Building Advocacy w/ Kevin Lau

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This is a podcast episode titled, Building Advocacy w/ Kevin Lau. The summary for this episode is: <p>Kevin Lau joins us this week to talk about building advocacy and advocates!</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p>If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...</p><p>Jay Nathan: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Jeff Breunsbach: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p>
Advocate Nation
00:43 MIN
Content for Nurture
00:45 MIN
The Mission
00:15 MIN
The Holy Grail Mission
00:46 MIN
Focusing Around Your Community
00:47 MIN

Intro: Welcome to the Gain Grow Retain Podcast.

Jeff Breunsbach: We've got another episode of Gain Grow Retain. And today, we've got Kevin Lau, who is the Global Head of Customer Advocacy Digital Experience at Adobe. So, Kevin, we're coming coast to coast here. Appreciate you hopping on for a few minutes and talking with us today.

Kevin Lau: Yeah. No, thanks for inviting me.

Jeff Breunsbach: So we always like to start off with a curve ball question, and I did not give you any prep on this. My question for you today is, which type of barbecue do you like better? Is it from Texas, in the Midwest barbecue, or do you like a Southeast- style barbecue?

Kevin Lau: I guess I don't really have, necessarily, a preference. I've been to Texas more, so I like... I think it's more of like a dry rub, right?

Jeff Breunsbach: Yeah.

Jay Nathan: Yeah. Brisket.

Jeff Breunsbach: I think they do a little bit more brisket. Yeah. Then you get a little more beef in Texas, a little bit more pork in the South, for the most part.

Kevin Lau: Yeah. I don't have a strong preference either way, but I've been to Texas more frequently, so I tend to... I guess I'm used to that type of barbecue.

Jeff Breunsbach: I like it. I appreciate you... I'll actually ask you one more, too, just to keep this going, just because I like this. Thanks for indulging me. What's your favorite fruit?

Kevin Lau: Favorite fruit? I would probably say mangoes.

Jeff Breunsbach: Mangoes. We haven't heard mangoes yet. A lot of strawberries. I like mangoes too. Jay, what's your favorite fruit? Do you change it?

Jay Nathan: I like cherries a lot.

Jeff Breunsbach: Cherries. My wife would say that too.

Jay Nathan: Not candied cherries, but actual cherries. I think they're really good for you, too. Kevin, we were just joking. This isn't about customer marketing or advocacy or anything, it's about food. It's a food podcast.

Jeff Breunsbach: Food podcast. Awesome. Kevin, we kind of bounced around a couple of notes beforehand. I think one of the easiest places for us maybe to start, and one thing that we hear often that maybe is kind of a trigger for Jay and I these days, it's just a lot in the community... When you're out in customer success, you hear about building advocacy and building advocates as just a moment or a stopping point. It just kind of is like,"We're going to build advocates," and it's kind of a one- level, one- stop shop. But, I'm curious, how have you approached that? How do you look at that as a stepladder, or more of having different actual levels or steps that advocates can be? Because I would imagine that there's not just one level, there's multiple rungs. How do you envisioned that? How have you rolled that out at Adobe?

Kevin Lau: Yeah. A little bit of my background, too, that might be helpful. I've been at Adobe now for about four years. I came back from the market acquisition a couple of years ago. At the time, we were going through this whole transformation of publicly traded company then to private equity. For anyone that's worked at a private equity firm, you know that their biggest thing is they want to save money. They want to cut costs. They want to do everything as possible to retain the customer, grow the pipeline, grow the new logos, et cetera. Right? So we were playing in an environment where we had to be creative. We would be wear multiple hats, do all the things that would help us get the company to be profitable at the end of the day. And so I would say the community, the customer base was kind of the main driving factor that I'd like to say that that helped Marketo get acquired. And we had to start off from a situation where we had customers that really love the product, and they've been using for 10 years, they loved it inside out and they would constantly talk about how Marketo was sort of that career- defining software solution that helped define marketing operations for that space, that industry. And we had to kind of figure out like, what were some of the key ingredients that would help create these advocates for life, or these customers for life. We work very closely with customer success and other folks that work within sort of the customer experience space. I think it's more of a collaboration between customer success, marketing, sales, customer support, et cetera. And so oftentimes the way we kind of approached it in the early days was that we had sort of these like disparate programs. We had a customer reference program. We had customer stories that we're trying to pursue. We had all these kinds of things that most traditional companies think about when they're starting to build out an actual discipline around," How do you wrap your hands around your customers, showcase the successes, and help them really see the value of the purchases or the products or the services that they're purchasing?" Right? And so when you have these different programs, nothing was really solidified in a way that it made sense from a customer journey perspective, or for the actual sellers and the customer success organization. And so my initial approach to it was kind of figuring like, how do we structure this so that it actually is aligned with the customer journey. It makes sense customers understand what's the value that we provide besides just the software. And so we created something called the Advocate Nation, which we still have today. Essentially it's a portfolio of our customer advocacy programs, a line of the journey where, as people go through their onboard experience, the time that they have that renewal conversation, there's different touch points that are designed to help the customer feel appreciated, feel like they're actually getting value, help the customer success rep. You know, build those relationships. Because oftentimes, as you guys probably know, there's too many accounts that one CSM has to manage and they are kind of given the brunt force of just, they had to build the relationship, they have to take care of the renewal, they have to take care of the upsell, the cross sell. And at the end of the day, how do you actually accomplish all those things without having some type of a marketing arm or resource to help you get to that level? And so we work pretty closely with the customer success teams just to kind of develop the set of programs. And of course we work with them heavily to help promote them as well. And so we designed a series of different programs, things like the customer reference program is part of that, customer stories, our customer awards, which we call the Experience Maker Awards. We also have some elite programs around our online community, which we call the Marketing Nation. And then we also have programs like the Marketo Engaged Champion Program, which is sort of like the cream of the crop. It's the folks that are the most invested in the product and they've shown their product expertise. And it's very exclusive. And then we have other programs designed around how do we help mid- level managers or folks that are sort of that influencer level? How do we help them achieve the next role, when they're trying to become a C- suite leader, like as a CMO or Chief Customer Officer. And so we have all these different programs to kind of help them hit that next milestone, because if we help them achieve their successes by default they want to stay with us and they feel like they're part of that larger community. So that's kind of what we've started to do, early stages.

Jeff Breunsbach: Man, I loved to so many different things in there. I feel like there's so many different avenues that we could go down, but one thing that I'll say, and I'll let Jay maybe jump in here too, is throughout that entire thing, the thing that I just took as the thread is like the human human part. Like, I don't think once I hear you mentioned how it's like, we want that account or that company to be a reference for us, right? It's you were talking about how do we help them do better at their jobs? How do we help a mid- level manager? How do we... It's all about being elite or being engaged in these ways. So that's the one big takeaway for me is, how when you're thinking about this advocacy type program, it really has to be centered around the human component of it, of what's in it for that individual that they can use in their career to propel themselves, to help drive more results internally with your product. How do they go help tell that story more? All these different things. That was one thread I just took out through there. But, Jay, hop in.

Jay Nathan: No, I love that too. And we always talk about, our customers are people, they're not companies, right? Because, obviously those advocates can go to different companies and hopefully they'll take you with them when they go. So I love the mindset there. So I'm curious, Kevin, you talked about sort of that loosely affiliated or disparate set of programs, which all sounded like the right kind of things to be focused on to begin with, but can you give a little more context on, what order did you start bringing all these things together? What did you do first, second, and third? Because, frankly, we're picking your brain here too. Cause we're in that same state, we have a really loosely defined reference program and we're looking to mature that significantly over the next year. So, how can we learn from you a little bit?

Kevin Lau: Yeah. I mean, I think that where it kind of all started was that as we went through publicly trading company to private equity, the biggest concerns customers had at that time was like," Is this private equity firm going to still invest in the product? Is it going to live beyond the two or three years? And is it just going to get sold into a bigger company and that's it?" And so we had to kind of reassure customers, at the end of the day, this is something that our product needs, our investors really see value in a marketing automation solution and not breaking apart and then selling it off to different organizations and whatnot. And so I had to have a lot of conversations with customers at the end of the day. And I think that's the biggest critical thing that you probably hear all the time, which is often overlooked, is just talk to your customers and find out, what are the things that they care about? It's also kind of surprising how much product teams don't really do that. And they have this sort of like inside out perspective on just like, oh, this is what we think customers should want and what they should be using. But then when you talk to the customer, it may be completely different. And so when we had those initial conversations, it was identifying, what are the things that you care about? What are the things that are working really well with our existing communities or existing programs? How can we elevate them so that it has more of a strategic importance in your organizations or across your colleagues or other folks within your industry? And so we took a lot of that initial feedback, and I would say the key ingredient that helped us transform everything was we started to reevaluate both our community program, which was the Marketing Nation community, and how do we drive more engagement? How do we create more opportunities for customers to be celebrated and to give that elevated expertise and just that recognition. And then the second thing was, we completely re- imagined what we call our Marketo Engaged Champions. So that's a program where it used to be 60 people would be selected, they have to apply for the program. They have to do all these different requirements to be part of that. And then we went through a process of kind of transforming that completely from the ground up on how do we make it more engaging? How do we give those customers opportunities to talk to the product teams? How do we get them that white glove treatment so that they feel like they're almost sort of like our brand ambassadors and they feel like they're part of an extension of our team. And so I would say that was something that really helped shape the foundation of everything we did with related to the Advocate Nation. So more specifically we changed it from 60 people to 40 individuals. It became much more competitive and now we're actually celebrating our 10th year running the program this year. So it's kind of a big milestone for us. And the other thing that we really appreciated was that we helped to get a lot of the C- suite leaders at Marketo involved and practically talking to these customers. And so those champions, by default, they felt appreciated and they felt like their voice was being heard. Even before that, I'm probably not supposed to say this, but there was one time we had some customers that were very passionate. They actually sent this laundry list, a letter to the CEO at the time saying all their grievances and basically saying why Marketo was no longer surviving, and so they were kind of worried about that. So going from that kind of situation to now, a complete 360, where they feel loved and appreciated and validated, that's kind of like the ultimate pinnacle of what we're trying to accomplish at the end of the day.

Jay Nathan: That's awesome. On the one hand, it's good because when a group of customers get together to send you that kind of letter, it means they care enough about you...

Kevin Lau: Right.

Jay Nathan: ...To give you the feedback, although it can still be hard to digest and prioritize and get it, get it done.

Kevin Lau: Yeah. For sure.

Jay Nathan: But, what we found is that, just like what you're saying, was just like rallying around a subset of those customers and just being proactive in the way you show love to them and bring them into the decisions you're making can go a really, really long way and even buy you a lot of time to get your product where it needs to be, if it's not where it needs to be. So you started with your super high touch program and then worked down and out toward your more high volume programs? Is that how it... The flow of things?

Kevin Lau: Yeah, so kind of similar to.. So our entire suite of advocacy partners, I can kind of mention, so I mentioned we have like customer references, we have the champions, we do customer stories. We have our awards program. We also have the customer advisory board, so CAB. And then a bunch of other kind of engagement opportunities. But the champions, the reason we started with that one was because these were... To your earlier point, these are folks that are super involved. They want to be involved. They care, and they were passionate about the product already. They just need to channel their energy in the right direction. And so we helped to leverage this community of these sort of elite practitioners to help drive the engagement. And help us to essentially drive the awareness. So they would post videos on social. They would post blog posts, they would... Our entire customer adoption nurture programs. So we have sort of two sides of the equation when we think about customer marketing. So my team runs customer advocacy. So that's sort of all the things that we kind of just mentioned, but then we have another team that runs customer adoption or value realization programs. And so when you think about like, what's the experience like from a customer that goes through their onboarding journey, right? They want to know what are some of the things out of the gate that they need to be aware of? How do we, besides logging into the product, what are the one or two tips or tricks or resources that they should know, right out of the gate, to ensure that they are actually seeing value from their purchase? Right? So we actually had Marketo Engaged Champions create content for our nurture. So we put them in front and center. We said it probably makes more sense for them to hear from another customer than it does to hear from an Adobe or Marketo employee on why they should use this software, why they should use this feature and function. And so we found that by simply just having and inserting these customers into the mix, engagement went up drastically. They felt like they could speak to their peer. And it felt like it was more of a conversation, not a sales pitch or anything like that. It was just a natural thing that they were going through. And so they were more likely to absorb the content. And then we also have adoption scores for us, and the adoption scores started to increase. And then we started to develop more mature ways that we can kind of engage customers down the road.

Jeff Breunsbach: I love that so much. The idea of bringing your customers back into the customer journey and actually having, like you said, kind of those moments where you are giving them, as a champion, opportunity to do something that's engaging with essentially other customers. The other thing I think that inherently probably does, and I don't know if you can maybe tie a correlation, but maybe just by the sheer fact that I'm able to see another customer whose kind of telling me their first time to value or something that they got out of the tool first. I'm probably much more likely to go engage with them in the community as well, right? Cause I'm like," Oh, if this person's talking to me here, I wonder if I can go find that person in the community?" And then, I don't know if there's a direct correlation you could tie there, but I would imagine that that kind of has a snowball effect where, now I'm much more likely to go get engaged in the community. Because, I'm hearing from customers already throughout some of these first value realization moments, and now it's natural for me to go use that forum to see more of those or to hear more stories or to ask questions, that kind of thing.

Kevin Lau: Yeah. So we have a bunch of different sort of touch points that we try to engage them. So we have the Val online nurtures that they can be part of once they become a customer, then as sort of like a next step, we encourage them to go to our user groups. That was the other piece that I forgot to mention earlier that we manage. So there's about a hundred and something chapters globally. I think there's maybe 5, 000 members that are part of that. And then of course they have an online community that they can also participate in. So the constant we'll start to see the same individual across each of these different channels. And so they got to feel a little bit more comfortable. They know, okay, this is the so- and- so, that's an expert on this particular feature function and he's the person I can go to if I have any particular questions, or if I have questions about how to get my implementation started. What are some of the things to kind of avoid when they're going through that process? So these are things that our users will tackle. So they'll have office hours, they'll have deep dive sessions, we'll even invite partners from time to time. We'll talk about how can different integrations work with Marketo, with Adobe Solutions, to make it easier for them. And so these are kind of the things that users want to be involved in, they want to talk about. I think with COVID this year, it was a little bit more challenging because we went from an in-person setting where everyone can kind of get together in an office and have some food and talk shop. What we've actually found is that the number of user meetings increased drastically, even though people started have zoom fatigue and video conferencing fatigue, but there's still that element where they want to connect and engage with their peers. And so we saw there was a drastic increase in the number of meetings that wanted to happen just because they wanted to talk to each other. And so that was another touch point where, beyond just the digital nurtures and everything else, we still provided those opportunities for them to kind of talk to each other.

Jay Nathan: Great. You know, are your user groups geographically centered? Is that how you grew...

Kevin Lau: Originally they were based on certain cities or metropolitan cities that had the most concentration of users. And so these are all customer led user groups. And so typically it's maybe one or two customers that want to run it. And minimum requirement is they have to have at least 10 active users that want to attend their meetings. We have some chapters that have over a thousand members. We have some that have just 50. But, the main kind of similar thread is that they all love Marketo and they all love the product and they want to talk about just sort of in the weeds discussions on how can they get the most benefit from using their technology, their software. We've also started to, just over the time that we've gone through our acquisition, most of the work that we did initially was with Marketo, but now because of the work that we started to run on, we're now doing advocacy or customer marketing for the entire digital experience business at Adobe, which now represents about eight or nine solutions. So we're taking a lot of the learnings we have and creating that blueprint to then replicate it across those other eight or nine solutions. So each of them are a little bit different and you know, some of them are different customer personas like analysts and developers compared to marketers. And so the approach is slightly different, but we're taking a lot of those learnings to help influence a lot of the retention and onboarding discussions we have with customers.

Jay Nathan: The CS teams in these different solutions must love you guys because you snap into what they're trying to accomplish anyway.

Kevin Lau: Yeah. I mean, we work really closely with the folks there. It is a little bit more challenging because you're dealing with like, we went from 1500 employees at Marketo to now, like close to 25,000. So the scale is drastic, but we have some very warm, reception from a lot of these customer success folks and other individuals from the customer experience space.

Jay Nathan: So just one more question on that. How do you think about, cause you guys can't do this all yourselves. I assume your team hasn't scaled directly proportionally with all those, eight or nine solutions, you've taken on. So how do you think about getting business ownership over the initiatives, do you deputize people, do you have to recruit people? Is it sort of a mandate from the top down? How do y'all think about that and getting...

Kevin Lau: Yeah. So I would say...

Jay Nathan: ...The manpower?

Kevin Lau: The million dollar question of 2020, right? It's how do you, inaudible the one biggest air of opportunity that came from this whole pandemic is that organizations finally understood that they need to invest in their customer retention efforts. Like I mentioned a little bit earlier, they put so much emphasis on the CSM doing all that leg work from building a relationship, taking care of the renewal, taking care of any of the cross sell upsell opportunities. And inadvertently, for some reason new logo acquisition was always 75% of a company's mission and goal, right? It's like put all the resources and demand, put everything into," How can we get new logos and new customers on board, and then spend as little as possible to support the existing customer base?" I would say with COVID this year, it shifted drastically where, the number one of the number one priorities for Adobe has been customer attention. And so that put what we do as a team front and center in every single discussion going forward about how do we protect, we call it our box, our recurring book of business. Essentially, it's the retention number. And, how do we work more closely in developing that so that we can ensure that customers, they feel they're getting the value from the solutions, but how do we also at the same time create those champions or the advocates within those customer bases? Because if we have only one customer or one user in that, in that organization, there's potential risk and churn that could be involved in that. So, our mission has always been around," How do we drive deeper relationships with those customers? How do we get them to see the value? And then how do we partner with the Customer Success Organization to make sure that we're aligned and how do we approach them?"

Jeff Breunsbach: I think maybe the second million dollar question of 2020 is, something that we've heard a bunch is, how do you start tying some of the activities that you're doing with advocacy and community and all these things to business outcomes? Are you looking at like influenced revenue? What you're doing, in some of these activities and how much you're influencing? Or is it, like you said, kind of based on renewal or retention rate? Curious how you've kind of tried...

Kevin Lau: Yeah.

Jeff Breunsbach: ...To map that story out internally as well.

Kevin Lau: So I would definitely say that's either the second million dollar question or the joint question, right? So we've been fortunate that our team is a little more advanced from other customer organizations or customer marketing teams that I've seen in the past, in that we've actually built out what we call like an advocate score. And so we use Marketo really as the backbone for that and, similar to how lead scoring works, you're measuring the propensity of a cost of a lead moving down the funnel to buy more or take a meeting with the sales rep, right? We've kind of flipped it where we've created an advocate score, which takes in all the different touch points from our community, our user groups, our sales references. And we boil that into a score to help us identify, who are our best advocates? So we have an actual advocate nurture that people go through, they self identify themselves on the types of programs that they're interested in. And then the output of that, which we're still kind of building out today, is we want to be able to compare accounts that have advocates to those that don't and see what's the likelihood or the impact churn. And so that's sort of like the Holy Grail mission of what our team is trying to get after, because if we can be able to see that and we can show that to the higher ups and in all the leaders across the board, getting budget and resources would be a no brainer, right? And so I'd like to say that we've completely figured it out, but we haven't. This is sort of a work in progress model that we've started to build out last year. And then similar to that, we also have, with the adoption team, our customer adoption team, they're also using the adoption score. And they're also looking at their impact to that inaudible number to help show how much protected revenue their programs have driven for the business.

Jeff Breunsbach: Yeah. That's great. So we are asking ourselves... Again, it's not the Holy Grail question, but I think one question that I'm trying to get our teams to answer right now is if we have a customer, or if we have a contact who is engaged in our community, how likely are they to renew? Or, in the past, how likely has that made them to renew? And if they're more engaged in the community, does that make them more likely to renew? But I'm just trying to boil it down to a very simple question. And I know in some cases it's not going to be statistically relevant or there's not going to be the right measures around it, but at least can we at least get directionally like, hey, if they're in the community, we can see that it actually leads to better outcomes for us as a business? Because again, I think there's even that little simple of a directional story, I think is just helpful to gather momentum and get people excited. You know, it's not going to help us maybe drive business decisions, but it's going to help us drive the people and the momentum that we can get internally to say, Hey, when we actually invest in this, look what can happen and look at the results that come. And I think people sometimes maybe miss out on that because they're a little bit too worried about, Hey, what's our actual ROI and can I go defend this to the CEO or the CFO? And, again, that is definitely needed at some point down the line, but I think sometimes missing that first question can stall momentum. And then you don't have employees internally wanting to fight for something like this as well.

Kevin Lau: Yeah. A hundred percent. I think historically it's always been sort of nice to have you see. Maybe it's not on your CEO's mind where they think," Oh, community engagement. It's great. It's nice to have. It's something that we want to continue to foster and build." But I think the other thing, when we start to think about like, how do you create real customers for life? And a lot of times a customer will move from job to job over the every two or three years. Right? And so, where they in one situation they might be working for a small organization where maybe the dollar value of that account is relatively low, maybe it's like$20, 000,$30,000, but that customer has been using your software for, let's say 10, 15 years. They're already invested in it. They see the value. And eventually when they start looking for that next job, they might become a VP at Morgan Chase or something like that. When now they have much more impact in driving bigger decisions, creating more value for your subscriptions. And so I think, regardless of the size of that organization, the size of that customer, similar to how one conversation that happens in community may not mean that much, but it creates a snowball effect. And I think it's something that will take time. It might take a couple months, might take a year, it might take a couple of years, but eventually you're going to start to see that outcome and that impact drastically influence your bottom line. And I think if you can start to get your executive stakeholders to think in those terms, rather than just, that next transaction value, that's when they start to see that transformation or they start to see that growth that that really happens.

Jay Nathan: It's almost like you can feel it before you can measure it,

Kevin Lau: Right, exactly.

Jay Nathan: It's like you can feel customers rallying around topics and getting engaged and you see it happening, but then to quantify it is a whole different thing. And I think to your point, to the point Jeff was making, when we get into these conversations that demand precision, and it sort of blows the whole thing up before it becomes a snowball. I love the analogy there. It's just rolling down the hill on its own. I love the idea of the advocate score, by the way. Can you comment a little bit more on how tactical y'all are doing that?

Kevin Lau: Yeah, so I mentioned we use Marketo as sort of like the mechanism to take all these different data points. So we look at, we have integrations with like Salesforce, for our users we use something called beBee, which is a community engagement platform. And so we look at attendance on user group meetings and look on how does that tie back to the accounts that we're working with? And so by doing so we get all this aggregated data and then we're able to see which of our accounts have advocates that we work with closely. And so we look at different touch points on, are they applying for a champion program? Did they win a customer award? Did they do a case study or do a testimony with us? Did they do a reference call? It's all these different touch points then aggregates into... We weigh it based on certain levels. And so maybe winning an award might be worth more than doing a reference call or vice versa. So all those different touch points then help us determine what is our overall impact from an advocate standpoint. And then how is it influencing that particular account? How does it influence different segments we work with? So we of course have a growth segment and then our enterprise segment, which is the larger accounts. And then we can sort of see our influence over time. And then the nurture is sort of tied to that too. So as people go through our nurture, they self identify themselves, as I kind of mentioned earlier, and then through that process, then we're able to help grow and aggregate that score to have a greater impact.

Jeff Breunsbach: Is there any, when you think about those programs... And I don't know how many different, nurtures or campaigns do you think you have running at any given time? If you had to throw out a number? I don't know if you know the exact...

Kevin Lau: Yeah. I mean, at least from a customer standpoint, we typically have one main advocate nurture that we're running and then we're eventually going to segment it where we have two different nurtures. So one that's sort of a phase one or it's folks that are just getting sort of acclimated to the idea of working more closely with Adobe, from an advocacy standpoint. And then a phase two, which is more for advanced users where they can kind of take an advocate quiz, if you want to think of it that way, where they can self identify themselves, but they could say if they'd been a little bit more invested or they've been around a little bit longer. And so then we'll serve up certain types of opportunities based on that persona, that individual.

Jeff Breunsbach: Yeah.

Kevin Lau: And then of course we have the adoption nurtures that are ongoing since the time that they actually go through that whole onboarding experience.

Jay Nathan: That's all running in Marketo?

Kevin Lau: Yeah. So we're using Marketo as sort of the backbone for everything.

Jay Nathan: Do you have, this is super tactical, but do you have a member of your team who has access and who's actually driving those campaigns out of your organization?

Kevin Lau: Yeah, so we have, I guess there's a couple of folks. So one, they actually called it the name of acronyms she gives herself is CROP. So customer retention operations or CROPs for short.

Jay Nathan: Cool, I like it.

Kevin Lau: So it's slightly different from the traditional marketing operations role or MOPs role, where they're merely focused on Demand Gen and the MarTech stack and all that, but she's helping to support it more from the customer lens and making sure that we have a seat at the table when technology discussions are happening that are going to influence customers, but also making sure that we have sort of a governance model in place when we're sending out communications to customers. Because oftentimes you might get Demand Gen emails, you might get promotional emails, customer emails, and then everything kind of gets too inundated. And then the customer wants and unsubscribe. So just kind of basic stuff like that to ensure that we're maintaining a healthy database.

Jay Nathan: That's great. We're a Marketo customer at Heart Logic. So...

Kevin Lau: Oh, nice.

Jay Nathan: ...It gives me great hope that we can accomplish this advocate program out of that platform instead of with the others.

Jeff Breunsbach: Well, one other question I wanted to maybe throw in there too. I know Kevin you've clearly spent a long time doing this. So I would say a lot of our community members out there are leading kind of B2B, SAS, customer success organizations, they're maybe thinking about advocacy programs for the first time. So if you had to go back to before you were able to kind of put this into systems and get sophisticated with Marketo and all this stuff, like what would you tell them just to get started, kind of zero to one almost. How do you just get this off the ground if you're just trying to identify advocates or just trying to think about this program and getting off the ground? I don't know if you've got any early thoughts to leave with some of our folks.

Kevin Lau: I mean, I would say a lot of... Usually if they're getting started, what they might have previously is like a list of advocates that might exist on a spreadsheet. Right? I mean, that's like a simple, basic thing. And oftentimes it ends up being a part- time role for someone where it's like, if they have any spare time, let's start to build up a list of advocates that can then do different things for us. Whether it's like speak at events, customer references, you name it. I think the way that you start to get the initial buy- in to get that as a particular role that gets filled is you start to have those conversations with your C- suite leaders. And just describe like, especially with COVID going on, the emphasis on reinventing yourselves from a customer standpoint, to show that you appreciate your customers and you want to do more and actually invest particular program dollars behind, it is what's going to start to move the needle to help retain customers, and also help you to acquire new customers down the road. So usually off the bat, most customers are more, most organizations start with some type of customer reference program and they do customer stories as sort of a by- product of that. But I don't think you necessarily need to limit yourself between those two camps. I think oftentimes if you start to do it, just those two, you also get pigeonholed into being sort of like an order taker, or an individual that just kind of fulfills tickets and things from your sellers and whatnot. I think if you want to move towards more of a transformational impact in a role, it has to be focused around your community. And so whether it's to elevate the importance of your community, or to create sort of that elite champion inaudible, if you want to call it that. It could be sort of a hybrid of a CAB, if you will. But I think investing in that type of program is going to start to create that dividend. Because it can help fulfill a lot of different other asset requirements down the road. And it doesn't even have to be big, could just start with like 15, 20 customers. But, if you give them that white glove service, that's when it's going to start to take off from there.

Jeff Breunsbach: Yeah. I love that. I think that's also been a theme we picked up earlier on too, which is you focused on smaller number, higher quality, is what I picked up from that, right? Focusing on them first, because that's where you're going to get kind of the amplification to really start from. And those are the voices that people are going to maybe closely associate themselves with as well. I think that's another thing that we think about often, especially in the customer success world we're coming from, is which customers might reference one another? And that's really why you want to start segmenting customers and giving them similar experiences. Because, I want to give Kevin and Adobe an experience that then Google wants, or whoever else is on that same page. Right? And so I often think about that too, how that comes into play a lot. Awesome. Well, Kevin, we always like to give people... We like to build people up on our podcast podcasts. So is there anywhere you like to do any writing or do you tweet a lot, or do you write on LinkedIn? Like where should people go follow you if they're interested in finding you?

Kevin Lau: I'm not the best tweeter, but I probably post the most content on LinkedIn. So that's probably where they could probably connect with me the most.

Jeff Breunsbach: Awesome. Kevin Lau, on LinkedIn. And look for the Global Director of Customer Advocacy and Visual Experience at Adobe. So perfect. Kevin, thanks a lot for taking the time. We'll do this again soon.

Kevin Lau: Yeah. Well, thanks again. Appreciate it.

Jay Nathan: Thanks Kevin. Hey guys, thanks so much for taking the time to listen to the Gain Grow Retain podcast. If you liked what you heard, please take a moment and share the podcast with your friends and colleagues and subscribe. We really appreciate it. Talk to you soon.


Kevin Lau joins us this week to talk about building advocacy and advocates!

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Today's Host

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Jeff Breunsbach

|Director of Customer Experience at Higher Logic
Guest Thumbnail

Jay Nathan

|Chief Customer Officer at Higher Logic

Today's Guests

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Kevin Lau

|Global Head of Customer Advocacy, Digital Experience