Brand ambassadors can make a highly effective way to spread your organization’s message. They are effectively a human representation of the brand. To perform correctly, it is essential that they know the brand and its products well. They should have a total understanding of the brand’s voice and personality.
Brand ambassadors are responsible for ensuring that the brand remains visible. They need to deliver a consistent message, that aligns with the organization’s visions and goals. Brand ambassadors cultivate relationships with the brand's fanbase. Indeed brand ambassadors often start as fans of the brand and its products.
What is Ambassador Marketing?
Who is a Brand Ambassador?
The term "brand ambassador" has quite a broad meaning. It includes anybody who you choose to represent your brand, or its associated products, services, or events. These may include influencers, but they are just as likely to be your employees or your customers. We have looked at the specialist case of employee advocacy multiple times previously, including What Is Employee Advocacy? | Everything You Need to Know.
Brand ambassadors market a firm's products at the grassroots level, through "word of mouth," face-to-face or through their personal social channels. They communicate through various means, including social media, emails, messaging, and one-to-one strategies.
There are two types of brand ambassadors:
- Influencers– selected because they are thought leaders online in the field that the brand operates. They have little brand buy-in, but will usually promote the brand's product for money, the brand's product, or services
- True fans – people who have already shown brand loyalty. They will often be either customers or employees. They don't have the social following of real influencers, but they are likely to be powerful advocates for the brand. They are often happy to act as brand ambassadors for free, although they will appreciate free product.
We tend to look at the real fans of a brand when we refer to "ambassador marketing," leaving the influencers to participate in “influencer marketing."
Why Use Ambassador Marketing?
Ambassador marketing is a win-win strategy. Brands connect with people who, in the case of true fans, are already supporters. These people are usually happy to act as ambassadors for a brand they already love and are often eager to set up some form of relationship that recognizes their support for the brand.
Ambassador marketing (like influencer marketing) will always win over paid advertising because of the authenticity of the people involved. Nowadays, people are cynical and disbelieving of advertising and are far more willing to believe what they hear from people they perceive as peers.
Where Can You Find Possible Brand Ambassadors?
Many firms find that their customers make their best brand ambassadors. Some businesses also discover that they have a high-quality group of employees willing to engage in employee ambassador marketing.
The advantage of both customers and employees is that they already know and presumably like a firm's products.
Not all customers will be valuable, however. Your best prospects will be your existing customers who already refer potential customers. Others who could be of value include your regulars, who buy your products frequently, and customers who already share posts about your business or products. Others with some potential are customers on your email list and those who follow you on your social sites, liking your posts.
Of course, you could also consider influencers who have a sizeable audience of the same kinds of people as your customer base. They may not be customers yet, but they may be willing to promote your products – for a fee.
Crazy Egg believes the following are the main criteria for potential influencers:
- They have an online presence
- They have leadership skills
- They gather insight
- They understand marketing
- They’re professional
- They’re relationship-driven
Brand Ambassador Strategies to Consider
Although there are multiple ways that brands can choose to work with their ambassadors, we can classify most of these strategies as being online reviews, social media, or using ambassador/affiliate marketing software.
Online reviews have become vital to the successful sales of many companies. And looking at the statistics, it’s easy to understand why. For a start, 91% of millennials trust online reviews as much as friends and family. More than half of consumers won’t use a business if it has less than a 4-star rating. Combine that with the fact that 83% of customers don’t trust advertising, and it's easy to see the power of online reviews.
A brand’s ambassadors are the most suitable people to do reviews. They already love the product, and will happily leave a positive review with little needed in the way of an incentive. Brands may choose to pay their online reviewers or send them gifts; however, they must leave the reviewers to express honest, authentic reviews. The review sites don't take kindly to anything that looks like review manipulation.
As with influencer marketing, brand ambassadors use the full gamut of social media networks to spread their message. Firms want to concentrate on the networks that their potential clients use most often, and if their ambassadors are in any way typical of their client base, then they probably use the same platforms.
Brand ambassadors share content or links that relate to the brand with their friends and family.
Using Specialist Ambassador Software
There are now quite a few specialist software solutions to automate the brand ambassador process. You can use these to provide suitable content for ambassadors to share and to incentivize them to participate in the program. The software tracks the ambassadors’ progress and determines the ROI for ambassador campaigns.
Types of Brand Ambassador Program
The most common types of brand ambassador programs are:
- Affiliate marketers – there is a formal partnership between a brand and its "affiliates," who are usually bloggers or influencers. They promote a brand in return for a commission on sales made as a result of somebody buying the product because of their promotion. Amazon was the first to set up an affiliate program. Their affiliates put special links on their websites, and if somebody follows through the link and buys something, Amazon pays between 1% and 10% of the money spent to the affiliate, depending on the product.
- Informal brand ambassadors – as the name suggests, informal brand ambassadors often promote a product simply because of their love for it. They don't sign any formal contracts with the brand, and often don't receive any payment for their work. They love the product, so they choose to spread the word to their friends and family.
- College ambassadors – this is a specialist ambassador marketing scheme, where brands partner with students. A student promotes a product they like to their network of fellow students. College ambassadors sometimes operate in person, handing out product samples, putting up posters, and other more innovative techniques to promote the company’s product on campus.
- Requirements-driven ambassadors – these brand ambassadors usually have to complete specific actions on behalf of a brand in a set time. The brand will often give free products to people who meet their requirements. It may be as simple as receiving a free download of a software product in return for making a tweet. At the other extreme, influencers who agree to make a certain number of posts on behalf of a brand are also an example of requirements-driven ambassadors.
Steps in a Brand Ambassador Strategy
Identify Suitable Brand Ambassadors
Once you have decided to set up a brand ambassador program of a particular type and set goals for your campaign, then you need to begin the process of finding brand ambassadors. This will, of course, depend on the kind of brand ambassador program you use. Amazon, for instance, does not need to look for affiliates nowadays. People apply to them to enter their program, and Amazon can select the affiliates of their choice. Informal brand ambassadors will usually select themselves, whether the business wants them or not.
If you want a more formal band ambassador program (other than affiliate marketing), the brand will have to identify potential brand ambassadors. This is particularly so if they wish to work with their best customers.
You could begin by looking at social media. Who has positively engaged most with your recent posts? Who posts regularly about your brand, using your branded hashtags or keywords?
You might want to take a look at product review sites, taking notice of who have written positive reviews about your brand.
You can also look at forums and groups, such as Facebook Groups and SubReddits.
You may already have created an email list, and you could consider contacting these people. Your Sales CRM will probably also include contact details for your existing customers.
You will want to review each potential brand ambassador to ensure that they would be suitable for the role. This is particularly important if you wish them to create content. Do they write coherently and/or share quality photographs in their other social posts?
You want to work with people who can come across as authentic. It is probably worth checking that you aren't going to work with people who will happily promote anyone, including your opposition's products.
Outreach to Potential Ambassadors
Once you've made a list of potential influencers, you are going to need to contact them with a proposal. If you are using specialist ambassador software, you might have templates that simplify this part fo the process.
You could send personalized emails to your potential ambassadors, outlining your proposal. Alternatively, you could connect with them on their preferred social network site.
Motivate and Empower Your Ambassadors
If you have selected your potential brand ambassadors well, they will be happy to act as a brand ambassador. However, you will need to make their life easier. If you want them to produce social posts, you could give them some samples they can use. Even if you prefer them to act more naturally, creating their posts themselves, you should provide them with suitable high-quality images they can use.
Create clear briefings of what you desire, and make your requirements clear. Give them access to a FAQ or brand guidelines, and ensure that they have a secure channel to make contact if they have any questions to ask.
If you want them to continue to amplify your brand, motivate them with free products or other forms of bonus gifts.
Set up Your Campaign
Many firms use ambassador marketing campaigns to increase sales of a particular product. You do have to realize that it is a long-term game, though. It isn’t something that you would use once for a short-term campaign. You need to invest time and money into ambassador marketing and eventually receive some form of return for your efforts.
When you set up each campaign, you need a specific goal, and you need to decide on appropriate metrics to measure your campaign's success. Suitable metrics could include:
- Content reach
- Lifetime value of a customer
- Once you have set your goals, designed your campaign, found your brand ambassadors, and decided on essential and relevant metrics, you are ready to run your campaign.