We’re true believers in the change management model from Prosci. Successful customer marketing and advocacy programs (CMA) all have effective change management at the center of their operations. Often it is the program manager’s innate understanding of what’s required rather than an organization having people formerly trained in the discipline. The Prosci model includes Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement (ADKAR) components, and each one must be addressed to help people move from current to future state smoothly and completely.

This post is all about the Reinforcement component, the actions taken to ensure that change sticks in the long term. Since organizations naturally change, a change manager must be thoughtful, persistent and vigilant to behaviors sliding back to the “old way.” Champions in leadership come and go. CMA stakeholders in sales, marketing, customer success and elsewhere turnover. Each time the personnel change there is the possibility for regression, which can spread through an organization like a virus.

To build up an immunity to regression, the best course is to embed your CMA program into the company’s DNA. That means it becomes a part of existing and new processes, events, and systems with the end goal of becoming entrenched in the collective headspace of the organization. To continue with the biology metaphor, if this new CMA “organism” isn’t recognized by the “body” it has a high likelihood of being rejected, as opposed to a symbiotic relationship that is viewed as mutually beneficial and important to sustain.

Lots of hypotheticals so far. Let’s talk specifics.

Onboarding

This is your opportunity to establish the desired behaviors and prevent regressions starting with day one of new employees. The onboarding agenda should include a session on your program, how advocates can and should be used in various roles (e.g. lead gen), why they should be used, what services your program provides, and any systems that support the CMA function. By exposing new hires early on, you address the Awareness, Desire, Knowledge and Ability components of change-management. One of the most squishy areas to pin down is Desire. A discussion regarding the common reasons people resist changes that come with a CMA program is totally appropriate at this point. Many new hires will have come from organizations not yet enlightened about CMA, so the change in their case is from past experience to your enlightened organization. How do you know if the information conveyed stuck? Test them!

Meetings

As a CMA leader, you want maximum visibility among your stakeholder teams such as events, PR, social, digital, and content; as well as sales and customer success or account management. Repetition is key. You don’t want to just show up once in a while, or only when you think you have something important to share. You want to become a fixture in meetings and establish a cadence of information sharing and solicitation. Trust in you and your program removes resistance to reliance on you. Getting to know you, how you think, and hearing examples of how you’ve supported campaigns, opportunities and events; this lays the foundation for trust. Being part of team meetings makes you a part of those teams, which is not only the perception, but the reality you want to create. You’re there to help them meet their goals, and therefore the organization’s goals.

Playbooks

If you use technology like Seismic, then you are familiar with playbooks. Playbooks provide guidance to employees creating and managing campaigns, managing various phases of opportunities, planning events, you name it. They contain repeatable steps that have produced successful results. Your program should be represented in the relevant playbooks. That’s another way to stay top-of-mind at the right junctures in a whole variety of processes. Not being in these playbooks sends the message that CMA is not sanctioned (and supported) by the organization. It’s not important.

Communications

Just like meetings, company communications provide an avenue for you to be visible. And just like meetings, your visibility should be consistent—ever present. So whether it’s a weekly report, newsletter, Slack, video or any other method that’s used to keep the “troops” informed, be there. Share your advocate expertise, program successes, and added resources or services.

Dashboards

If dashboards are a common way to share information with stakeholder teams, or the entire organization, be sure CMA is represented. It could be the number of opportunities influenced by advocates this month or quarter. It could be a view of your advocate pool for specific, high-demand segments. Leaderboards for campaigns you’re running always encourage participation. Choose whatever is of most interest to your stakeholders, something they’ll pay attention to, and which helps tell your CMA program story.

Growth Goal Alignment

We’ve written a lot about this topic in previous posts, because it’s so important. If your program is built to support your CxOs’ growth goals it will automatically demonstrate its integration into the organization’s DNA. Back to the biology metaphor, the CMA program becomes an integrated, necessary function in a complex business organism, which would be harmed should it cease to exist.


Establishing a Customer Marketing and Advocacy program in your organization goes way beyond launch. You must maintain a mindset of achieving program integration with the organization. From onboarding new talent to ensuring visibility through meetings and communications and exuding alignment with CxO goals, each fortifies the CMA’s role and ultimately modifies the organizations DNA. This is how the CMA program becomes a vital component in achieving long-term success and builds resilience against regression. Remember, the real victory in change management lies not just in initiating change, but in making it stick.