It’s August and for most Marketing Leads that means the looming pressure of Q4 is right around the corner.
In order to hit revenue targets, you’ve been instructed to generate more leads, of better quality, with less money. But what do you do when the campaigns you’ve been running all year begin to stall out, threatening your impact on the bottom line? Sending more emails, hosting another webinar, or launching any army of web banners may have worked the first 100 times, but where can you turn when these “go-to” plays start to lose their luster?
The answer: Jim.
Who is Jim? Jim is an advocate – a huge fan of your company and loyal customer who genuinely loves you. Jim can introduce you into conversations you didn’t even know existed, bring you tons of referrals, and shout your praises to the masses. You probably have a ton Jim’s who are willing and able to do all this and more for you – you just have to ask.
That’s the corner stone of Advocate Marketing – the art and science of identifying your highest-potential customers, employees, or partners, and motivating them to spread the word about your company. Using advocate marketing can help drive better leads, lower churn, and increase customer lifetime value. There’s untapped potential lying within this group of loyal customers, all you need to do is activate them.
So how do you find these advocates and start leveraging them to help you reach more people in a more credible way? Download the Advocate Marketing Essential Toolkit for ideas on campaigns and rewards, a sample metrics dashboard, and an step-by-step Advocate Marketing Project Plan.
5 Steps to Build an ADVovate Marketing Program
Chances are you’ve built an army of advocates without even knowing it, and the key to mobilizing them is to create an advocacy program to recruit, engage, and reward those loyal fans.
Developing that plan falls into five key steps:
Step 1: Define your plan of attack
Start by developing a plan that clearly defines the business objectives you’re trying to achieve.
These objectives can be strategic -like increasing revenue through customer referrals – or operational, like growing the total number of advocates. Clearly defining these goals will drive everything from the types of campaigns you’ll run, to the types of rewards you’ll offer. With objectives defined, you’ll need to work on one of the most important pieces of the program, advocate personas.
Much like Buyer Personas, Advocate Personas help you figure out who your advocates are, why they like you so much, and what campaigns resonate best with them. Having a deep understanding of these individuals will allow you to create a program that engages advocates and inspires them to act on your behalf. To round out the planning phase, make sure you outline the process you’ll follow, people you’ll involve, and technology you’ll need to meet your business objectives.
Step 2: Recruit & on-board advocates
With the up-front work out of the way, your next step is to identify and recruit your advocates. Although it’s tempting to bring in any willing recruit, getting the right advocates in place, especially the first time, can be one of the biggest determinants of your success. You’re first group of advocates will play a crucial role, setting the tone and expectations for the program, and serving as a baseline for much of your reporting. Use your Advocate Personas to make sure you’re targeting the right people, then create a recruiting plan that aligns to your defined objectives.
To get started, answer these four questions:
- What’s in it for them?
- How can you make the program sound enticing?
- Where/how will you recruit and onboard your advocates?
- What’s the total number of advocates you want to have after one month/quarter/year?
Step 3: Engage with advocates through compelling campaigns
Now that you’ve assembled your team of advocates, it’s time to start running advocate marketing campaigns. These campaigns are designed to do one thing – ask your advocates to do something. This could be asking them to refer new customers, review a product, act as a reference, or whatever you need them to do – just be aware of your audience, some asks may be better suited for experienced advocates rather than newly on-boarded ones.
To develop these campaigns, there are three foundational elements:
- Define what you are asking them to do
- Define what it means to “participate” in the campaign
- Define the tactics and channels you’ll use to promote the campaign.
For a list of ideas of campaigns download the Advocate Marketing Essential Toolkit
Step 4: Recognize and reward advocates
To drive a successful advocate marketing program, you’ll need to recognize and reward the people that participate. While physical rewards can be very compelling (products, money, etc) there are other types of rewards that can be just as appealing. Because your advocates are such big fans, offering unique perks like priority status, exclusive access, or the power to influence future decisions can be a more powerful motivator than “stuff”. You’ll want to leverage your personas again here to make sure you’re providing the right rewards for the audience, and that they make sense with what you’re asking in the campaign.
Step 5: Analyze and optimize your performance
The last piece of the puzzle is to analyze and optimize the effectiveness of your advocate program. This should take the form of tactical (campaign responses) strategic (number of added advocates), and operational (influenced revenue) metrics that your team will use to report on progress. Breakout metrics into different buckets based on objectives like recruiting, campaign performance, or financial impact to develop a metrics dashboard you can update weekly and track progress.
In a world dominated by email blasts and banner ads, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Establishing an advocate marketing program can help create stronger connections with the people that love your brand, and allow you to amplify their voice and cut through the noise.
To get started, download the Advocate Marketing Essential Toolkit for ideas on campaigns and rewards, a sample metrics dashboard, and an step-by-step Advocate Marketing Project Plan.
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