This article was taken from a talk given by Katie Smeal at the Customer Marketing Summit, hosted by our sister community the Product Marketing Alliance in September 2021. Since then, Katie has taken on a new role as Director of Customer Marketing and Advocacy at Outreach. Congratulations, Katie!

Hi there, I’m Katie Smeal and I'm a Senior Customer Advocacy Manager at DocuSign, where I’m helping to build and launch our new customer advocacy program. Before I joined DocuSign’s team, I was responsible for creating and launching VMware’s global customer advocacy community, which was a hugely exciting and rewarding challenge.

The beauty of building a customer advocacy community

I’m here today to talk about how we move away from the traditional transactional way of doing reference recruitment and start building a holistic customer advocacy community.

In the spirit of community, I thought I would start us off with a definition. If you look it up, community is “a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” As human beings, we crave connections with others through shared stories and experiences – that's how we create a true community.