Four Customer Marketing Lessons from SCE 2019

Russ Somers
March 20, 2019

Four Customer Marketing Lessons from SCE 2019

The Summit on Customer Engagement (SCE) is the premier event in the country for Customer Marketing and Customer Advocacy professionals. Of course the TrustRadius team was there. Customer marketers are typically outnumbered by other functions such as demand gen, content marketing, search, product and field marketing, etc. on a typical marketing team. At SCE, though, customer marketers were truly with their ‘tribe.’

So attendees let their guard down and shared with extraordinary openness. There were many great lessons, but four stood out:

Customer Marketing, as a function, must market itself.

Our organizations need to understand what we do and why it matters. Mark Levy of Levy Innovation (and coach to Simon Sinek) led a session on “How to talk about your job so that people care.” Although metrics matter, Levy pointed out, passion sells. So he advocated identifying the “proud moments” we’ve achieved as customer marketing superheroes.

Those can be professional moments, such as a rescued customer, or personal ones, such as a marathon completed. Either way, Mark suggests, focus on the pride in the moment, not on the process of the long road to get there. That passion affects how we talk about our jobs and ourselves, and helps us communicate the value of what we do.

Marketing can be more effective when it’s structured around the customer, not around more abstract concepts such as product lines or geographies.

TIBCO CMO Thomas Been discussed his non-traditional but effective approach to marketing in a fireside chat moderated by TrustRadius CEO Vinay Bhagat.


“I started from the perspective of capturing the voice of the customer to help TIBCO’s awareness, demand generation and conquering new customers,” said Been. “What I found out is that Marketing needs also to understand, represent, act for the benefit of the customer. Who else will walk in their shoes? Then you can feed sales, customer success, product, and other functions across the company. It’s one thing being focused on customers. You need to provide value. And you need to move as quickly as your customers.”

Been elaborated on how his team the voice of the customer to enable everything from demand generation to product strategy to churn risk mitigation for TIBCO. That customer voice is captured, leveraged, and analyzed by the TrustRadius platform. 

To get respect and impact the business, get closer to revenue by focusing on adoption.

Marketo’s Julie Perino has scaled up a powerful customer marketing team. She shared some of her secrets in one of the conference’s most enlightening sessions. She began where most customer marketers do. Building reference programs, uncovering customer case studies, driving customer engagement, and leveraging customer voice throughout the buyer’s journey were the first steps.

However, she’s built a more effective program than many by focusing on product and feature adoption as a key metric. This was a controversial step. As she said, “Connecting the dots between adoption and at-risk revenue gets executive attention.” Her team now measures adoption, runs community programs to improve it, uses review content to identify product gaps, and uses intent data to identify at-risk customers. Julie’s calculated risk is paying off. Under her leadership, the team is driving higher retention rates and becoming a key part of the business.

Customer Voice is more powerful than Marketing Voice.

Two speakers made this point exceptionally well. Perino, in her session, observed that “Peer-generated content plays well because it’s not us talking at them, it’s our customers looking at themselves in the mirror.”

Lauren LeRoy of Alation struck a similar note. She contrasted a PR professional’s crafted words with the plainer, more powerful words of a customer in the construction industry. “Your sales team is the expert on what you sell,” said LeRoy. “The customer is the expert on what they buy—and those are the words that persuade them.”

The Summit on Customer Engagement is becoming a must-attend event for customer marketers. We’re already looking forward to attending next year. Were you there? If so, what were your key takeaways?

About the Author

Russ Somers
Russ was an early customer of TrustRadius and found it to be a powerful platform for driving growth, so he’s a natural fit to lead the marketing team. Russ has led marketing teams for high-growth startups including TrendKite, Invodo, and sonarDesign, and he started his marketing career with Fortune 500 companies. He spends his spare time with his family, as well as collecting and restoring vintage guitars.