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BLOGBuilding Downstream Capacity with your Partners

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Growth, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Social MediaTagged as: , ,

Have you ever heard the expression “you’re only as strong as your friends?”  No where is this more true than with digital marketing.

Too achieve a particular objective, organizations will often invest in a focused campaign.  It has a beginning, middle, and end.  Its results can be measured.  And when the results come back, it will either be a success, or it will not.  Sadly, the question of could the campaign have done better rarely get asked.  Even more rarely asked is should we have invested somewhere completely different?

There is one group that is often taken for granted: external partners.  This can be members, volunteers, suppliers, media, or any other stakeholder outside of the organization.  Strangely, these groups are all assumed to be expertly capable with digital, completely up-to-date with your messages, and perfectly aware of their key role in helping move common goals forward.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Many are too busy with their own problems to be concerned with yours.  And if they do have some degree of digital and Social Media knowledge, it is likely focused on achieving their goals – not yours.

Building downstream capacity means helping external partners/stakeholders be more effective using digital tools to achieve their objectives.  When you do so, they will be equipped – and more open – to using these tools, including Social Media, to help you achieve yours.  And unlike campaigns, the return on this investment is cumulative: as they become more digitally fluent, and become more comfortable with your organization, they will become ever-stronger advocates and ambassadors.

Example ideas to improve downstream capacity:

  • Keynote presentation at a conference on how they can use Digital (including Social Media) to achieve their objectives.
  • Newsletter or Magazine article on the subject.
  • Development of a no-cost digital resource toolkit that shares ideas on the subject
  • Webinars on the subject
  • Half-day seminars on the subject
  • Tweet-chats on the subject
  • Social Media (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc) discussions on the subject.
  • Newsletters and blasts celebrating successes
  • Gamification: leaderboards and other mechanisms to encourage/identify/reward participation


Before building downstream capacity, or even thinking about it, reach out to your primary external partners (members, agents, clients, etc) and ask them what they might need to be successful in their own backyards.  Only then might you have a clue as to how you can help them help themselves… and ultimately help you.

Marketing Insight:  Sometimes an argument is made that it isn’t “the role of the organization” to build capacity externally.  We disagree fundamentally with this, as building downstream capacity amplifies the effective execution of all of the organization’s digital initiatives – and real-world ones.  And even if the argument were true, building downstream capacity is still the responsibility of the organization for one simple reason:  risk mitigation.  Embedded within the How to messaging is equally powerful Don’t do’s.  Finally, building downstream capacity is an exercise of building stronger relationships – something that always will pay dividends.

Does this topic resonate? Reach out to Randall: he can present it to your group.  (More presentation topics)
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Randall Craig

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