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Customer Marketing Framework

November 22, 2023

In something that shouldn’t come as a surprise, McKinsey research found that 83% of CEOs “look to marketing to be a major driver for most or all of a company’s growth agenda.” Of course, as we all inevitably find out, not all marketing campaigns deliver great results. With tight marketing budgets, marketers need to develop strategies that will drive ROI and help a business grow.

Whether we’re talking about B2B or B2C companies, customers prefer to do business with those that make them feel understood and valued. One way companies can build positive relationships with their customers is through customer marketing (also called customer-based or customer-focused marketing or customer advocacy). 

In this article, we will examine what goes into an effective customer marketing plan and how you can begin building your own scalable B2B customer marketing framework. 

What Is B2B Customer Marketing?

B2B customer marketing can be defined as a marketing approach that primarily appeals to a company’s existing customers (rather than prospects). Instead of trying to cast a wide net to attract and engage as many prospective customers as possible, customer marketing strategies focus on turning existing customers into brand champions. Champions quickly become an extension of the business if properly positioned. Building customer relationships beyond the typical transactional exchange empowers customers to tell their story for the business. This creates a mutual sense of trust within the market and mutual benefit for the customer and business growth. 

What Is an Example of Customer Marketing?

One example of a  B2B customer marketing strategy is soliciting reviews and referrals from current customers. It shouldn’t be hard to imagine why these practices are so effective. Of course, standard reviews, referrals, or testimonials are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what customer marketing can look like, and what it can accomplish.

If your idea of a customer testimonial is just a blurb on your website, for example, you could take it to the next level by engaging with the customer in the form of a podcast appearance or video testimonial. This way, prospects can see, hear, and relate to current customers who are telling their own stories in their own words. If a prospective customer is on the fence about working with your brand, well-produced customer content can make the difference between winning and losing a deal.

This type of enhanced testimonial can build much more trust among customers who are increasingly skeptical of company-produced marketing materials. Not only that, but hearing success stories from other customers (rather than from a salesperson or marketer) can also showcase your company’s ability to listen to their customers, understand their needs, develop collaborative solutions, and so on. 

How Do You Create a Marketing Framework with Customers at Its Center?

No two marketing frameworks will be identical, especially when it comes to customer marketing. Above virtually everything else, the keys to an effective framework are that it…

  • Begins with a deep understanding of a company’s customers, including their priorities and expectations. It’s often effective to create different customer segments or personas of diverse customers so strategies can be appropriately tailored to their needs.
  • Defines and works toward objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based (known as SMART objectives). Without clear, easily-measured goals it can be challenging to know whether certain strategies are working or not.

Creating a Basic Customer Marketing Framework: Step-By-Step

The best marketing frameworks are those that are customer-centered, data-powered, and repeatable. Here’s a high-level, four-step framework you can use to begin developing your own B2B customer marketing program:

Step 1: Develop a Healthy Obsession with Customer Relationships

Too often, customer marketing is used as a buzzword rather than a specific strategy. You would be hard-pressed to find a company willing to say they don’t value customer relationships. Customer relationships cannot be faked, though—they take time, effort, and attention to develop. How important are customer relationships? The short answer is “very”. In fact, according to one study, a whopping 94% of customers say “a positive customer service experience encourages them to continue buying from the same brand.” But how does a brand convince new customers to enter the fold? Nielsen found that a majority (88%) of consumers “[trust] recommendations from people they know, above all other forms of marketing messaging.”

Companies that are serious about customer marketing need to commit to building honest relationships with their customers, learning about what motivates their customers and fostering a long term strategy to grow the business together. 

Step 2: Create Content that Showcases Great Customers

Earlier, we discussed the customer marketing example of soliciting reviews from customer advocates. In addition to reviews, other types of share-worthy, compelling customer marketing content include:

  • Case Studies
  • Customer Events
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Newsletters
  • Reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Social Media Engagement

Step 3: Enable Company-wide Access and Promotion of Customer Assets

If a company devotes time and energy to creating a wide range of compelling resources but no one sees them, it can seriously hinder their customer marketing efforts. As you create content, make sure to have a place in place to enable your Sales team and other customer facing roles to have access to the content. So many times content is outdated or hard to find. Make it accessible and top of mind for the entire business.

Step 4: Ask Loyal Customers for Referrals

As mentioned previously, customer referrals are among the most impactful forms of not only customer marketing, but marketing in general. Nothing against your marketing department, but nothing a marketer can say is likely to carry the weight of a customer referral. That being said, if your brand has truly developed an obsession with customer relationships, then some referrals will naturally occur. For mature brands ready to take a more proactive approach, creating a customer advisory board—essentially a think tank solely focused on building, understanding, and maintaining customer relationships—could be the answer.

When a customer talks positively about your brand, it’s not just a testament to the quality of your product or service—it’s a testament to your ability to understand customers’ needs and develop solutions that keep their needs at the forefront.

It’s safe to assume that the number of companies who understand the importance of customer referrals is higher than those who effectively use customer referrals as an element of their marketing strategy. After all, there are several challenges to overcome, such as:

  • Uncertainty around how to effectively segment customers
  • Difficulty in identifying the best candidates for referrals
  • A lack of clarity around the most essential touch points within the customer experience, and taking the right actions at the right time to cultivate loyalty over time.
  • Avoiding the temptation to ask the same customers for reviews or referrals, leading to customer fatigue (and lessened participation).

Orca understands the importance of customer marketing—as well as the challenges it presents. With that understanding firmly in mind, our platform was designed to make customer marketing easier, with a collection of tools for customer marketing, reference management, and more. In addition, Orca can help streamline workflows for developing customer understanding and advocacy. This means you can spend less time digging through your CRM looking for ideal candidates and more time engaging with loyal customers, listening to their stories, and spreading the word. 

Customer Advocacy, Simplified—That’s Orca

This blog has only scraped the surface of everything our platform is capable of. If you’re ready to learn more, you can read about the slate of features that help companies optimize their customer marketing programs here, or click the Book a Demo button to schedule some time to talk.

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