As a marketer, you’re a busy person. So it’s hard to imagine how adding yet another program to your list of things to manage will save you time.

Heather.Pkelly caird headshotTvalerie hamilton headshothat’s why we asked three top advocate marketers how they fit advocate marketing into their busy schedules: Valerie Hamilton, Digital Marketing Specialist at Klipfolio, Kelly Caird, Director of Social Media & Customer Advocacy at Just Drive Media, and Heather Pepe, Senior Marketing Manager at PGi.

Valerie and Heather manage their companies’ advocate marketing programs, while Kelly manages programs for a variety of Just Drive Media’s clients. They’re sharing how much time advocate marketing takes them—and how much time it saves them. Read on for their top insights, or watch the webinar below.

How advocacy saves marketers time

Advocate marketing programs act as a centralized channel for reaching out to customers and providing them with exclusive perks, helpful resources, and access to other customers so they can be more successful. By creating these vibrant communities, Valerie, Heather and Kelly have created pool of eager advocates they can tap into when they need customers to provide success stories, product feedback, and references.

As a result, they’ve all discovered that they save time on these common marketing activities and increase results on initiatives like collecting testimonials or boosting social media engagement. “I learned to use our advocate marketing program to help in other places where you’re taking hours per week to get stuff done,” says Valerie. “On average, I save anywhere from 2 hours to 10 hours per task, depending on the task.”

Posting challenges in their advocate marketing platforms also allows them to reach out to all their customers at once, easily identifying those who are interested—and helping them scale their efforts. “We got 190 online reviews just from posting a challenge,” says Heather. Plus, she finds that advocacy allows her a greater control over her own schedule. “It’s flexible and I can do things on my own time,” she says.

All three marketers say that case studies in particular became much faster to create. This is because they can reach out to many advocates at once through their program, instead of chasing down customers individually—only to find out the story isn’t the right fit. “It saves dozens of hours of sorting through and finding the right people, and it’s great to be able to see a glimpse of what you’re going to get,” says Valerie.

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How much time to spend on advocacy weekly

Heather and Valerie both reported spending around ten hours on their program per week, with most of their time being spent on challenge creation. “I try to do an hour to two hours a day, and we post between 15 and 20 challenges a week,” says Heather.

Agencies can help marketers who want to get started with advocacy, but aren’t sure if they can commit that much time. Kelly, who manages advocate marketing programs for a variety of clients, reported that she spends around an hour per week in one-on-ones with her clients in order to keep them on track.

How getting internal buy-in saves time

Valerie, Kelly and Heather find getting buy-in from other departments is crucial to getting ideas for new challenges and making advocacy a company-wide priority.

However, without the right explanation, advocacy can sometimes be dismissed as just another marketing fad, stopping other departments from rallying behind it.

To show skeptics what advocacy can do, Valerie suggests asking other teams what they desperately need to know from customers and creating a challenge to surprise them. “Since then, it’s been no problem getting people involved,” she says. ”Now I have different departments coming to me asking if I can add a challenge.”

Providing challenges that relate to company-wide objectives is also key to connecting their customers with the people they really want to hear from. “When our customers who are in DevOps hear from someone else in DevOps, it makes the whole experience that much more real to them,” says Valerie. “You want to make sure that the program is giving them more than it’s giving you.”

Top time-saving tips

Here are Heather, Kelly and Valerie’s top time-saving tips:

  • Have clear goals surrounding what you want to get out of your program. Knowing what you want to achieve will help you determine where to put in the most time. “Have an idea around what you want to get out of the program, and what you want your customers to get,” says Valerie.
  • Use the pre-built challenge templates. Rather than building a new challenge from scratch every time, take advantage of existing challenge templates. “There’s not a time where I ever have to create one from scratch,” says Heather. Just make sure to use a variety of challenge types. “You get pretty efficient and learn what you need to put in, with a good balance of educational, fun and asks.” Repeating challenge types weekly will also reduce the time you spend coming up with new ideas while giving your advocates something regular to look forward to.
  • Schedule backup challenges so you have some ready to go whenever you need them. You never know how many (metaphorical) fires you’ll have to put out in a week. Preparing and scheduling a challenge or two when you’re less busy will help keep engagement high during the weeks you get slammed. “If you have a template built out of things that you’re doing, that does help save a lot of time,” says Kelly.

All three agreed that, although advocate marketing does require an initial time investment, the time they saved and the results they achieved made it well worth it in the long run.

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