One of the biggest challenges when launching an advocate marketing program is getting buy-in from your colleagues.

Since advocate marketing is a new concept, it can be hard to get others understand its benefits.

But when you gain buy-in by raising awareness for your program, you’ll increase its chances of being funded and get more input from your colleagues. This feedback will improve your advocates’ experience and your program’s results because you will no longer be the only person in your organization coming up with ideas for advocate requests (or ‘challenges’ as we like to call them). Best of all, it will get people talking about what you’re doing, which will raise your profile internally and give your career a boost.

One way I get internal buy-in is by hosting advocate marketing workshops for my colleagues. This educates them about what advocacy is, who your advocates are and—most importantly—how your advocates can help them achieve their goals.

The more your colleagues see how advocacy will benefit them personally, the more they will help you make your program a success.

To show your workshop’s value, market it like a mini-campaign. Use the same techniques that you would use for other marketing campaigns, such as talking about the workshop in your employee newsletter or on your internal social network. You can also talk to people one-on-one and approach managers to invite their teams. It will likely take a few touches for your colleagues to put the workshop on their radar.

How to structure your advocate marketing workshops to get lightning-fast buy-in from your colleagues

My internal advocacy workshops usually run between three and four hours. It takes time to get your colleagues on board. For the best results, follow my proven three-part structure for your workshops:

Part 1. Introduction to advocate marketing

During the first portion of the workshop, I’ll define both advocacy and advocate marketing. Use terms that resonate with your colleagues, so they’ll get excited about your program.

Part 2. Advocate marketing tools

During the second part of the workshop, I’ll demo our program. It’s important to show your colleagues concrete examples of what’s working for you. If your presentation is too general or abstract, they won’t understand advocate marketing’s value.

We’ll also explore the psychology of advocate marketing and what motivates customers to take part. For example, we’ll talk about using gamification, rewards and badges to boost engagement.

Part 3. Advocacy in action

Prior to the workshop, I’ll ask my colleagues to write down one of their top work goals. The goal must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART). For example, someone from our professional development team may want to increase engagement in our e-learning courses by 20% this fiscal year.

Then, I’ll ask people to break into groups of two or three. (It doesn’t matter if they work in the same department or different departments. This part of the workshop is about being creative.) The teams will think of ways advocates can help them achieve their goals. For example, advocates may register for the courses, tell others about them or suggest ways we can improve them.

Finally, the teams will create one advocacy challenge—or a series of challenges—based on the goal. For example, they may create a challenge that asks advocates to register for an e-learning course. Or, they can ask advocates to share the course with their colleagues or social networks. After an advocate takes a course, they can send them a challenge that asks for feedback. This will help us improve our courses to boost future registrations.

At the end of the workshop, I ask everyone to share their top goals and how our advocates can help. During this part of the workshop, I see lots of light bulbs go off. My colleagues realize, “I don’t need to struggle to achieve these goals by myself. We have advocates who are willing to help.”

Use an advocate marketing worksheet to get started

Make things easier for your colleagues by giving them a worksheet that helps them plan their advocacy challenges. Here’s what to include in your worksheet:

  1. What is your SMART goal (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely)?
  2. How can advocates help you achieve this goal? Write down every idea that comes to mind – the crazier, the better!
  3. Find common themes in your ideas. For example, do many of your ideas include receiving feedback from advocates? If so, “feedback” is one of your themes.
  4. Create between one and five challenges based on these themes.

AM_Challenges_Worksheet_v3Download a copy of this sheet to use here.

Show your colleagues the power of advocate marketing

Your workshop is just the starting point. It’s important to follow through with your colleagues. Once they commit their time to your workshop, the pressure is then on you to deliver results.

Collect your colleagues’ challenge ideas at the end of the workshop. Then, share these challenges with your advocates.

For example, hold your workshop on a Friday, set up the challenges on Monday and report on your results on Thursday. When your colleagues see how quickly your advocates can help them achieve their goals, they will be happy to support your program.

How did you get internal buy-in for your advocate marketing program? Join our community discussion to learn more from other experienced advocate marketers!