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There are less than 90 days left in 2018, which means that now’s the time to ensure your 2019 marketing house is in order! Lucky for you, 90-days is more than enough runway to launch an advocacy marketing program for your brand. Ring in the new year with more content shares, social post engagement, and sales. Here’s how to launch your program in time for the new year!

What Can Advocacy Marketing Do For You?

You can’t just ride the profit plane on a wing and a prayer hoping that people will talk about your brand on social media or create amazing content on your behalf. You need a system that supports, energizes, and empowers your fans to advocate on social media on behalf of your brand. At its core, this system is exactly what an advocacy marketing program is all about.

More and more brands are leveraging the benefits of advocacy marketing. Brand advocates have been supporting their favorite brands through referral, word-of-mouth marketing, and public reviews long before the Internet existed. Today, thanks to social media, advocates have a major, worldwide platform to share their love of your brand with their friends and family.

The right advocacy marketing program can help you develop long-term relationships with your biggest fans. It can help increase brand awareness, boost engagement, and best of all? Drive sales and leads. It’s more than just a fan club, it’s a seriously powerful marketing tool that leverages and amplifies your customers’ voices.

Launch an Advocacy Marketing Program in 90 Days or Less

Here’s how to launch an advocacy marketing program in less than 90 days!

First Things First: Think Strategically

An idea without a plan is just that — an idea. You’re going to need more than just an idea to pull off a successful advocacy marketing program launch. Killer advocacy marketing programs are built on a firm foundation of strategic goals that work in tandem with your business objectives.

Just like you would create a business plan, you need to create an ideal advocate strategy. Get started building your ideal strategy by answering these three aspects:

  1. Who is your ideal advocate?
  2. What content is important to your advocates?
  3. What does a successful advocacy marketing program look like to you?

1) Who is your Ideal Advocate?

Not everyone is going to be an ideal fit for your program and that’s okay. In fact, that’s what you want. You can’t build a program that pleases everyone, so focus instead on building a program that meets the exact needs of your ideal participant. To create your ideal advocate profile, you’ll want to look at your top customers’:

  • Common gender
  • Common age range
  • Common activities and interests
  • Common patterns across ages, genders, and interests
  • Common motivational desires (what drives them to participate)

These ideal individuals are going to join and participate in your advocacy marketing program because the program resonates deeply with them.

2) What Content is Important to Your Advocates?

What do your advocates care about? Saving money? Early access to new products or services? Strategically identify what is important to them?  Some questions to ask are…

  • Do they want discounts or coupons?
  • Do they prefer value exclusive content?
  • What is their media consumption preference (podcast, vlog, blog, etc.)?
  • Would they be interested in creating content on your behalf?

3) What Does a Successful Advocacy Marketing Program Look like to You?

Just like each business carefully defines its own measures of success, so does each advocacy marketing program. For some, the KPIs may be earned media value and high share rates. While other brands may define success around total program reach and a large audience. It doesn’t matter what success looks like as long as it makes sense to you and your business objectives.

I. Month One

1) Design and Build Your Program

Now that you have your objectives outlined and defined and they match up with your business objectives, you can start designing and building your program. There are two types of advocacy marketing programs:

A) Employee Advocacy: An advocacy marketing program that is made up primarily of a brand’s employees. Often found in B2B companies, though B2C brands are welcome to join in on the fun, this program empowers your employees to share company-approved content on to their personal social channels. Job openings, case studies, and blog posts are just some of the content employees would be proud to share.

B) Consumer Advocacy: This program focuses on your consumers. Your biggest customers, aka your biggest fans, share your best blog posts, information about new products or services, information on upcoming sales, product or video reviews, and more. In some instances, they even create content on your behalf!

2) Choose Your Advocacy Marketing Platform

If you’re wondering how you’re going to manage all the ins-and-outs of an advocacy marketing program, good news! There are a plethora of third-party software options available to consumers. We’re partial to our own SocialToaster platform though.

Regardless of the system you choose, a third-party system can be a huge benefit to your program management team. The SocialToaster program for example:

  • Can measure and track your programs earned media ROI automatically
  • Send new content to advocates
  • Allow your brand to create polls and quizzes to further engage with your audience
  • Allow your brand to build your program using our program template

3) Build Your Advocacy Marketing Program

Once you’ve chosen your preferred platform it’s time to build and design your program. Use quality images and a hi-res version of your logo to create an exciting experience your advocates can’t wait to join.

Be sure to also include strong language that explains what the program is all about and what the benefits/draw is for people to join your program. The stronger your calls-to-action, the easier it’ll be for you to recruit your fans into the program.

Speaking of…

II. Month Two

1) Start Recruitment

Whether you’ve decided to do either an employee or a consumer advocacy program, once you launch an advocacy marketing program, by month two it’s time to start recruiting. You might be surprised to learn that during this phase it’s not about quantity of advocates but about quality.

When targeting advocates with your program recruitment messaging you want to look for…

  • Those already familiar with your brand
  • Individuals who are more socially active than your average customer
  • Individuals motivated by the love of your brand
  • Those who are motivated by the desire to grow their influence power on their own social media network

Now that you know what to look for, how can you find the recruits?

A) Social Media Pages: Leverage your social media page to drive your followers and fans to your program. If you’re already getting tons of likes, shares, and pins then you’re already ahead of the game.

B) Email Lists: Likewise, you can send a regular blast to your email list to encourage your customers to engage with you on a deeper level through your brand’s advocacy marketing program.

C) Paid Media: Let’s be honest, organic reach just isn’t what it used to be. To take your advocacy marketing recruitment efforts to the next level, consider implementing a paid media campaign. With a paid campaign, you can target specific audiences who would be interested and find value in your advocacy marketing program.

D) Your Other Advocates: People listen to people! Once you start recruiting your best customers into your program, you can start to leverage their social-sharing prowess to encourage them to recruit their friends and family into the program.

2) Roll Out the Incentives

Now that you’ve got your advocates recruited and raring to go, it’s time to start rolling out the awards. From cash prizes to free items to invites to exclusive events, there’s no shortage of incentives your brand can provide to encourage advocates to actively participate in the program.

Since there are so many different incentive options it can be a bit overwhelming to choose the “perfect” incentive. That’s why we recommend that brands consider what motivates each of their advocates to participate. Some advocates are motivated by free stuff, while others are motivated by power, and some are motivated by your ability to recognize them.

Let’s look at the each of these different motivations and their corresponding incentives:

A) Status Motivator: These advocates are motivated by status. They’re highly respected individuals or leaders in their real life and in your advocacy marketing program. You can engage these individuals through incentives like…

  • Inviting them to speak at an event
  • Feature some of their insights in your branded publications
  • Create a case study around the way they use your product/service
  • Feature them on a leaderboard of top advocates in your program

B) VIP Motivators: Wouldn’t you love to be a rockstar for a day? Well, so would some of your advocates! These individuals are motivated by the creme de la creme of life. They want the VIP treatment from you. Some VIP treatments you can give to your advocates are…

  • Exclusive access to features, products or services other customers don’t have access to
  • Provide personalized service
  • Provide insider discounts and perks
  • Invite them to exclusive parties and events

C) Power Motivators: In the words of Kanye, “no one man should have all that power” except, of course, in this case. When you use power as a motivator, you let your advocates know that they matter. Their opinions, thoughts, and ideas matter to you and you apply them when appropriate. To continue encouraging them to make an impact on your brand you can…

  • Invite them to participate in beta testing
  • Ask them for direct feedback on a product or service (new or old)
  • Elect an advocate to moderate a discussion or forum thread

D) Free Stuff Motivators: Who doesn’t like free? While some of your advocates maybe me more motivated by the other motivators like power and VIP, free is going to motivate most, if not all of your advocates. The free stuff motivators are tangible rewards for your mid-tier and top advocates. These include things like…

  • Gift cards
  • Free gifts like new technology (watch, tablet, Bluetooth speaker, etc.)
  • Free product or service that you offer

Don’t be surprised if some of your advocates are motivated by more than one motivator. It’s not uncommon for someone who loves the VIP treatment to also love free gifts. Or for someone motivated by status to also be motivated by power. These motivators can and should be used in congruence with one another to build a program incentive structure that blasts your program into the stratosphere.  

III. Month Three

1) Produce and Share Content

By month 3 you should have a consistent stream of content going out. Between written content, photo contests and videos, there are several different ways to keep your advocates engaged and excited about your brand.

As you share and send content, be sure to monitor how your advocates are engaging with your content. The strongest advocacy marketing programs are the ones that evolve over time based on advocacy feedback.