It’s a no brainer that customer references speak volumes and make your story more believable, right? But has trying to capture them felt like nothing short of rocket science?
Maybe it’s a matter of too much red tape that you don’t want to deal with, or that your marketing team is already over-allocated with work? Whatever the reason, failing to collect customer references is a lost golden opportunity for your business.
Customer testimonials and case studies are now considered the most effective content marketing tactics, identified by 89% and 88%, respectively, of B2B marketers. 
So how do you get a customer reference program to really take off? It can actually be easy, in just a few simple steps:
Launchpad: Take Ownership and Design a Simple Program
It is going to take a lot of push and pull with your teams to get customer references, so be sure that the program guidelines are simple. Keeping it to one page, outline why it is a valuable program, the benefits, the how to (process), and the types of reference programs available. It will enable you to create accountability and clarify responsibilities, ensuring a great story will not get lost in space.
The Countdown Begins: Consistently Promote the Program
Now that you have everything concisely outlined, assume no one is going to take action on it. You have to promote it, and get sales leaders engaged and accountable to request with their clients. Work within your company guidelines, but if you can – make it fun for the sales teams to bring you stories. Even work with leadership to add these references to sales team goals and performance objectives.
Ready for Liftoff: Ask the Right Questions at the Right Time
It doesn’t make sense to request a testimonial when a project is still in development. Make your ask after the customer has received the final product, implemented a solution, or achieved a significant business win. The closer people are to completing a goal, the happier they are with your contribution.
When the time is right, give the customer a heads-up and get on a quick 30-minute call to review a basic template of relevant questions. Do your homework before and after the call as well, and keep output short and to the point.
Out-of-this-World Exposure: Get the Story Out There
What’s the point of capturing a great story if you are not telling it? With so many marketing channels available today, a solid testimonial can be impactful in a countless number of ways at little to no cost to you.
Keep in mind, though, that sometimes even the best advocate has limitations, which can span confidentiality agreements to other legalities. Some organizations will jump at the chance to have their name out there in a featured success story, but others won’t or can’t. Offer several options to incorporate input, including a blind story where the customer name is not stated (but the experience is fully explored and insight provided).
As you can see, an effective customer reference program doesn’t require some complicated rocket science approach, yet it can quickly launch your marketing efforts toward greater sales results. A business with a legion of advocates has a huge competitive advantage, but it all starts with collecting those testimonials that can reach your target in a way that other marketing flight plans simply cannot.