Product Advocacy: Bridging the Gap Between Innovation and Impact

So, you've spent countless hours dreaming, designing, and refining your product. Now it's time to convince others of its worth — cue product advocacy.

Product advocacy is the art of championing your product within and outside your organization. It's about building a bridge between the innovative features of your product and the tangible impact it can have on your business. But how do you become a successful product advocate? 

In this latest installment of the "Product Builders" podcast, we explore this question, guided by the expertise of our guest, Caroline Albanese, Director of Data Products and Capabilities at Dow Jones. We'll explore highlights from our conversation, including insights for professionals looking to elevate their products within their organizations and the market at large.

The examples and information in this article come from our podcast interview with Caroline Albanese, Director of Data Products and Capabilities at Dow Jones

What is Product Advocacy?

The truth is, product advocacy is not a role but a responsibility. It's a commitment to your product, its vision, and its potential impact. As a product advocate, you are the voice of your product. You are its biggest fan and its sharpest critic. Your job is to ensure your product is understood, appreciated, and utilized to its fullest potential.

Product advocacy is also about understanding your audience. You need to know who they are, what they want, and how your product can solve their problems. It's about communicating clearly and effectively, promoting your product's value, and responding to failure with resilience and a willingness to learn.

But most importantly, product advocacy is about bridging the gap between innovation and impact. It's about taking your product's innovative features and translating them into tangible, real-world benefits. It's about showing stakeholders not just what the product does but how it can change their lives for the better.

Strategies for Effective Product Advocacy

Understand Your Audience

Successful product advocacy starts with a clear understanding of your audience. You need to know who they are, their problems, and how your product can help solve them. This requires research, empathy, and a deep understanding of your product and its potential impact.

Start by identifying your target audience. What features are most important to them? Then, dive deeper. What are their needs, their preferences, their pain points? Once you understand your audience, you can tailor your product advocacy strategy to resonate with them on a deeper level.

Remember, your audience is not a monolith. Different segments of your audience will have different needs and preferences. Cater to these differences by tailoring your messaging and advocacy strategies to each segment. Be flexible, adaptable, and always willing to learn more about your audience.

Translate Features into Business Benefits

When advocating for your product, it's not enough to simply list its features. You need to translate these features into tangible business benefits. Show the business how the product can help them save time, reduce costs, improve efficiency, or achieve their goals.

Remember, stakeholders and users want to know, "What's in it for me?" You can answer this question by translating features into benefits and demonstrating your product's value. Articulating how the product can drive revenue growth, reduce operational costs, or mitigate business risks are examples of how you can make a compelling case for why it deserves backing.

Leverage Data and Success Metrics

Data is a powerful tool in product advocacy. It can help you understand your audience, track your product's performance, and demonstrate its value. Use data to support your claims, highlight your product's success, and guide your advocacy efforts.

For example, you might use data to show how your product has helped increase productivity, reduce errors, or improve user satisfaction. You might also use data to identify areas where your product could improve, allowing you to refine and enhance your product continually. Data and success metrics are your best allies in substantiating your claims about the product's value. Leverage quantitative evidence — user engagement statistics, market growth rates, or return on investment figures — to prove the product's success and potential. This approach not only strengthens your advocacy but also instills confidence among decision-makers.

Foster relationships and collaboration 

Fostering relationships and collaboration across departments can amplify your product advocacy efforts. Building a network of allies ensures that the product receives visibility and support from various facets of the organization. It's about creating a unified front where marketing, sales, customer support, and development teams work together to promote and refine the product.

Communicate consistently and clearly 

Consistent and clear communication is vital. Keeping stakeholders informed about the product's progress, challenges, and milestones ensures that the product remains a priority within the organization. It also demonstrates transparency and accountability, two attributes that can significantly enhance your credibility as an advocate.

PMing is trial and error. It’s understanding things. It’s having experience. But also with that experience comes knowledge and confidence over time.

Implementing and Sustaining Advocacy

Product advocacy is not a one-time effort but a continuous journey. It requires consistent effort, regular communication, and a willingness to learn and adapt. Here's how to implement and sustain product advocacy in your organization. To effectively implement product advocacy, you need a well-rounded strategy. One that encompasses understanding stakeholder perspectives, effective communication, resilience in the face of setbacks, and a clear articulation of value.

You need to foster a culture of collaboration. Encourage feedback, invite input, and promote a sense of shared ownership over the product. This improves your product, strengthens your team, and builds a sense of community around your product.

Communicating with stakeholders requires a nuanced approach, tailoring messages to their unique concerns and priorities. For executives, focus on the product's impact on the company's bottom line and strategic goals. When dealing with teams like marketing or sales, highlight how the product solves customer problems or opens new market opportunities. For end-users or customers, emphasize usability, benefits, and how the product enhances their experience or solves specific issues.

Responding to Failure

Failure is inevitable in product development. But how you respond to failure can make all the difference. As a product advocate, your job is not to avoid failure but to learn from it. When a product doesn't meet expectations, responding constructively is crucial.

First, don't shy away from failure. Acknowledge it, address it, and learn from it. This helps you improve your product and builds trust with decision-makers.

Use failures as learning opportunities to refine the product and your advocacy approach. What went wrong? Why did it go wrong? How can you prevent it from happening again? You can turn failure into a valuable learning experience by asking these questions.

Finally, communicate openly about failure. Gather feedback to understand the root causes of the failure. Communicate transparently with stakeholders about what happened and what steps are being taken to address the issues. Share your lessons learned, your plans for improvement, and your commitment to doing better. This not only demonstrates your resilience but also your transparency and honesty.

Communicating Value

As a product advocate, your key role is to communicate the value of your product. This means showing your audience what your product does and explaining how these features translate into real-world benefits for users and the business. 

Use stories and data to make your case compelling. Instead of simply listing your product's benefits, show them in action. Demonstrating the product's value through customer testimonials, case studies, or pilot projects can be particularly effective.

Lastly, be consistent in your messaging. Keep your value proposition clear, simple, and consistent across all communication channels. This not only strengthens your brand but also makes your product more memorable.

Product advocacy shines because that’s where you have to ensure that your product remains funded, supported and can grow throughout its lifetime.

Where to Start

So, where do you start with product advocacy? Here are a few steps to get you going.

First, get to know your product inside and out. Understand its features, its benefits, and its potential impact. This will give you the knowledge and confidence to advocate for your product effectively. Conduct thorough research to identify key benefits and differentiators. Develop a clear, concise pitch that communicates the product's value proposition. Build a coalition of supporters by identifying and engaging with internal champions and influencers. 

For new product managers, stepping into this dynamic world might seem daunting. But remember, learning never stops. Keep up with industry trends, consumer behaviors, and the latest tech – it's the key to keeping your product and your skills sharp. Having a clear vision for your product not only guides your decisions but also inspires your team to push forward.

Building strong relationships across teams is crucial for effective advocacy and success in the market. Learn to prioritize tasks based on their impact on business goals. It's all about managing resources wisely and ensuring your product delivers real value. And when things don't go as planned, resilience and flexibility will see you through. Embrace feedback as a tool for growth, allowing your product to evolve alongside market needs.

Looking ahead, think about scalability from day one. Planning for growth ensures your product can adapt to new opportunities. Product management is an ongoing journey of challenges and growth. Adopting these strategies will pave the way for success – not just for your product but also for your career.

If you're eager to learn more or have any questions, give us a shout! We're always here to help.

Sign up for Our Newsletter

Stay in the loop! Join our newsletter for monthly updates on industry news, company updates, recent work and job openings.


Let's Work Together

Get In Touch 😊