Advocate identification entails more than scrubbing a customer database for demographic and transactional information. Quite often my team must defend the notion of the right advocate at the right time, yet it’s hard to resist settling for the easier quantity over the more challenging quality. The end result usually pays for itself, so keep in mind the old adage: ‘You get out what you put in.’

The art of identification is really about finding your most passionate and loyal customers, and putting them at the center of your outreach efforts. All customers are not created equal. If you don’t look for specific behaviors they are hard wired to possess, you’ll find it challenging to build a powerful WOM and communication channel.

The first step is to create an advocate profile. Think about it in terms of baking a cake. Segmenting consumers by the products and services they use is the base, or flour. Flour is an important component, but alone doesn’t give you a cake. Add some sugar and chocolate, time it right, and now we’ve got something. To avoid a recipe for disaster when identifying advocates, you need the right mix of demographic targets, transactional data, brand loyalty, behavioral traits and attitude. Ever see the commercial where the mom mistakenly served a cake made with salt instead of sugar? If you didn’t, the end result was a toxic mess, and a bunch of disappointed kids.

How does this analogy relate to community? Advocates are the heartbeat of any healthy and vibrant community. Engaging with them at the right times, during community design or new product launches for example, will gain you key insights and invaluable feedback. This is why identification is so important. We have seen advocacy programs where salt was used instead of sugar, and the environment proved to be just as toxic. One community example jumps to mind. A private council of advocates was hand selected to engage directly with the brand. The council recruited another community member, who on the surface seemed like a good fit, to participate. Unfortunately the program became this individual’s soapbox, and negativity spread like wild fire.

We use this example to educate our clients on the importance of the right advocate at the right time. In future posts we’ll explore the art of identification and all its nuances. Always remember though, it starts with the proper mix. If not, you may be serving up a cake just as toxic, leaving your customers with a bitter taste versus a world class, melt-in-your-mouth delight.

Jennifer Voisard

Jennifer Voisard

Senior Consultant

Jenny is a digital content strategist, who leads customer-centric engagements that focus on understanding B2B buying behaviors and developing custom roadmaps.

Her expertise is creating buyer personas and mapping digital content journeys to assess the multi-channel user experience. She helps clients operationalize plans across workstreams and identifies processes to create efficiencies in marketing operations. Jenny also has extensive time under her belt developing and managing customer advocacy programs and community building.

She has helped a diverse group of organizations including Cisco, VMware, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, BMO Harris, Capital One and many others become more customer-centric.