5 Essential Questions To Ask Yourself Before Launching An Advocacy Program

Kaitlin Ross

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably put in the research and are ready to start investing in advocacy.

Congratulations for coming this far already on your advocacy journey!

If you’ve already seen the success that companies like yours have had with their programs, then you know how far advocacy can take you—and hopefully you’re as excited as we are to see how much your company and career will grow.

Unsure of how you’ll do it all, or even get started? Don’t worry. That’s what we’re here for—your Client Services (Launch) Team, and Customer Success Managers. We’ll guide you every step of the way, from pre-launch planning, through to your success milestones, and beyond.

Maybe you’re even waiting for your kick-off call with us right now, or perhaps you’re just interested in seeing what a kick-off with us is like.

Either way, if you’re eager to get started, we have five questions you can start thinking about to get the ball rolling.

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1. What’s your launch timeline and strategy?

First things first, you need to ask yourself: what’s your timeline for launch? Typically, our customers launch their advocacy programs 30 to 60 days after signing on with Influitive. If you already have an idea of when you’d like to launch then that’s great, but if not our team can work with you to pick the perfect time.

Consider getting creative with your launch date. Are there any live or online events going on around that 30-60 day timeframe? Some of our customers like to plan the launch and announcement around a specific event to begin with a bang. This stimulates excitement for new advocates and helps with initial recruitment efforts.

For example, LogicMonitor—a performance monitoring platform for Enterprise IT—went “out of this world” with their launch strategy. They created a space-themed campaign within their program and carried the theme over to their launch announcement at the global conference Cisco Live. This drove a massive influx of program participants on day one through creativity and timing.

logicmonitor booth at cisco live

Blast-off in 3, 2, 1… LogicMonitor’s program launch at Cisco Live

2. What is your team makeup & what resources are available?

Establishing your advocacy team makeup is really important to setting the groundwork for a successful program. Determine who will be part of this team, and who will be the day-to-day program admin.

Think about whether the admin role will be full-time or part-time. Understanding your resources when it comes to running your program is critical for planning and setting realistic expectations accordingly. Depending on your situation, you can also consider speaking to our Services team for some extra support.

Cross-departmental involvement is crucial for your program’s success. Make sure you understand who your internal key players and representatives across the organization are. Do you have key stakeholders from your product, marketing, sales, customer success teams, etc., that can help shape goals for the program to benefit as much of the business as possible? Think about who can help support this initiative and communicate to them how they stand to benefit.

We’ve seen the most success with customers who have an executive sponsor (usually a CMO or a VP of CS), at least 1 dedicated full-time admin, plus a committee of stakeholders and contributors from teams like sales and product.

At Influitive, our Customer Marketing team oversees and manages our VIP program, but different departments own different initiatives within our program. For example, our Customer Success team uses their own channel to help onboard and educate customers with appropriate resources.

The Product Marketing team is responsible for providing product news updates, and our Product Management team uses our hub to source product feedback and run betas with our advocates. Plus, our Content Marketing team regularly sources ideas and distributes content through VIP.

3. What are your primary goals & objectives?

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What are your overall corporate objectives? Having a solid understanding of your broadest organizational objectives will help you (and help us help you!) design your program to ensure that it meets these goals.

For instance, your department may help support an organizational objective to expand your market share by setting metrics to acquire a certain number of leads. You can align your advocacy program goals with your broader department and organizational objectives by setting targets for referrals, references, reviews on a review site, etc.

Aligning metrics this way is a great way to gain internal buy-in for your program through measurable results that can tangibly prove its ROI.

advocate marketing metrics chart

How can you support your organizational and departmental goals from the ground up?

4. What other complementary programs & communities are already running?

Before you launch your program, take stock of any pre-existing communities, referral programs, or reference programs that an advocacy program can complement.

Your advocacy program shouldn’t be a disruptive force that distracts from other programs. Your program should support your other initiatives, programs and events, and vice-versa, for a sweet multiplier effect all around. (In fact, read about how Influitive integrates with a variety of other tools here.)

Carbon Black, a leading provider of endpoint security solutions, has a great strategy for using an advocacy community to complement their broader community. Kate Cohen, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Carbon Black, identifies “power users” from their broader customer community and invites them into their exclusive advocacy program, Cb Defenders.

Carbon Black then uses Cb Defenders to incentivize these power users to answer specific questions in the broader community and contribute their expertise. (Read more about Carbon Black’s advocacy strategy here.) By rewarding and recognizing these advocates, Carbon Black energized both of these two communities and increased overall engagement.

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5. Who is your audience & what motivates them?

Finally, you’re going to want to think about who your advocates are. On the highest level, you can think about their job title, industry, and role. (Think about what might motivate a mid-level IT professional vs. what might motivate a school teacher—probably different factors and rewards.)

Next, you’ll want to go a layer deeper and consider their demographics, and interests. Will these people get a kick out of a Star Wars themed campaign, or would they be more engaged by a travel themed campaign?

Knowing who your audience is is crucial for targeting them with appropriate content and themes that will resonate with them. Cisco was able to turn their IT Professionals into rockstar advocates through heavy research on advocate personas and tailoring every aspect of their program—from appearance to challenges to rewards—accordingly.

Finally, once you’ve considered your audience and the purpose of your community, you can get into some fun stuff—deciding on the program name. What are you going to call this awesome community you’re about to build?

You can emphasize eliteness and exclusivity like we did with VIP, or our friends at Ecobee who did one better, calling their community VIBee. Or pick a name that represents what the community is about—Rosetta Stone uses their program, The Bridge, to connect language teachers across the world.

Last step: strap yourself in and get ready for an exciting advocacy journey!

If you’ve considered these questions, you’re well on your way to realizing your advocacy program and objectives. Next you’ll get started with us and our team. We’ll help you through anything you’re stuck on and make sure you’re well equipped to hit the ground running with your new community.

So get excited! It’s not every day you get to start on a journey as thrilling and rewarding as advocacy. One day, when you’re busy basking in the love of your advocates and crushing your objectives, you’ll think back to this time fondly as the beginning of something really special.

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