If you’re anything like most reference professionals with which we engage, the day-to-day focus of our jobs revolves around executing key reference deliverables. Whilst that is to be expected, all too often internal and external reference programme communication is left forgotten or overlooked – to be handled another day. Richard Walsh provides his views on how best to give a voice to your customer reference programme.

are you promoting your reference programme?

So here’s the challenge: As important as creating reference content is, giving a voice to your programme is equally so 

Having, and executing a plan to promote your reference programme is crucial to engaging all stakeholders, gathering programme feedback and increasing personal and programme visibility. After all, we can create all the reference materials in the world but if no one knows about them and the great job you are doing, how can we achieve success?
Simply put, reference programmes need a communications plan and a fair weighting of time to execute.Here are a few tools and ideas to get you started:Elevator pitch & build relationships
A 30 second ‘this is me and what my programme does’ is a simple but effective tool. Take time to meet people because you never know who’s going to be interested

Sales meetings
Create face time with your sales teams. Giving solid examples of how the reference programme directly benefits sales is key to their engagement

Reference your reference programme
Amazingly we often forget to practice what we preach. Find evangelists within sales and marketing to support your programme, word of mouth is powerful

Communicate internal news, processes and new materials available. Contrary to popular belief e-newsletters are No1 at engaging teams within a corporate environment

Whether these are internal or external, give yourself a platform to meet your stakeholders face-to-face. Embedding references into the CEO’s presentation is a must

Create a brand
Branding isn’t just for a business – it’s relevant to reference programmes too. People need to know how to describe you and where to find you. Branding gives you that identity

Online & social media
There is so much to do in this space but here are a few thoughts. Deliver reference webinars, engage with your customer forums, have customers’ blog about their latest product experience or tweet about the latest widget release – remember always link it back to the reference programme.

Marketing campaigns
Use customers as the face of your campaigns by getting closer to the marketing and creative agency teams. Deliver great customer experiences to fit in with the campaigns. There’s no better business wide exposure than delivering a company-wide campaign.

Richard Walsh