What is Marketing Advocacy?
We get this question all the time and its not surprising that most business people are new to the concept. Strictly speaking, an advocate is one who represents orspeaks on behalf of another person and it's more commonly used in a legal settings (Thus the "talking head" in our logo). But it's the context behind the term advocacy that we liked. An advocate is one who - by definition - is looking out only for your interests, not their own. They have no agenda other than your success. If they do, they're not your advocate. And THAT is what we have always felt is missing in today's big world of marketing resources and options. So we set out to build a team of advocates that approach marketing differently.
The Structure of Advocacy
For starters, we're small, and we can't do it all ourselves. And that gets to the heart of things. A big agency has all sorts of staff and skills - flash developers, web guys, Photoshop jockeys, ad copywriters, etc - all of which they need to put to work. This affects what they will recommend to clients. Even your employees can't be completely objective advocates - after all - they are trying to get ahead within the organization.
We, on the other hand, are just three people. But we come equipped with the most important skills in any marketing initiative: messaging, design and project management. And we augment them as needed - but only as needed - with best-of-breed external resources, basically other freelancers. Unbiased by skill sets we don't employ, we're free to be much more objective in what we recommend - even if that means we don't do any work at all - which happens more often than not...
The Philosophy of Advocacy
Part of the reason I started Idea-ware in 2002 was to focus only on the work I enjoyed doing. And to this day our guiding philosophy is that we look first - for fun clients and work that we enjoy, and second - a fair wage. Our track record on that has been great. For seven years we've managed to do what we love, with clients we enjoy, and made a living doing it! Isn't that really what its all about??
The Results of Advocacy
The advocacy approach results in happier, more self-sufficient clients, more credibility for us, and a better reputation for outsourced marketers everywhere (we hope!). Since we can't do it all, we look for ways to let clients do things for themselves, easily and cost effectively. Sometimes that means not doing work at all for them, but instead, showing them a way to do it themselves with some web-based DIY solution that works just fine at no cost. We may not see anything but gratitude that go-around, but inevitably we're at the top of the list when they need something next time.
So that's what we mean by "Marketing Advocacy". Next time you have a marketing need, listen carefully to what advice you get. If it sounds like there is an agenda at work there, maybe it's time to get yourself an advocate.