Written By: Jeni Asaba
May 20, 2022
A few weeks back, I chatted with Influitive’s Chief Marketing Officer, Dan Cote, about greenhouses — kind of.
In my webinar titled “Building a Greenhouse: How Jamf Nurtures Advocates and Creates the Right Environment for Growth” we discussed how organizations with customer advocacy programs already have premiere environments for customer advocates.
But while it can be hard to catch a 45-minute webinar, chances are you have a few minutes to finish this article. So stick with me for tips around how to showcase your program as a must-have within your organization.
Let’s start with bunnies.
Whether they’re lounging in the grass or chomping on seedlings in my garden, I love watching them. Yes, I want my veggies and flowers to be successful.
But I’m also happy to feed the local wildlife. Bunnies are cute, so I knowingly risk the success of my plants. Of course if I cared about my vegetation more, I could ensure better results.
I could plant in a greenhouse.
The raised garden beds and carefully curated infrastructure of a greenhouse provides the perfect protection from the elements. It holds in the heat, keeps out the rain and creates a barrier from any inquisitive animals (ahem, bunnies).
It’s arguably the best environment to ensure the successful growth of plants. As you can see, there’s a clear correlation between environment and outcomes. The good news is, this also applies to your organization.
If you already have a customer advocacy program, you already have the greenhouse!
You identified that while the majority of your organization’s customer base will live in the wild, if there’s space where a subset of them can grow in a carefully and strategically maintained environment, they’ll not only survive, they’ll thrive.
But they won’t succeed without a little help. This isn’t a plant-it-and-forget-it situation, so let’s revisit the type of nurturing your advocates need to achieve their full potential (even in the greenhouse):
Three essential elements of every advocacy program:
Connections With Each Other:
Don’t underestimate this important aspect of community.
Your advocates want (and need) more strategic connections to each other. It’s very possible they’re the only person at their organization in their role.
They want to connect with others who understand their world. But remember, not everyone likes to connect in the same way. So provide options (e.g. Slack, meetups, arranged 1:1s, etc.).
Connections With Your Organization:
Just like your customers want more connection to each other, they also want more connection to your organization.
They want glimpses behind the curtain. They want to see who supports them, who builds the product, who makes the decisions.
They’d love more visibility into your roadmap. Where you can, let them in.
As a community manager, one of your biggest goals should be to first and foremost to provide value to your customers.
Be sure to share a variety of educational resources (e.g. blogs, white papers, e-books, case studies, webinars) along with opportunities to learn from experts at your organization, as well as from each other.
Infusing these three elements into your community is key — yes. But they won’t provide long-term growth and overall success on their own.
Just like a garden needs something extra (think fertilizer, maybe some light weeding ), so does your community. Below are three additional (often overlooked) elements to offer your advocates.
They’ll thank you.
Three (additional) essential elements of every advocacy program:
We all need fun in our lives. It’s no different in your community. If your advocates aren’t having fun, they likely aren’t engaging at the level they could. Think of creative ways to infuse some excitement in their day. Start a fun, non-work, conversation. Invite them to a special event (e.g. virtual escape room) to celebrate the community’s anniversary. Have a raffle for cool swag, just because. Make it fun, and give them a reason to engage over and over again!
Who doesn’t like a good surprise?
Many of our days are so routine that having something unexpected happen is a welcomed gift. And when you take the time to send a hand-written note or pop a random “Thanks for being awesome gift” in the mail, you’re showing community members they’re worth the time — they’re appreciated.
These actions create grateful, loyal customers. Don’t skimp on the surprises!
Similar to surprises, rewards are more powerful than you think.
Of course, they need to be carefully curated and actually match the motivators of your community members. I’m personally not a fan of only offering gift cards.
I’m also not in the camp of only giving org-branded swag. When it comes to rewards, you get to be creative. Ask your customers what they want, then give what you can. Since they suggested it, they’ll work for it and appreciate earning the reward.
And, if your swag is cool enough, you’ll likely even get free advertising from your members.
By infusing these six steps into your advocacy program, you’re not only setting up your customers for long-term success, but you’re also building key foundational relationships that will help your organization grow over time.
So take a look around and see if your greenhouse needs any improvements. Then enjoy the delicious fruits of your labor.
Remember to share your successes with your organization so everyone can see how building, and maintaining, a greenhouse-type environment will create happy, engaged customers who provide immense value to your organization over time.
Customer marketing plays a key role in shaping powerful customer advocates. Check out Influitive’s recap of the Customer Marketing Summit to get a high-level view of all the ingredients you need to build a customer marketing program that leads to influential customer advocates.