3 Essential Steps to Get Leadership Buy-In for Your Advocacy Program
Do you feel you have the best employee advocacy program on your hands and can’t wait to implement it in your company? Well, the first thing you’ll have to do is convince your higher-ups. Because we know this can be a challenging endeavor sometimes, we’ve put together a 3-step battle plan for you. Educating, planning, and demonstrating are key here: nail them, and your pitch will dazzle your leadership.
Getting the executives and all the decision-makers of your company to give their buy-in for employee advocacy is not always an easy task, we know. There might be that manager who’s a bit of a tough nut to crack or even that CEO who doesn’t really see what the fuss is all about.
But these are obstacles you have to power through and overcome — even the best advocacy program and platform out there won’t count for a lot if you don’t have the go-ahead of the high-ups.
And to do that, the essential thing is having a concrete plan for them to see how much advocacy marketing will benefit your bottom line. To help you do that, here are the three essential steps we suggest you take.
Step one: Educate
The first thing you need to do, of course, is to get people acquainted with your program. Explaining what advocacy is may seem like something you’d want to brush off quickly, still, they are the foundations of your whole initiative, so don’t make the mistake of taking them for granted.
Basically, you need to come clean about all the ins and outs of advocacy, anything that can help you get others on the same page about what advocacy and being an ambassador actually means, what it entails, and why your company needs it.
What it is and how it works is only the beginning.
Provide all the details necessary for your superiors to make an informed decision. Try to put yourself in their shoes — make a case for implementing advocacy marketing, but also try to identify possible gaps in it — it’ll help you anticipate potential pitfalls and objections and prepare a counterargument for them.
Step two: Contemplate
Having goals and a rough schedule for your advocacy plan is essential for you and your high-ups to visualize where this initiative aims and where it’s supposed to go.
How should your company benefit from this advocacy program?
Not every company will set the same goals for itself, so some fine-tuning is needed. Start there and then try to delineate some general, achievable goals to launch the program inside your company. If it's the first time your company sets up an advocacy program, the cautious thing to do first would be to start small and then move on to bigger fish.
When your objective is to dazzle your decision-makers, it’s crucial that you nail the pitch. You need to double down on those unique features of your advocacy marketing platform that make the investment worthwhile. For example, through the platform, you can track the actions of your ambassadors and keep an eye on how many clicks each post gets. Thus, you’ll be able to see the value of click cost and verify how much you are saving on ad spend.
There are, of course, many other initial goals that you can set for your program — increase the trust in your company messaging, improve your social media exposure, etc.
Once you grasp all the metrics that indicate how well your community is performing, you can start focusing on bigger and more specific goals.
For example, how often you need your campaigns to be shared each month, how many clicks you want, how much cost per click, the potential reach you expect from your advocacy efforts, etc.
Set quickly attainable KPIs and make them more ambitious over time.
A gradual approach will give your company the time to adjust to the platform and advocacy in general while still seeing tangible results before giving in and focusing on bigger, more concrete results.
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Step three: Demonstrate
Now that you’ve gotten the groundwork done, it’s time to take one more step and make it more concrete for your leadership. To finish off the work you’ve done so far and add the cherry on the cake, present your decision-makers with:
- Social media strategy ideas. You don’t need to have a long-term social media strategy at this stage, but a helpful exercise is to draft a social media policy for your employees. This is a document outlining essential rules, together with a few dos and don’ts concerning safe interactions online, conflict avoidance, and compliance with the law — just the basic guidelines that will allow your ambassadors to safely and effectively share content online.
- Software solutions. Present a couple of software solutions to enable employee advocacy, explain the pros and cons of each, and voice your personal preference. To impress your higher-ups, what you want in your choice of platform is ease of adoption, intuitiveness to meet the needs of social media newbies, specific and cool features that can make the advocacy experience less monotonous for advocates, and stellar customer assistance.
- Test the waters with a small pilot program. Identify your most active employees, those who are not afraid to stand up for the company online and who are particularly fond of the industry you work in, and ask them to share a certain amount of posts and company-related pieces of content for about two weeks. Then, sit back and see how they react to it. If they’re open to it and you already see some noticeable improvements, then you know these employees will most likely be willing to join your ambassadors’ program.
So there you have it!
Drawing up the perfect pitch to convince your decision-makers that advocacy is such a significant investment can be a bit of a pain. Showing bottom-line impact, and profit and loss (P&L) opportunities is crucial — be straightforward and make it as clear as possible for the high-ups; that’s the key to laying out a strategic plan to obtain leadership buy-in.