An Easy Strategy for Maintaining B2B Customer Engagement Month After Month: Rinse-and-Repeat Advocacy-thumbnail

So you’ve just launched an advocacy program to help regularly engage your customers. Congratulations! Your advocates have signed up, you’ve started them off with some interesting activities, your manager congratulates you, and then…

…you panic.

But why? You know your program goals backwards and forwards. You’ve got the green light, and the budget is locked down to grow your B2B customer engagement strategy.

The problem is that now the post-launch glow is over, and you have no idea what to do next with your advocates.

Okay, stop. Breathe. It’s not as bad as you think.

You’re in a great position because your program is fresh and exciting for your advocates! And to keep the engagement consistent month after month, you can use one simple strategy I call the rinse-and-repeat method.

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The secret to ongoing B2B customer engagement: ‘rinse-and-repeat’ programs

Step 1. Ask what your advocates want.
Step 2. Build a repeatable process that delivers what they want and supports your business goals.

Step 1. Ask what your advocates want

Think about your program goals. What are they?

  • Authentic user-generated content?
  • Thought leaders for industry events or webinars?
  • Expert customers to share their product experience on prospect calls?

Now think of how you can translate those goals into activities that can help advocates achieve their own.

For instance:

  • How does user-generated content translate into an opportunity for your advocates?
  • Could your advocates write articles about your product and have them promoted by your social media team, giving them exposure as industry experts?
  • Could a reference call for you translate into a networking opportunity for them, where they share their expertise with tech and business leaders?

After you’ve translated your goals into possible benefits, you’re ready to reach out to the advocates to find out what they actually want. Here’s an example of what you might ask:

What activities appeal to you the most?

  • Offer my product or industry expertise
  • Learn from experts
  • Gain access to industry leaders
  • Network with my peers
  • Have my expert content shared by [company] and fellow advocates
  • Other, please explain

Step 2. Build a repeatable process

Once you’ve received feedback, take the top activities chosen by your advocates, and make them easily repeatable and relevant. Let’s take the two examples and work these into ongoing processes.

A. Learn from experts

B. Have my expert content shared by [company] and fellow advocates

A. Learn from experts

First make sure you aren’t duplicating what’s already being done. If your company runs educational webinars, think of how you can offer unique value to your advocates around these already scheduled programs. For instance, work with the webinar team to feature your advocates’ questions and topics in the webinars.

If you do want to create your own series, make it special, like holding intimate live Q&As sessions with experts. You could even have your advocates interview experts and turn those interviews into content.

Now, make it repeatable. Create an ongoing system that lets you rinse-and-repeat the activity while delivering value to all parties. Here’s an example using live Q&A sessions:

  1. Discover – Reach out to your advocates and ask what’s top of mind for them.
  2. Repeat – Schedule a Q&A session once per month (or whatever cadence works for you).
  3. Experts – Line up your experts ahead of time and schedule appearance dates.
  4. Announce the series – Announce the Q&A sessions as an official series and invite your advocates to join. Be consistent with the day and time of the series. Choose a time that works for as many time zones as possible.
  5. Don’t flake – You’ve made a promise that this will be a series. Stick to it!
B. Have my expert content shared

I love encouraging advocates to create user-generated-content. It’s more trusted and compelling than content your brand can create about itself. Content can come in many forms: blogs, videos, podcasts, ebooks, etc. For this exercise we’ll go with blog content.

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You can go two ways with blog content: have advocates write for your company blog, or leverage content from advocate blogs. The advantage of company blogs is that your internal teams may be more likely to promote it, since it’s been given the company stamp of approval. Your company blog will also benefit from content by real customers.

The advantage of external blogs is that content “in the wild” is often perceived as more authentic. Also, advocates who want to build their own blog readership may be more willing to write for you, since you will be pointing back to their own blogs. In addition, you won’t need to manage the content process as closely, so it’s less work for you.

Advocate blogs have been a mainstay of every program I’ve managed, and over the years I’ve learned to go big. The below process may not apply to your exact needs, but you can take what works and adjust the rest to make it repeatable.

  1. Set up a place to explain the blogger series to advocates – Include the benefits of blogging, plus an overview of how the series will work and what content it will cove.
  2. Set advocate participation expectations – Ask your advocates to blog about 2 topics for the year or set up a formal series and give them goals and deadlines.
  3. Provide blogging guidelines – Be specific on length, format, etc., and offer resources to make the process easier for those who volunteer. Suggest title ideas, topics and places to sources for finding compelling images—anything that will help them complete their blog.

Assigning blog due dates up front provides you with an an instant content calendar and presents meaningful activities for your advocates right away. You’ll also amass a broad collection of articles that your internal stakeholders can leverage. Most importantly, since you’ve built the process at the beginning, you won’t panic later.

More rinse-and-repeat engagement ideas

The above rinse-and-repeat examples can apply to other acts of advocacy as well, like social amplification, product education and references.

  • Turn social amplification and product education into a weekly “news worth knowing” series. Each week provide advocates the latest industry articles, educational materials and announcements to read and share. Ideally these would align with your program and stakeholder goals. You can also turn the activity around and ask advocates what their favorite reads are. Feature their picks for fellow advocates to read and share. You’ll have less control over the content, but more inclusion and kudos for the advocates.
  • Are references a big deal for you? Get your reference volunteers signed up at the beginning of your program. Name it the “Expert Guide” program. Tout the benefits of being an Expert Guide: sharing expertise, making connections with other experts, and helping peers make well-informed purchasing decisions. Celebrate your Expert Guides once per month by sharing their accomplishments to your internal teams and to other advocates.

The key to preventing customer engagement program panic is to learn what your advocates want, then turn those wants into ongoing systems of repeatable activities. You’ll breath easier knowing you won’t have to re-invent the wheel every week, and you’ll consistently provide meaningful activities for your advocates that align with your program and company goals.

Give it a try! Start a series, then rinse-and-repeat!

Video: 5 Tips To Make Running Advocacy Programs Easier

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