Going Global ― Journey to a Global Advocacy Program

January 5, 2023

We’re always excited to see the many ways in which our clients’ Customer Advocacy Programs evolve, including expanding globally. The move to a global program can be exciting — and tricky. Time zones, languages, staffing, and cultural differences are just some of the things to consider along the way.

I’ve worked with many program leaders to help them find and engage advocates worldwide. Below are some of the insights gained in helping more regionally focused advocacy programs take flight. 

In some cases, the obstacles and opportunities associated with managing a global Customer Advocacy Program are universal no matter where you’re looking to expand. Other times, however, they become very local, very fast.

Can’t hire locally? Tap into regional marketing teams.

If you don’t have resources to hire advocacy managers in region, look for opportunities to partner with in-region marketing managers who have a vested interest in customer storytelling. Many headquarters-based Customer Advocacy Programs collaborate with marketing or communications managers globally to support recruiting advocates for written stories, videos, events, sales reference calls, analyst reports, and more.

This strategy can help address demand for a pool of advocates that better reflects your worldwide customer base. A few things to keep in mind:

  • In-region marketing and communications managers know their market, languages, and cultures. Although they might devote only 10% to 20% of their time to the Advocacy Program, their knowledge and relationships locally can deliver tremendous value.
  • Consider and support their goals while also clearly communicating and gaining support for the types of advocates you need for broader corporate and global initiatives. 
  • Become a trusted partner. Align with your identified in-region advocacy lead, and with their manager, so you can better balance their priorities. 

Acknowledge regional advocacy needs

With all the demands on a Customer Advocacy team at headquarters, it’s tempting to push regional teams to always provide only the exact advocates you need. This might achieve some short-term goals. However, regions also have their own advocacy priorities, which might not always align with your needs. Balance, collaboration, and sharing the load can go a long way in driving mutual success.

  • Taking a balanced approach is essential. The corporate Customer Advocacy team needs to listen to regional priorities and work together to identify advocates that fulfil both global and regional requirements. There are, of course, times when this isn’t possible. In those cases, it’s important to recognize that regional requirements should not be overshadowed. 
  • Collaborate with the regional teams to build a plan for working with those same customers in the future. Having a well-thought-out and carefully timed plan to tell a customer’s story over time and through multiple opportunities can benefit both the corporate and regional programs. It also offers participating customers continued opportunities to tell their story and promote both their personal and company brands.
  • In some cases, a manager on your team could work alongside a regional manager to support recruiting in region during times of particularly high demand, such as leading up a company’s big annual conference.

Develop processes, communicate standards

It’s surprising how quickly things can go off track in a global advocacy program. Seemingly straightforward tools and processes such as branded corporate templates, approval requirements, or accurately confirming customer use cases and resulting benefits are just a few things that can present challenges. 

To set you and the regional teams up for success — and arm regional teams with tools to help them identify and engage the most valuable advocates — it’s good to have a detailed process guide. Things to include are:

  • Ideal advocate profile including priority industries, use cases, company size, and spokesperson personas
  • Key story details to capture, such as the type of metrics and corporate or product messaging to highlight
  • Interview questionnaires to guide discussions on high-level business use cases and results, as well as product-specific details and benefits
  • Branded templates, with detailed content structure guidelines, for case studies, slides, and other frequently created content pieces
  • Sample communications for outreach to account teams, customers, partners, stakeholders, and legal teams
  • Links to examples of strong case studies and slides, as well as to corporate brand guidelines

Once processes are documented, set up regular check-ins with regional managers to ensure they are clear on steps and goals. Also, any reporting they provide to your team should map to your existing reporting processes. Given the already heavy demands on your team, having a standardized approach to reporting from regions will save your team hours each month by not having to rework status updates.

Designate someone on your core team to partner with regions

No matter how well you’ve documented advocacy program processes, successfully managing a global program requires continued engagement from a centralized advocacy team. In addition to meeting regularly with regional managers, someone on your core team needs to be available to provide guidance as questions arise to keep activities moving ahead.

A designated manager should also review stories from regions before they are approved by a customer. This helps ensure each story is developed with a global appeal in mind. It also provides the chance to verify that basic story details, including products used and benefits realized, are clearly conveyed. 

What if the story is written in another language? Having a draft story translated to English and reviewed before it is approved by a customer is well worth the investment. It’s more cost-effective and easier to edit a story draft than try to edit or add to an already customer-approved story. 

On the road to success

These are some of the top things to consider as you embark on your global program. Consistent themes throughout: 

  • Embrace the knowledge of regional teams
  • Be a partner
  • Provide ongoing, clear communication
  • Document processes, and 
  • Prioritize quality every step of the way: quality advocates, quality content, quality results

In the end, the goal is to not just get strong regional advocates, but as often as possible, capture advocate stories that resonate with audiences regionally and worldwide.

If you’d like more ideas about how to evolve your Customer Advocacy Program for global success, drop us a note at info@bigskypr.com.


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