When designing and running any eﬀective and engaging marketing program or
campaign, it’s key to know who your audience is and speak their language, so to
speak (pardon the pun).
Most companies have already developed personas to help them better understand,
market and sell to their buyers. But they often stop there. What about existing
customers, partners and employees who have not only already invested in a
relationship with your company, but who have also become enthusiastic advocates
for your brand?
BUYER PERSONAS VS. ADVOCATE PERSONAS
Developing a framework with which to better understand your advocates is just as
important as understanding your potential buyers – especially if you’re going to invite
them into an advocate marketing program. While there are often some similarities
among these personas, what motivates someone to buy isn’t the same as what
motivates them to advocate for your brand over the long-term.
TALKIN’ TO ME?
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ADVOCACY
When considering implementing an advocate marketing program, an objection that
many marketers have is: “That sounds great and all, but my customers, partners or
employees would never do that.” Those marketers are wrong.
Here’s why: It’s simply human nature to advocate for things you love, whether they’re
restaurants, movies, smartphones or enterprise business-to-business software.
People become advocates because they’re hardwired to connect with others,
establish relationships and build social capital.
WHO ARE YOUR ADVOCATES AND
WHAT MAKES THEM TICK?
Beyond human nature, however, there are unique qualities among individual
advocate types that marketers must take into consideration. What motivates and
engages an executive in an advocate marketing program is likely to be very different
from what will appeal to a marketer or a salesperson, for example.
Understanding the persona(s) you are targeting with your program and the individual
activities within it can help you design invitations, challenges, rewards, and messaging
that appeal specifically to that audience, generating higher levels of engagement.
Here, we’ll look at executives, what defines that persona, and how to position your
message to address the key challenges they face. More and more companies are
starting to build advocate marketing programs within their organizations to mobilize
their customers and other fans to write glowing product reviews, provide genuine
referrals, recommendations and references, and participate in content creation and
COMING SOON: HOW TO ENGAGE…
• Project Managers • Consultants
• Educators • And more!
Sign up now to receive more information about what
motivates your advocates as it is released.
Ambition, balance, and motivation to grow. These are three qualities that are almost
always found in an executive. While an executive’s experience will vary depending on
the industry they work in, they often have similar traits.
ENTJ, ALL THE WAY
The well-regarded Myers-Briggs personality type indicator pegs executives as a
clear-cut part of the “ENTJ” group, which means they tend to rank high in extraversion,
intuition, thinking, and judging. They are natural-born leaders.
YIN TO MY YANG
It’s all about balance for executives—which is a quality that makes them suited for
managerial positions. According to a study conducted by the Annual Conference
of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology in
Chester by psychologists from OPP Ltd., senior executives are highly emotionally
invested in their work, yet experience the least amount of stress compared to others in
managerial positions. That’s because they have a greater balance over the demands of
their job, and are in control of the work environment.
NOT ONE IN THE SAME
Interestingly, while an executive’s personality can vary depending on situation, company
history, size, industry, and tenure, traits like independence, dominance, and confidence
are either there to begin with, or adopted in order to cope with demands of the role,
reports the aforementioned study.
THREE KEY MOTIVATING FACTORS
They want to push their career forward, climb up the proverbial corporate ladder,
and broaden and deepen their skill set and expertise.
In order for an executive to be perceived as a success, his or her organization must be
successful. This means executives are in constant pursuit of new ways to improve their
company. They tend to consult with other leaders and reputable resources to uncover
new insights on how to generate more value for stakeholders.
Executives like to nurture and develop their teams and know who the key contributing
members are. They also want to have a positive impact on others. Russell Reynolds
Associates, a New York-based executive leadership and research firm, analyzed
nearly 4,000 executive assessments, including more than 130 CEOs, and found that
team building is a big part of what makes up the typical CEO, including traits like being
an efficient reader of people, pragmatically inclusive, and willing to trust.
“They are more interested in status and visibility,
and also more closely aligned with their company’s
overall business objectives.
Marketing Manager at Intuit
“They like to speak with other executives, generally. They want
to speak broadly at a high-level. Never match executives with
an administrator who’s in the weeds. They dislike hearing
about day-to-day operations and minute details.
North America Reference Coordinator at Ceridian HCM
“Authority and leadership is what separates
influential executives from the pack. Focus on
their pain points, needs, and aspirations—not
yourself. That’s the most effective way to build
trust with them.
Head of Marketing Strategy at Aryaka
Leading a team doesn’t necessarily mean exerting control, or throwing out a team of
micro managers. But it does mean having a hand, or at least knowledge, of everything
that’s going on in the company.
And that means executives are exceedingly busy. Someone is always knocking at the
door, calling on the phone, or buzzing in via e-mail looking for answers, insight, and
directions. Their time is precious, and very carefully budgeted and planned. “Never
overestimate the amount of time they will devote to listening to you,” says Davin.
“They won’t read anything longer than 200 words with no bullets, and they won’t wade
through the fluff to find the point of your content. You have to give it to them quickly in
That said, executives are also multitaskers extraordinaire, so they can handle more
than the average Joe. Ensure your program helps them grow personally, drives value
for their business, or helps advance members of their team. Remember, anything that
helps improve their company will reflect well on them, too. And they know this.
AND HOW TO ADDRESS THEM
“It’s all about the bottom line for them—revenue
growth, cost savings/avoidance, and return on
investment. You have only a few seconds to get your
point across, so make a strong story using metrics.“
Director, Customer Success Marketing at Mitel
MAKE IT QUICK
That said, time is still one of the most valuable factors in an executive’s day. So make
challenges quick and easy, and ensure they require minimal commitment. Think about
it this way: when an executive responds to an e-mail, is it more often with a three-
paragraph diatribe, or a short, to-the-point one-liner? Chances are it’s the latter. Let them
do the same when participating; cut through the fat, and just give them the lean meat.
THAT DON’T IMPRESS ME MUCH
Other personas may get giddy at the idea of winning a gift card or hot new tech toy.
But executives are seldom influenced by such rewards. They are looking for far more
abstract and less tangible things—resources or opportunities for them to enhance
their professional toolkit or their network, or other experience-driven rewards, like
lunch with a known industry expert. If they want a coffee, they’ll buy a coffee. Give
them something money can’t buy.
SHOW HOW TO GROW
As noted, executives are focused on growth—their own, their company’s, and that of
their team. As long as your advocacy program can clearly show how participation will
assist on this front, it’ll be successful.
SAVE THE HYPERBOLE
An executive doesn’t care for over-exaggerated marketing jargon. Cut to the chase,
be clear and concise, and respect the value of their time. This doesn’t mean you need
to be completely wooden, but keep the fun portions easy to get through. Bottom line:
keep it simple.
“Executives have a short attention span, so you have to be smart
with that first level of engagement. Once you have their attention,
it’s all gravy from there.
Senior Customer Retention Marketing Manager at Netbase
CURATE SOME CONTENT
Act like a content aggregator for industry-specific items that they might want to read
or comment on. If you can help them establish themselves as a leader in their field,
they’ll be appreciative. This might include everything from relevant blog posts, to
reports or forum discussions.
STROKE THE EGO
Executives like to be heard, and like to know that they are being heard. “Executives love
doing surveys and giving candid feedback,” says Kevin. If they provide you with valuable
feedback on your products and services, make sure they know how you are incorporating
their suggestions. Give them exclusive access to beta releases and let them vote on your
PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH
Why would customer executives participate in your program if your own executives
aren’t? Nilesh Surana, Marketing Manager at Aryaka Networks, says that CXOs usually
view marketers as sales people—and not as great sources of information. This is why
getting your higher ups active in your program will boost your credibility and encourage
customer executives to join in. Once they see that other execs are on board, they’ll be
more likely to interact.
“Focus on building long-term relationships
with executives—not hitting short-term
Marketing Manager at Aryaka Networks
Respecting an executive’s busy schedule is a challenge. However, they will make time
to participate in your advocate marketing program if you provide enough value and
demonstrate growth potential. “Always let them know what’s in it for them and their
organization. They aren’t likely to move unless you give them a reason to,” says Davin.
You’ll have to get creative with rewards, too. These aren’t tangible gifts that you can
pick up at the local shop. You’ll need to put on your thinking cap to come up with
creative rewards they’ll be excited to receive. But strike the right chord, and your
advocacy program will make it to the ‘Favorites’ bar of that busy exec.
Facilitate mentorship and coaching
relationships through your advocate
Share interesting content that is
relevant to the C-levels’ interests
and the challenges they face.
Position your program as a place of
learning. Give executives early access
to relevant and interesting content,
and encourage them to showcase
their expertise in discussions.
Give executives exclusive access
to beta releases and ask them
for product improvement ideas.
Executives are generally keen on
influencing your roadmap.
Pro-tip: Include asks directly in
blog posts or other web pages.
This will make executive advocates’
participation quick and seamless.
(This example uses Influitive’s
Influitive’s AdvocateHub is a complete advocate
management platform that helps B2B marketers
capture customer enthusiasm, and use it to
turbocharge marketing and sales efforts. With
AdvocateHub, B2B marketers build advocate
communities where customers, fans and evangelists
can complete “challenges” like referrals, reference
calls, product reviews and much more.
Now that you know more about what motivates executives to advocate for your company,
it’s time to take action with Influitive’s powerful advocate marketing software.
VISIT INFLUITIVE.COM TO LEARN MORE
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