Other than, “Can I pet your dog?” One of the most common questions we get asked at ExpertVoice is, “How do you get new experts?” and “How are you growing your audience?” For answers to these questions we turn to Chris Cochella, the head of strategic partnerships for ExpertVoice. In this role Chris is responsible for getting more of the most qualified experts to sign up. We sat down with Chris to ask him a few expert acquisition questions:
Give us a quick overview of what you do as the head of strategic partnerships?
First and foremost, I work to uphold our ultimate purpose of helping consumers make better buying decisions resulting in better experiences whatever their passion might be.
As head of strategic partnerships I have three key responsibilities that combine to result in our vision of better consumer purchase decisions. The first responsibility is to understand the needs and objectives of our partnering organizations (think International Hunter Education Association, American Alpine Club and National Ski Patrol). The second responsibility is to use this understanding to explore and discover ways we can work with our partners — to find win-win solutions — to grow their community while also increasing the quality of the ExpertVoice community. The third responsibility is to provide ongoing support for the long-term, trusting relationships we have built together.
What/who are partnering organizations?
Our partners come in all shapes, sizes and cultures. Generally speaking, they are organizations of industry leaders, influencers and professionals. We have partners that range from guides and outfitters to large not-for-profit certification groups like American College for Sports Medicine to governing bodies like U.S. Ski and Snowboard.
Is the expert audience growing? How do you grow it?
Yes, it is growing on a partner by partner basis as well as increasing our impact with manufacturing brands through engagement like honest, in-depth product reviews. Once we discover how our partner’s interests align with those of ExpertVoice we can help grow their organization and grow our expert audiences at the same time. ExpertVoice community benefits provided to these organizations incentivizes more people to join. In turn, as these partnering organizations grow, so does the expert audience.
We grow our expert audience the old fashioned way by nurturing trusted relationships that result in win-win outcomes.
What’s a recent partnership that you’re excited about? How does this partnership help brands?
Can I offer 2?
The first is the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE). AIARE provides curriculum to train professionals and recreational experts in snow safety. We are excited about the outcome of this relationship because we have been able to grow their enrollment in higher level courses by more than 50% while increasing our expert audience by about 5000 in Q4 of 2019. This partnership helps brands by creating brand ambassadors in the form of snow professionals that are able to advocate for consumers on the best backcountry gear for safe and enjoyable winter experiences.
The second example is our partnership with the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA). IHEA provides hunter education curriculum that promotes safe and compassionate hunting practices by partnering with state agencies. State agencies engage over 50,000 volunteer instructors to deliver the education at a local level. We are excited about this partnership because the volunteer instructors are committed, passionate and caring community members that want to pass along their legacy of experience to the next generation of hunters. These folks are tried and true experts. Brand manufacturers we work with are thrilled to engage these instructors so that they can pass along the best equipment purchase advice to consumers on their lifelong journey as hunters.
How do you identify which partners to work with?
There are many factors to identifying which partners to work with. First and foremost are the partner communities that brands find valuable for building long-lasting, trusted relationships. For example, Vortex Optics, a manufacturer of rifle scopes, binoculars and other hunting optics has an invaluable connection to IHEA members. From there, the best relationships are those where the partner organization also appreciates being part of a trusted community that is committed to participating in honest dialogue about their experience with products. As they engage with more brands and products, they are able to identify what’s best for consumers. When these two priorities come together, our purpose of helping consumers make better buying decisions is realized through the elevated expertise and expert product recommendations.
What are the benefits of working with partners?
The main benefit of working with a partner organization and community is that our partners understand and know their own culture and industry better than we do. I mean, who understands the needs of a professional fitness trainer more than the organization? Or, who knows hunter education instructors better than the IHEA? Through finding the common purpose and passion of both ExpertVoice and the partnering organization we can achieve great results for our brands, our passionate experts and most importantly, the consumers.
And that’s how we, or Chris, does it. If you have any questions about how you can get an organization that’s important to you or your brand partnered with ExpertVoice, don’t hesitate to reach out at EVPartners@expertvoice.com. Or if you’re interested in connecting with our community of industry leaders, influencers and experts, just reach out here.