Let me start with this, Jeremiah Owyang consistently writes papers, posts, and articles that I read while nodding and murmuring Yep and Uh Huh. Until today.
Jeremiah wrote an article that I’d give a solid B- for Forbes. In How To Create A Customer Advocacy Program, and includes five easy steps for CMOs to follow. I read the article and went Uh huh, Yep, Yes, Are you CRAZY, and Sure. 80% for Jeremiah and that is a B- with some crummy advice built in.
He starts strong, explaining why a company would need an advocacy program and then he gets to the five phases:
1. Get ready internally: Smart, yes, go read the article, because this is advice y’all probably need. Us bloggers require massaging, have someone in place to handle us.
2. Find the right advocates: yes, of course. This just makes sense. He goes into detail, and I promise you the devil is in the details, and I also promise you that the wrong team will sink you.
3. Build a relationship for the long term: You cannot begin to predict the future. Toyota has taken a beating, I’m sure their press relationships are more critical now than ever before.
4. Give them a platform — but do not pay them: This is where my head about spun off my shoulders. If you don’t pay for your outreach you will get messes like this.
Or when a man is trampled to death while working at WalMart your free employees might not know what to say.
Of course, there’s always the Mc Donalds Moms (http://mcdonaldsmoms.com), whose website does not appear to be active, but they do have Quality Correspondents.
Is there any part of you that trusts these people with your brand? Mr. CMO, please go grab an intern, any intern and ask yourself, “Do I want to empower this unpaid person with my brand’s reputation?” The chances are your answer to this is, “No”. The chances are also very good that any random intern has more training than the current crop of Brand Ambassadors.
I’m begging you Ms. CMO don’t listen to people who are selling you a package that includes free labor. These Brand Ambassadors do more harm than good to the smart consumer. I’m hopeful that you want the smart consumer.
5. Integrate them into your business and recognize them: Well yeah, of course. It’s a business, not a nonprofit. See #4, and let’s see if we can get y’all an A+ this time.