Launching An Advocacy Program Part 8: Finding Inspiration

This is the eighth post in a series about launching a customer advocacy program. The latest post in the series described how to determine which facet of your program to focus on: reach or relationship.

Because advocacy managers are so focused on day-day activities, we are prone to tunnel-vision.

Sure, we set aside time to plan for the next quarter or even the next year and, maybe once in a while, go to a conference (such as Advocamp in December 2017, or the Summit on Customer Engagement in March 2018).

There are also advocacy-related podcasts, such as:

  • Advocacy Matters, by the founders of Boston’s Customer Advocacy Marketing Practitioners group. Davin Wilfrid (Senior Manager, Customer Advocacy at QuickBase), David Coates (Director, Customer Marketing at Iron Mountain) and Evan Jacobs (Senior Manager, Customer Marketing & Advocacy at Rapid7) just released their first episode.

But where do we get inspiration to think beyond scaling and doing more?

Advocacy practitioners can also take cues from popular culture, and I wanted to share two events and a video that provided inspiration to take my advocacy community to another level.

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Performance as community

If you have never been to the Montreal Jazz Festival, start planning for next year. Over 10 days in early July, the Festival takes over the city with hundreds of performances, many of them free.

On a Monday night last year, our crew and 50,000 others headed to the main stage to experience Jamie Cullum.

Embarrassed to say, none of us knew who he is. Think Harry Connick Jr. meets Springsteen with a pinch of Elton John, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Sinatra. He was accompanied by a big band and took us on a 2-hour ride. By the end, Jamie had us in his grip and created a short-lived intense community.

Advocacy take-away: We can’t all perform like Jamie, but it’s still important to think of your webinars, user groups, and other advocacy activities as events to be choreographed and end on a high note.

Venue as community

I follow a somewhat obscure UK band, Public Service Broadcasting (whose US tour is coming this fall). They are multi-media artists/musicians who use the race for space between the USA and the USSR as the backdrop for their performance. It is a little hard to explain as they integrate historical video footage and audio clips with their music.

PSB came to New York City for a 2-night gig on the aircraft carrier at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum—the first time any band has played there. What a treat to be on the deck at night overlooking mid-town with the performance underneath the Space Shuttle Enterprise!

Advocacy take-away: When doing events, think of awesome places your customers and prospects would want to visit in order to create an extraordinary experience.

Humanize your community

I came across Fragments of a Life: A Curbside Mystery by Deborah Acosta, Staff Editor for Social Video at the New York Times. She is pioneering new ways of engaging an audience through video on and on social platforms.

In this 10-minute video, which mixes Facebook Live with other media, she tells an incredible story about life, love and loss.

Coincidentally, just 2 blocks from the Intrepid Museum where I saw PSB, she “followed a trail of beautiful Kodachrome slides to a trash bag filled with them, on the corner of 43rd and 11th Ave. The slides were scattered everywhere, flapping around in the wind. I’m wondering what the story behind the photos could be. It’s illegal to throw your personal trash in a public trash can, and strange that someone would dispose of these beautiful slides in this way. I’m wondering who the photographer could be? Can you help me solve the mystery?”


Advocacy take-away: Every person we engage with has a personal or business story and if you ask, they may just share it. Rather than waiting for customers to reach out to you, reach out to them and ask them about their experience.

Keep your eyes and ears open… you never know when a moment of inspiration is around the corner.

Further customer advocacy program inspiration:

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