking some things that work.

There are some principles that are universal. most customers want to have success with whatever product or service you’re offering as quickly as possible. that’s part of why they’re buying. So helping them onboard really well. To be able to use your product and have success with it right away, and validate their decision to purchase from you with time to value, as they, as they go through that.

Make sure that that is working Your customers are just getting the value you’ve promised them from, from what you sell. then from there, you can start to insert some things, that are more of a customer advocacy nature. it could be as, easy as. a customer community, you know, it doesn’t have to necessarily be fancy.

I I’m, I’m all about, like, there are great tools that can automate and do all sorts of great things, but there are also basic tools that if you have a good strategy on how you use them can be effective. So, you know, a Facebook community, a LinkedIn community, or whatever of gesture customers, so they can start to interact and answer questions of each other of their peers.

You can insert, you know, valuable information to them, share some of the other customer success stories that are happening because a lot of customers want to understand, what is that customer doing? They’re having success. What are they doing with your product that I’m not doing that maybe I’m missing out on the same kind of success?

There are little things like that. then as a, as an advocate marketer, as. those Community and those, interactions are taking place among peers. How can you capture some of that and leverage some of that, for, for the business or how can sales then take some of those positive comments and whatever else and insert them in their talk track as they’re selling to a prospect.

That just all starts to build on itself. So I think from a smaller organizations standpoint, it’s, it’s finding one or two areas where. You can think through how does this benefit the customer? And that’s probably the key keep customer centric. How do I benefit the customer first to help them be successful in whatever they do without even necessarily mentioning your product, but how can I help them be successful?

How can I specifically help them be successful with our products? And then from there. You know, how can I recognize them? So that’s the, that’s the other side of it is once they have success as an organization, how can you put them on a pedestal to recognize them and make them feel good that they made the right decision, and, and have some success.

So I think even an email list can, can kind of do that. It’s not quite as back and forth interactive as like a community or a forum. but just regularly reaching out and doing shout outs of your customers, be like, Hey, Joe Schmoe had awesome success with this last week. We saw it in the news.

Congratulations. Keep on keeping on, you know, you’re doing the best thing. And I mean, that just. Hits peoples as an individual, you know, they, they, people want to be recognized. They want to stand out for doing positive things and have been successful in their roles. And then if they’re successful as an individual, the company they work for is going to see that success and it’s, it’s going to have a trickle effect there. And then you and your organization. get, get some recognition by association because of their success, but you got to put that focus on them. So I’ll pause the hair. That was a long-winded answer with a lot, a lot in it, but I hope that helps a little bit.

[00:25:43] **Sam:**
I love that. One of the big takeaways for me, and even for us at testimonial hero is progress, not perfection, right? Like, you know, you can get a ton done with just a you know, like a lightweight kind of customer advisory board. That’s yearly remote situation. Like whether it’s email LinkedIn groups. I love that. we talked about. strategy earlier. And I want to circle back to that. you know, we talked a little bit about, you know, gap analysis, but it is, is it, is it really, is it, is it that simple or how do you think about it? Like, if I’m a marketer listening to this,

I’ve decided that I want to, you know, in specifically for customer story, so I’ve decided I want to create, four or 5, 6, 10, More customer stories. How do you think about, you know, setting in determining them, you know, our customer story?

[00:26:35] **Nick:**
If you have historical data at all, like if you’ve done some level of this in the past, that can be really helpful as just a baseline, understanding. Now, if you’re starting from scratch, you’ve never done it before. You don’t really have, a strategy around customer stories, then, then it might take some creative thinking.

And in that, in that case, I mean, I guess the way I would start is. In your organization, talk to those folks who have the, the, probably the best relationships with the customer. So maybe it’s customer success reps. You know, if you’re looking in a software organization or, or maybe it is a, an account executive or a sales rep, even, I mean, it could be any one of those people who engage on front lines with customers on a regular basis, they’ll be able to tell you, of those interactions that they have.

Which customers really stand out, as sort of having the right mindset for your, your brand. If that makes sense. I, I don’t know really how else to explain that, but they’ll, they’ll be able to have enough information and enough of a relationship with the customer to be able to say, you know what, this customer might actually fit for a customer testimonial.

For what you’re thinking. So understanding who among your customer base, like doing some sort of analysis to say, like, who would be most likely, like, who would our sales are or CSMs nominate as ideal customers to represent our brand to other prospect customers or other current customers, even for that matter.

So I think that’s a, that’s a place to start, especially on a w w if you’re a smaller business and you’re on a small scale. you’re probably closer to the customers. You probably know who they are more so than a larger organization, personally. So I would start there and then just get an idea of those kinds of customer stories and then what you want to focus on.

So this is where the strategy comes into play. So look at. Your organization where the organization’s going, what are their goals where they want to go? In terms of sales? Are they looking to break into a particular industry or segment? And do you have any current customers that are happy and successful enough with your product that are in those industries or segments that you could start to build essentially a roster of who you would like to approach, for that.

But again, you have to make, when you do finally approach a customer, you have to make it worth their while and beneficial. So one of the ways I think about that, Those who often want to speak as in testimonials or at a conference or whatever on behalf of their experience with your product. Typically, our people.

Care about their personal brand for their career purposes. And so this is an opportunity to add that feather and recognition in their cap, on their journey. So I think that kind of appeals, that kind of recognition. That’s one of the go-to ways that we, we appeal to a lot of people. instead of asking them, we want to present them with the opportunity to.

I have another experience that, that showcases them as an expert and a thought leader in their industry and with this particular product, that they can use and leverage for their own personal brand and career.

And so it’s, it’s targeting in on that individual.

And again, if they’re having success their employer who hires them is likely to enjoy that positive success as well.

And then you by association, them using your product. I kind of spun around a few different topics, but it’s all a little bit related, so I can, I can drill into any, any area you’d like.

[00:30:16] **Sam:**
Yeah, I love the, you know, the kind of shining the spotlight on them, You know, kind of celebrating their. And actually let’s dig into that. You know, one of the challenges all marketers face when we’re going for that advocacy ask is, the way we make the ask, also, you know, making, getting an agreement, right.

And, any tips you can share, you know, so, so we have one tab. first of all, ask the right people, secondly, you know, no help make it beneficial to them, make it a two way exchange of value in and let them know, or kind of hint at like, look, we’re going to promote this. We want to, you know, hold you up as a, as a kind of beacon, you know, or as a example of best practices in your industry, help the personal brand. what other kinds of tips or things have you realized around. Actually making that ask and getting,

[00:31:07] **Nick:**
Yeah. You know, I think, more than anything, the, the, the biggest aspect of it, it’s, there’s no big trick to it. it’s just, it’s a being authentic in, in what you’re doing and being very transparent with the customer. So most customers can, you know, have, have good. I’ll just call it BS detectors, you know?

If you’re being inauthentic about it in your ass, or you’re trying to sort of hide what the, the, what you’re really what your real angle is, in terms of why you’re asking, then I think that comes through usually, and, and customers might be more apprehensive, to participate, but I definitely think the transparency is.

Hugely useful and fun. Unfortunately, sometimes underrated. but that’s one of the biggest things I would say is like, Hey, here’s why we’re this. Here’s what we’re looking for. And here’s how we would go about doing that. This is an opportunity for you and your thought leadership. You know, you care about your personal brand and career.

Like if that’s a motivator for you, if it’s not, then maybe this isn’t the right opportunity for you and that’s okay. And it’s, we value your partnership and your business and want you to feel comfortable working with us. So if this isn’t the right thing, and I think that’s, that’s key too, is making sure your customers have, they’re not pressured into it, that they have that it’s their choice.

It’s totally their choice. Because as soon as you start to feel pressured into it, you hurt might not be into it. Or, you might feel like it’s just an obligation and that’s what starts to lead to burnout. If you then come back to that person and keep asking these same customers over and over, to, to be a reference customer or add a testimonial or customer video or something like that.

And then they get burnt out and then they get a bad taste in their mouth from your organization.

And now they’re leaving. Likely to really be an advocate for you, and you’ve just kind of turned them away. So it’s, it’s gotta be to their benefit transparency. And I think to just allowing people, you’re presenting the opportunity, they can choose to take it.

They can choose not to take it. And that’s totally fine. In fact, that kind of endears them a little bit more to you because you’re being human.

[00:33:36] **Sam:**
So, so many good points there. And just to underscore, you know, the the point about explaining kind of like, what you’re doing and why I think, other than, good communication and being, like you said, transparent, there, there actually is a very good, psychological reason to do that as well.

There is a just short tangent here. There’s this study called the copy machines. I think it was done, it’s in a book, Robert Cialdini, but basically it’s this idea that like, when we ask someone to do us a favor, if we provide a reason, people are just, significantly more, there’ll be, they’re going to agree just because people like to have, you know, people like to have reasons for what they do.

Right. So for example, it could be. like for us, when we always, you know, ask when we make an advocacy ask for like something like a J to review or something. We explained to them, like, this is extremely helpful to us. And like our salespeople use this on every use. These are G2 page on every single deal and like it, you know, no big deal, but if you’re open to that, I’d really appreciate it.

So like, yeah, having that explaining like the, because, or just like the reason and like just being transparent and, is a lot more appealing than being like, just asked, you know, with no further con.

[00:34:55] **Nick:**
Yeah, I’ll add to your G2, example. They wrote real quick. One of the things I found effective two is similar to what you just explained. Like. This is why we’re asking. This is why, what, what we’re after, if you choose to do this. but I often will share it back with, with the customer too and say, you know, this is also if paying forward, the experiences you’ve had is a value to you.

That’s part of how this helps other, other people who were, you know, if you remember back when you were shopping for a solution, maybe you reviewed G2 and trust radius and all these other review sites, if you had a good experience

Or really even if you didn’t have a great experience in that, that you’re trying to promote bad testimonials, but just, you don’t tell them what to write, but just like getting them to understand that, Hey, the act of putting in a review actually,

You know, helps others who might’ve been in the same situation you were in when you were shopping.

So, it it just it just kind of personalizes some of that a little bit further.

[00:36:02] **Sam:**
That is such a good point. And, I want to hit on a couple of things. I know we’re we have a hard stop coming up. So what’s shifted. Talk about different mediums, different formats of customer stories. You know, video taxed, you know, third party reviews. How do you think about all of those and maybe, you know, the pros and cons of each and kind of where things are going and trends and, you know,

[00:36:26] **Nick:**
Yeah. So, well, the first thing I think about is, the appropriate media and the appropriate sort of medium to create the messaging for that media. So, so, in other words, a basic example. So if I, if I need to.

Do some sort of postcard advertising, that’s going to get actually physically mailed to someone.

Obviously I’m probably not using video. I’m probably using copywriting, text imagery, still imagery, something that, that conveys, something that’s appropriate for that particular use in that particular media. So, in contrast, you know, if I’m trying to do something on social media, I’m probably looking at.

Some sort of native content, meaning we’re posting maybe a short video native within a LinkedIn feed, you know, uploaded right to LinkedIn versus like on YouTube and linking to it.

Or, or, or whatever the case is. And in that. Video and short text is probably a better choice than long form text, unless your goal is to draft like a blog post where you’re looking to get search engine optimization benefit from a long form, you know, thousand plus word documents.

So kind of knowing where you’re going to use the content or the stories that you’re producing, will help dictate. What’s appropriate for the audience that, that tends to view in those, those places. So you want to go where your audience is and you want to utilize, a format in those places that is accepted by the audiences who go to those places.

So, you know, online and social tends to be short. Snappy video, lots of excitement, entertainment. you know, if you’re looking, if you’re an article reader and you like blog posts and whatever else, you know, long form, if you’re doing other advertising, again, it’s probably short copy. If it’s text at all, depending on, on.

What the outcome needs to be for, for the audience. So, so that’s kind of the way I think about it from a, from a format stem standpoint where things are going in, in advocacy. I think so much more these days is well it’s online and offline experiences for sure. we’ve always had conferences in person and things, and then COVID hit.

And then now we have, we had all these virtual things and now we’re, we’re kind of coming out of. To a certain extent, and it’s kind of this virtual, or virtual hybrid, you know, in-person and virtual version of things. So it’s a little bit of everything. And I think that can be to an advantage for, advocacy, marketers and things like that because you now have, you can ha you can create an in-person experience that has a different kind of meaningful value to a customer than a virtual experience that can also have to have a very meaningful value to a customer.

But the format of how you have to deliver that just has to be different. So in some ways it makes our job maybe a little more complicated and harder because we have to manage all these formats and things. But if you do it well, you can kind of stack these things on each other. And the reach you end up getting is greater.

And also, I think communities are some, some idea of community on or offline, probably both. Is very much where things are going. And one of the reasons that’s so important is because people want to belong to a group or a tribe or something. That’s a law that has a sense of comradery and a sense of something bigger than themselves.

And what happens. I think when you get a group of people like that together, especially customers is now it takes on a third. Dynamic, which is that you’ve got, you know, the, the company and the customer and they’re interacting, you know, two ways. That’s, that’s the, the, the two dynamics. The third dynamic is now they’ve got peers in the group, so now they can interact with each other.

And now they’re starting to learn from each other without the company.

And that brings so much more value. So I, a lot of that is all here already. I just think it’s going to expand to become a lot more important and you’re gonna see a lot more of it.

[00:41:00] **Sam:**
Yeah, I love that. Such a, such a true thing. last but not least, Nick, what do you wish you knew five years ago? around, you know, customer average C customer stories or, you know, anything related to.

[00:41:15] **Nick:**
I don’t know. I was pretty excited when, when this opportunity came up for me at Ceridian, I was pretty excited. I had been doing like more social media marketing and content marketing and inbound kind of marketing. And I, I could see where this was going. And to me it was. The way I associated it was, I was like, okay, this is inbound 4.0, this is like, amazing.

So like five years ago, what would I, what would I want to know? I think I would’ve just, I would’ve told myself or anyone getting into it. Don’t be apprehensive about it. I think I had some insecurities about it initially because not a lot of people were, or it wasn’t as widely popular as it is now.

And so. It always, you always start to feel a little bit insecure. like, am I on the right path? Am I doing the right kinds of things? How do I know this is where things are going? when, when you feel like you’re a little bit of the underdog, or that’s not the main, the main thing, but the way to counter that or the way I felt like I was able to counter that was by concentrating on.

This is what I’m working on. This is what we’ve committed to in terms of trying to make this work. If we can prove this out, then we’re proving at least for our organization that it’s working and then we can, we can continue to do that. Maybe it’s not right for every organization. That’s fine, but this is where I’m at right now.

And I have the opportunity to make this work. So let’s see if we can make this work and it turns. it worked pretty well and it continues to work and I’m very grateful. but I think that that would be the biggest thing is just, a better way to get over the insecurities of not having mass mainstream, exception of what you’re doing at the moment.

[00:43:08] **Sam:**
And so you’ve heard it here, folks. If you have any doubts around customer marketing, and customer stories and advocacy, you’re in the right place.

Nick, this has been great. I really appreciate this. We might have to have a round two, sometime. Where can people get in touch with you if they want to connect or learn more about what you’re up to?

[00:43:29] **Nick:**
Yeah, absolutely. I would say LinkedIn is really the best way to do that. So it’s linkedin.com/in/NickV. I was pretty early on LinkedIn, so I got the last initial, but not my whole name.

So, LinkedIn is the best way to get ahold of me, but we can email, we can message, happy to expand the circle of network. So, happy to talk to anybody.

[00:43:52] **Sam:**
Perfect, Nick. Thanks again. Have a great rest of your day.

[00:43:56] **Nick:**
You too, Sam. Thanks so much.

[00:43:57] **Sam:**
Alright, folks. Well, that was a fantastic episode with Nick Ventrella. Just wow. Jam-packed with so many insights, from how to think about strategy, getting agreements, how advocacy and stories change different sized companies. I definitely encourage everyone to connect with Nick, follow him. He’s got a great blog. If you’re a musician, he’s got a really fantastic Etsy shop selling up-cycled guitars. Definitely check that out.

If there’s any other guests in the future that you want to have on the podcast, feel free to shoot me an email. It’s, sam@testimonialhero.com.

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