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Paper info: The Practices and Functions of Customer Reference Marketing - Leveraging Customer References as Marketing Assets

Title


The Practices and Functions of Customer Reference Marketing - Leveraging Customer References as Marketing Assets

Authors


Anne Jalkala
Lappeenranta University of Technology
Finland
Anne Jalkala and
Risto T. Salminen
Lappeenranta University of Technology
Finland
Risto T. Salminen

Place of Publication


The paper was published at the 25th IMP-conference in Marseille, France in 2009.

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Abstract


This multiple-case study focuses on the practices and functions of customer reference marketing, and on the ways through which customer references can be deployed as marketing assets.The research is based on multiple-case-study methodology and the empirical findings were derived from an in-depth analysis of 38 semi-structured personal interviews with managers in four case companies operating in the fields of process and information technology. The findings show that industrial suppliers are able to leverage their customer references as marketing assets externally through various practices in order to (1) gain status-transfer effects from reputable customers, (2) signal passing a selection process and achieving an enhanced market position, (3) concretize and demonstrate complex solutions, and (4) provide indirect evidence of their experience, previous performance, technological functionality, and delivered customer value. Customer references can also be leveraged internally to (1) facilitate organizational learning, (2) advance offering development, (3) motivate personnel through internally shared success stories, and (4) develop understanding of customer needs, internal competencies, and delivered customer value. By identifying the practices and functions related to customer reference marketing the paper deepens understanding of this highly relevant but relatively under-researched industrial marketing phenomenon and contributes to the literature on customer-based marketing assets.