Episode 212

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Every business is struggling to be seen and heard. They spend a lion’s share of their budget fighting to find an audience. Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be that hard. They are often overlooking an incredible resource. Their own employees.

Employees can be some of the best advocates for any business; especially with the right system in place. They know the company inside and out, they talk to current and prospective clients about it and, if they love their work and their employer, they probably share that love when they get the opportunity.

What if you could amplify that critical voice for your clients and help them create a program that encouraged their employees to shout it from the rooftops?

Glenn Gaudet, the CEO of GaggleAMP, founded his company with this idea in mind. GaggleAMP helps companies get the most out of their social media efforts with solutions that help amplify their efforts through employee engagement and interaction.

In episode #209 of Build a Better Agency, Glenn and I discussed employee and brand advocacy at length. We talked about incentivizing employees to engage with their company’s social media, recognizing employees as influencers, using advocacy from raving customers and channel partners, and so much more.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • What employee advocacy is and what it looks like in practice
  • How to market employee advocacy strategy to employees and clients
  • Implementing and evolving employee advocacy programs
  • The myriad benefits of the different kinds of brand advocacy
  • Specific strategies to incentivize employee advocacy
  • Common pitfalls when approaching advocacy programs
  • The mission of Glenn’s company, GaggleAMP

The Golden Nuggets:

“We're generating lots of digital engagements that create digital relationships, which hopefully turn into business relationships.” - @glenng Click To Tweet “So what we're doing, if we're doing employee advocacy effectively, is we are propelling not only the brand of the company but the brands of the employees.” - @glenng Click To Tweet “Employees as influencers is becoming a recognized asset within any organization.” - @glenng Click To Tweet “I think there's a lot of power for a lot of different corporate goals in magnifying the employee's voice.” - @glenng Click To Tweet “One of the things we know about today's employees is that they want to be more engaged with the brand that they work for. They work to believe in its mission and its purpose.” - @glenng Click To Tweet

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Ways to Contact Glenn Gaudet:

Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency Podcast, presented by White Label IQ. Tune in every week for insights on how small to midsized agencies are surviving and thriving in today’s market. We’ll show you how to make more money and keep more of what you make. We want to help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable, and if you want down the road, sellable. With 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey everybody, Drew McLellan here from Agency Management Institute. Welcome back. Thanks for coming on back week after week. I am very grateful. Believe it or not, we are listened to in over 115 countries, so thank you all from wherever you may be listening from. I am super grateful that you keep coming back for more.

In today’s episode I want to focus on an opportunity to make a retainer relationship either with existing clients or new clients. If you are an agency that’s been around for a while, odds are you have seen the percentage of clients that have ongoing retainers sort of erode over time. More and more agencies, any time I am with a group of agency owners one of the topics is man, it’s tough to manage a business when everybody is going from project, to project, to project, and there’s no doubt that that is true. So, the reality is for many of us we are looking for ways to have an ongoing retainer based relationship with clients, A, because the truth of the matter is we can be more helpful to a client if we are consistently contributing to their growth or their marketing programs. Two, quite honestly and selfishly, it’s better for our business. It’s easier to run our business when you have at least some percentage of your revenue that you know month in and month out is going to come in, but it’s harder and harder to find things that a client values enough or that are sticky enough that you can expect and a client is willing to sign some sort of ongoing retainer agreement.

So, the topic that we’re going to talk about today I think lends itself really well to that. So, I want to dig into that in a second, but first, couple reminders for you. Number one, I have some great workshops coming up in January. The first one is talking about how to build and nurture your sales funnel, and you are going to leave the workshop with a built out sales funnel. So, you’re going to have all the activities, and a calendar, and all of that. You’re going to have a target list of prospects, so you’re going to do a lot of hands-on work in this workshop. So, if you sign up for that one, come ready to roll up your sleeves and work.

Then right after that, so that workshop is on a Thursday, Friday, and then on Monday, Tuesday of the following week we are back with Mercer Island Group and they have done a lot of work looking at the prospects buying journey. So, how do brands, big and small, think about choosing and agency and what does that buying cycle look like? What is that buyer’s journey and how long is it? Most importantly, what are some key milestones in that buying journey that we should be concentrating on? What the Mercer Island folks are going to talk about is how do you win the attention and favor of your prospects in each of those milestones. In some cases, in milestones where you aren’t even consciously aware that they’re out there. So, that’s going to be fascinating. Both of those are in Orlando Florida. If you know by now if you are a regular listener, it’s January, so Drew is going to be at Disney World because it’s cold in the Midwest.

So, both of them are in Disney property at the beautiful Grand Floridian Resort, and there’s a weekend in between those two workshops. So, I’m just suggesting that maybe it would be a beautiful thing to go to the Thursday, Friday, build out your sales funnel, play at Walt Disney World Saturday and Sunday, and then wrap up your learning with our friends at Mercer Island Group on Monday and Tuesday. You can go over to agencymanagementinstitute.com, click on the training tab and you can read all about those and get registered.

Okay, so let me tell you a little bit about my guest today and his depth of expertise around this. So, Glenn Gaudet owns a company called GaggleAMP, and it is a software that helps brands or agencies create employee engagement programs or advocacy programs around your digital content. So, oftentimes I think we see our clients creating content and then they’re frustrated that their employees won’t retweet it or share it on their Facebook page or things like that, and Glenn and his team have spent the last nine years sort of looking at what it takes to create a great employee advocacy program.

So, I’m sure we’ll talk about the software a little bit, but that’s not really where the focus is going to be. The focus is going to be what does it take to have a great program and how can we as agencies sell that into our clients and how do we help them make it successful, because it’s my supposition that this is great retainer work. This is not a one and done, you’re not going to build this and then let them drive it themselves. This is something that you would do. So, while you’re creating content for them you could marry up the content creation program that you have with this employee advocacy program and say, “Hey, we’re creating all this great content for you, so we also want to make sure that it gets a lot of exposure and a lot of engagement.” And now it is not just about sharing, it’s much bigger than that. We want people commenting, and engaging in each other’s content and all kinds of activities like that which will amplify the company’s brand, the company’s voice and also service the employees as well.

So, that’s why I wanted Glenn to come on the show because I want to pick his brain about how do you build out one of these programs and what are some of the things that we want to make sure we avoid when we’re doing this for clients as we are suggesting it as a new strategy and then the tactics behind it. What are the things we should lean into? What are the things that we should avoid tripping over? So, I can’t wait to have this conversation. Let’s jump into it.

Glenn, welcome to the podcast, thanks for joining us.

Glenn Gaudet:

Drew, thanks for having me on the show.

Drew McLellan:

So, I know that on some of our offline conversations sort of prepping for today’s conversation I know a lot of your work and a lot of the software that you’ve built is all around this idea of getting internal audiences to be advocates for a brand’s content. So, kind of to tee up what I want to talk about today, I want to talk a little bit more about what that’s all about and what it looks like.

Glenn Gaudet:

Sure.

Drew McLellan:

Then also from the agency’s perspective, from my listener’s perspective, how do we build a strategy around this and how do we package this up and help clients deploy it successfully if it is a strategy that makes sense? So, first let’s talk about kind of what internal advocacy looks like in terms of employee advocacy programs and some of the wins and losses, pitfalls around that. Then I’d love to get your thoughts about how as an agency owner or leader, which is who everybody listening is, how do they think about this in terms of taking this idea to their clients, how do they guide their clients through it? What are some of the pitfalls that perhaps they should be mindful of all of that? But, let’s start with it sounds simple, employee advocacy program, but define it for us and then I have some follow-up questions.

Glenn Gaudet:

Sure. One of the things that I’ve seen in the company that I have now, I started nine years ago. So, I’ve seen this progression that’s taken place, and probably a better word is evolution of the space. When people think of employee advocacy, a lot of times there’s different points of view at it, and I think it’s from where you come is the kind of filter that you put on it. So, I’m glad you’re giving me the opportunity to define it, at least the way we see it, and that is if you think about digital marketing today, most companies have all of these folks or employees who are onto themselves their own digital beacon.

Drew McLellan:

Sure.

Glenn Gaudet:

So, these are people that have some level of activity digitally, whether it’d be through a social network, or surfing the web or something. So, from our point of view, the way we see this is how do you make it easy for a company to actually get their employees to be part of the digital marketing efforts? Now, I think we need to abstract that up because you can’t do this in a silo. These digital marketing efforts need to be tied to the digital marketing strategy, which needs to be tied to the corporate strategy.

Drew McLellan:

Sure.

Glenn Gaudet:

Because you’re trying to design what? Outcomes. If you can design outcomes, then whether you’re doing it through maybe a traditional paid approach or organically through all of these beacons, which are your employees, you still want to make sure that everybody’s on the same page and trying to go after the same types of outcomes and leveraging the same strategies, at least at the top level.

Drew McLellan:

Okay, so that was a lot of jargon and buzz words. Give me a specific example of what a company might want to do and how the employee advocacy would play a role in that.

Glenn Gaudet:

Sure. Lead generation. Let’s say you want to do lead generation, and maybe it is part of the strategy that somebody has come up with to do lead generation is to do things like webinars, right?

Drew McLellan:

Okay. Yeah.

Glenn Gaudet:

Pretty common thing.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Glenn Gaudet:

You create some content, you’ve got a webinar with some sort of a signup page, you’re going out there, you’re doing some amount of probably either paid social, or paid search to try to drive people to that.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Glenn Gaudet:

Well, you can certainly have your employees share that, right? And I think what most people think of employee advocacy is oh, I will just get all my employees to share this thing and that’s employee advocacy. The reality is, if you really want to make it effective you want to tie engagements to all of this. So, what are the kinds of things that you can have your employees do to help get a broader audience for, in this case, a webinar? And it would be interacting with the content. Maybe the content’s put out by the brand, maybe the content’s being put out by just a handful of employees, and the other employees are actually going to go in, maybe they’ll like it, maybe they’ll comment on it, they’ll drive up the engagements, and as a result what happens? The social networks then see that.

Drew McLellan:

Sure.

Glenn Gaudet:

They’re getting a lot of engagement. What happens? They show it to more people. I mean, it really is that simple from that point of view, but most people forget about the second part, which is the engagements. They always think about the first part, which is I’m just going to pump a lot of content out there.

Drew McLellan:

Right. So, if I understand it right, what you’re saying is employee advocacy program is creating, and I know that your tool GaggleAMP does this, but even in the broader sense.

Glenn Gaudet:

Yeah, just in, yeah.

Drew McLellan:

Right. I’m going to create some … I have a measurable end goal, which is I want 500 people in a webinar. I’m going to create some content about the webinar.

Glenn Gaudet:

Yes.

Drew McLellan:

I’m going to tease some of the content, I’m going to talk about who the teacher is of the webinar, all of those sort of things, and then I’m going to in some way, shape or form tee it up to the employee base to not only maybe push it out or share, or invite their network to participate, but to also engage with the brand’s sort of official, air quotes, content around the webinar, saying either commenting, liking, whatever it may be, all to basically influence the algorithms of the social networks. Yes?

Glenn Gaudet:

Well, it’s a combination of things. I think there’s certainly an algorithm component to this, but more importantly if you think about humanizing this. So, you talk about putting this out in the brand, and you can certainly do that, but one of the things you can do is you can have the person who is actually in the webinar put it out, and then you can have your employees participate in conversations around that person.

Drew McLellan:

Sure.

Glenn Gaudet:

What that does, it starts to humanize the content. So, when you start to humanize content, what happens? You start to create relationship. It’s hard to do business if you don’t have a relationship.

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely, right.

Glenn Gaudet:

And so, part of what we’re trying to do with employee advocacy is we’re generating lots of digital engagements, which create digital relationships, which hopefully turn into business relationships.

Drew McLellan:

So, if I’m the factory line employee, or I’m the entry level accountant in that big accounting firm, why do I want to do this?

Glenn Gaudet:

So, I think that’s a really good question, and that is something that I think needs to be part of the overall employee advocacy strategy, right? When you start thinking about it, is what’s in it for me from an employee perspective?

Drew McLellan:

This is the place where I would imagine that some brands have tried to do this on their own and it has fallen flat on its face.

Glenn Gaudet:

Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

So, for us as agency folks to be able to go in and sell it to a client, and have the client go, “Yeah, we tried that. Nobody did anything.”

Glenn Gaudet:

Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

So no, I don’t want to pay you for a strategy, and I don’t want to talk about it. So, how do you recommend, what would we bake into the strategy, if we were taking it to the client, to have better outcomes than I suspect sometimes happens in the home grown efforts?

Glenn Gaudet:

Yeah, no, it’s got to be win-win, right? It’s got to be win for the brand but it also has to be win for the employee. The way you create win-wins is you’re having the employees do things which improve their visibility on their social networks, it improves their ability to be their own thought leader within their network. So, it raises their profile and enhances their personal brand along with the professional brand, and the brand of the company.

So, when you start thinking in those terms you actually start thinking about content and engagements a little differently, because it’s not about buy my widget anymore, it’s really about helping the employees to have genuine and authentic conversations by giving them some basic tools and tips and some guardrails to have those out there as it relates to the company and the industry that they’re serving.

Drew McLellan:

So, in your experience, because I’m sure you gather lots of data inside the tool.

Glenn Gaudet:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Drew McLellan:

Let’s say that a company has 100 employees, what’s a reasonable expectation of how many of them would participate in a program like this? Because I’m sure it’s not 100%.

Glenn Gaudet:

No, and you shouldn’t set an expectation that anything is going to be 100%, right? Send out an email. What percent actually open the email?

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Glenn Gaudet:

So, I think if you’re going to be successful in this you have to set your expectations correctly.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Well, and again, I’m thinking about it. If I’m the agency pitching this to a client.

Glenn Gaudet:

Exactly.

Drew McLellan:

You want to set the expectations up on the front end.

Glenn Gaudet:

Absolutely.

Drew McLellan:

So what has your data shown you?

Glenn Gaudet:

So, it’s going to vary. It’s going to vary based on the industry that they’re in, because you used the term factory floor earlier, right? If you’ve got 100 factory floor people versus 100 knowledge workers who have computers during the day, you’re going to have a different engagement strategy for each. So, you’re also going to have to look at the company themselves. What is the company culture within there? I mean, we’ve seen, and you’ve probably seen this too. This company is out there that they’re thinking about doing an employee advocacy program but their company policy states that nobody can access Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Twitter while they’re on company computers.

Drew McLellan:

Right, right.

Glenn Gaudet:

So, I think you have to take a step back and look at some of the environmental and cultural factors that they created in the company to see what you can set as an expectation.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, yeah. What I always love about those policies is that everyone on the planet carries a phone in their pocket, which is a computer, they don’t need to use yours, but nonetheless.

Glenn Gaudet:

Right.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Glenn Gaudet:

And see if the company even has a social media policy because they might have had a social media policy that was written eight years ago that basically says our social media policy says you can’t do anything on social media.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Glenn Gaudet:

Right. So, there’s all these factors that come in, but getting back to you, I’m not trying to dodge the-

Drew McLellan:

I knew we’d get to the answer.

Glenn Gaudet:

But what we see is because the culture makes a huge difference within the organization if people have affinity for the brand.

Drew McLellan:

Right, if they’re proud of where they work and-

Glenn Gaudet:

Yeah. I mean, I think it’s a reasonable expectation to say that you’re going to have between 40 and 60% participating in this, right?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Glenn Gaudet:

You’re never going to have 100% and that shouldn’t be the goal, but here’s what happens. You start with some amount of or some percentage of the group and then conversations take place amongst the employees and that’s what actually drives it. So, the bigger question is it’s not the percentage of the uptake of a successful program, but setting your expectation that whatever that number that you’re shooting for, you’re not going to have it within the first month.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Yeah, it’s going to build over time.

Glenn Gaudet:

It’s going to build over time, absolutely. So, that’s where an agency I think can be really successful, is in setting those expectations correctly, because if they come out of the gate and say, “Okay, well, you know our client is 10,000 employees, so we’re going to get 10,000 employees on the program in the first month.” No, you’re not, and the reason why is one of the things that you’re going to do as an agency, and this is where you need to set expectations, is the program that we design and kick off in day one is going to be a different program that we are doing 12 months from now.

Drew McLellan:

Absolutely, right.

Glenn Gaudet:

So, that is where that expectation comes into play, setting those success criteria, but more importantly, setting the expectation that this is going to evolve, because what’s going to happen is we’re going to start by making a few assumptions. As this program goes in the first month, two, six months, we’re going to be validating some of those assumptions, we’re going to find out we’re wrong in some areas, we’re going to find out we’re incredibly right in other areas. Then we’re going to start evolving the program. Again, this has nothing to do with the tool, by the way. This is all about the program.

Drew McLellan:

Right, absolutely.

Glenn Gaudet:

And you’re evolving this as you go because you’re having those conversations with the employees who are participating, and you’re also having a conversation with the employees who aren’t participating, and you’re learning that there’s certain content in certain types of engagements that people like because they’re getting the positive affirmation back from their followers and friends that oh, hey, I didn’t even know you were working here, or hey, that’s a really interesting topic, can you tell me more about this. Then they start getting more engagements, they have people reaching out to them, digitally. They have people following them now that they hadn’t had before, and all of a sudden that’s where the value proposition really sets in for the employee. It’s like my company is helping me to actually improve my own brand out there.

Drew McLellan:

And I would assume that part of what you’re watching is you’re watching the kinds of content you have available for the employees to interact with, and you’re paying attention to what they are drawn to, what they do share or comment on, what gets very little internal engagement, and then you’re tweaking the content strategy around that, right?

Glenn Gaudet:

Yeah, and the thing is, I mean, some of this is content 101, right? So, most companies know that if all you’re doing is sharing content that goes to a pay-gate of some sort.

Drew McLellan:

Sure, right.

Glenn Gaudet:

Then it’s not going to be really successful. Why would you think that would be successful with your employee advocacy program? More importantly, what you want to do is you want to help find the voice for the employee, and remember it’s the employee’s voice not the company’s voice necessarily. So, you have to think about that again, both from a perspective of the content but also the engagement strategy. So, let me give you an example. You might have some subject matter experts within the organization that the agency has identified. It’s some topic and this company’s got some really core assets from an employee point of view that can really they can talk about this. The agency may find through their listening efforts on behalf of the company that there is a conversation going on either in a maybe LinkedIn post somewhere or there’s a conversation going on on a blog, and what you do is you can have that set of subject matter experts go in there and join the conversation. Now, notice that’s not their 1,000 other employees.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Glenn Gaudet:

Those subject matter experts, and then if it’s on a platform like LinkedIn what you can do is you can have the rest of the employees help drive the engagement around that by liking that and sharing that conversation. It’s much more authentic than just having everybody share the same piec