4 Reasons Your Company Needs a Brand Ambassador Program
Your company may not be doing very well. Not only are your sales low, several customer service mishaps have greatly affected your business. Some customers caused drama at your store while others turned to social media to shame you.
Now your competitors are reaping from your misfortunes.
Your company urgently needs to get back into the game. Not only do you have a business to protect, but also some lives to sustain. Employees need their monthly salaries. Creditors need to be paid on time. New customers need to be treated well while the existing ones expect the consistent availability of great products.
Your company should by now have ventured into new markets but hasn’t. Employees were to get great perks as part of their benefits but this is yet to happen. You are not even sure about it happening. Your focus is currently on turning things around—fast.
Although your marketing team does a good job, you need more than they are delivering. You need leads to be converted and sales to be closed. But just how do you get all that at a time when things aren’t working according to your plans?
You will be happy to know that there is a marketing tactic which can help you get back on track. It is called a brand ambassador program.
This is a program where you enroll one or more individuals to help you achieve your marketing goals.
This articles discusses the different types of brand ambassador programs and tells you what situations call for them to be used for marketing.
WHO EXACTLY IS A BRAND AMBASSADOR?
A brand ambassador is someone who your company chooses to represent it. His main duty is to speak positively about your brand and inform people about your products or services.
Typically, brand ambassadors are influential people in the society. They have a big following and their words and actions are easily embraced by those they influence. Though brand ambassadors used to be celebrities, that has gradually changed.
They can be anyone who has enough influence to move people towards making certain decisions. They also need to embody the ideals of your brand.
What do they do?
Brand ambassadors are tasked with marketing your products and services. As such, they are an arm of your marketing team. Marketing has evolved over time and brand ambassadors provide a very necessary aspect of marketing—the human aspect.
Let’s face it. Most marketing today is digital.
From emails, text messages to online posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Most emails are generally ignored and they end up cluttering the recipient’s inbox. In fact, many of your marketing emails may be getting marked as spam.
If your emails are labeled as spam by enough people, you will soon be in bigger problems than you know. One major problem you may face comes when your email server gets blacklisted. When this happens, your company will not be able to send any email to other companies. This will greatly affect your business and you’ll have to stop everything else to deal with that.
Providing the human aspect to your marketing campaigns is crucial. People identify with other people more than with mere marketing material. If you just send text messages or emails to someone who is at work, he may be too busy to read them. If you send them while he’s at home, he may be too tired to read them. If however this person hears the person he follows talk about you, he will most likely pay attention.
Brand ambassadors also represent your company in various settings. For example, there may be a community event in a location where your company is not currently operating in.
Or your company simply had not planned to showcase anything there. Your brand ambassador may put up a desk to promote you. If that is not possible, he may receive from you materials like pamphlets and brochures to distribute.
Why do they do it?
Brand ambassadors do what they do to increase your market reach. They advocate for your brand so that you are able to reach new customers and maintain the current ones.
If your organization is a not-for-profit, then their efforts will be to get more people to partner with you.
All brand ambassadors start in either of two ways:
- Volunteers – these commonly start as your customers. They have bought your products, love them and are now loyal fans. Out of their love for your products, they spread the news of how they have changed their lives. They share this information, not so that you notice them but just to enlighten those they love. Their intention is to make those close to them become aware of a better product in the market. Others may not necessarily be your loyal customers. They may just identify with what your company stands for, your values and what you do in the community. As a result, they help increase the awareness of your brand.
- Hired marketers – these may or may not have had any prior interaction with your company. They are picked from a list of preferable brand ambassadors and enlightened on your products. They then leverage their networks to create awareness and advocate for what you sell. They are usually highly influential people especially on the online platforms. They have developed an authoritative voice which shapes people’s opinions. What they say is believed and they easily move people to take action.
Brand ambassadors work to get you more visibility. This visibility then results in whatever you want to achieve. If you want more sales, then that’s what you will get. If you want registrations for your event, they will push for that.
If you want financial contributions for a worthy cause, they will help you with that. It is all about what you want to achieve.
Generally, they come between you and the society to create a good impression of your company. When you are painted in positive light, you are able to achieve your goals more easily.
Are they paid?
All brand ambassadors are paid marketers in the sense that they either get a regular pay from your company or some negotiated benefits. Even those who start as volunteers, if they get enrolled into your company’s official brand ambassador’s program, they will enjoy some form of benefit.
What they get and how they get it is agreed upon when enrolling them. Remember that you are getting access to their networks for marketing. This is guaranteed to generate more revenue for you. Especially when it comes to those already established with a huge following.
There may be different kinds of payments or negotiated benefits:
- Regular paychecks – your brand ambassadors are working for you. It is only fair that you recognize their efforts and give them a regular pay as agreed. You may incorporate them into your payroll system or issue them with checks at the end of the month.
- Fixed discounts on purchases – you can decide to be giving your brand ambassadors a percentage discount every time they purchase your products. This is a great money saver and will be embraced easily.
- Regular gifts – these will mainly be freebies of some of your products. Depending on your agreement, they may be given on every special day. These include birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Easter etc.
You can also give them priorities in sampling new products before releasing them into the market. This will make them feel special and can also work well for some.
TYPES OF BRAND AMBASSADOR PROGRAMS
There are different types of brand ambassadors. They vary in who they are, their networks and the agreements you have with them. Which one you choose depends on the needs of your company.
You will do well to know which one is the best for the situation your company is in.
Student brand ambassador programs
These programs target the young people and therefore, use students to reach their fellow students. The students may be in college, high school or in any age group. They may even be kids in elementary school.
This obviously is not for every company but for those whose product or service targets this market.
At the same time, your company may have decided to increase its market share. With that goal in mind, you may need to think of the young people as the drivers of that increase. The millennials have been known to be very promising consumers.
Depending on what you offer, the first step will be for you to customize your product for your target market. After that, seek out some popular students who will run the show on the ground. For example, you can approach a school and engage it so as to sponsor the sports team.
You can then provide samples of your products. As people sample them during a sports event, you have a stand where questions are asked and more information is provided. Purchases may be made at discounted prices too. As long as your product is great, you will definitely attract more long-term customers.
The best example of a student brand ambassador program is the one run by Red Bull. Their program called Wings Team operates by employing young people who promote the drink mainly by giving free samples. Whereas those enrolled in the program enjoy every bit of it, the company is also enjoying the increased revenue.
Red Bull gets to be known as the most common energy drink. If it is the most common, doesn’t that mean it’s great? You can be sure that someone looking for an energy drink is very likely to buy Red Bull.
For some inspiration, watch this video to see how it all happens.
Affiliate brand ambassador programs
Affiliate brand ambassadors are people or companies which have their own businesses but endorse you in the course of their operations. It may be just a mention or a passionate advocacy for your products. Whichever way they do it, they are telling their customers or members that they can rely on your products.
It is important to note that these are not the typical affiliate marketers whose primary job is to promote your goods. These are people or companies who have their own businesses which they run. As they run their businesses however, they give you some relevant credit.
For example, if you sell web hosting space, one of your customers who runs an online store may speak well of your services. In so doing, they are simply saying that the reason their online store is always running smoothly is because of your great services. This positive review will make anyone thinking of starting an online store come to you.
Although there are those who do this without much thought of it, you will benefit more if you recognized their efforts. If they are influential enough, you will notice customers telling you that they got to know about you through them. Your social media accounts as well as website may also experience increased activity as a result of the new fans.
Recognizing affiliate brand ambassadors mostly takes the form of giving them a commission on the sales which they bring your way. You can decide that for every customer referred by them, they will get a percentage of the purchase value. This becomes an incentive for them to actively send people to your stores or website.
If you are looking for something different from sales, then you will have to tailor their commission accordingly. For example, if you want registrations for a paid online course, you can offer the course to your affiliate brand ambassadors for free.
Requirement-driven brand ambassador programs
Normally, the people selected for such programs are influential in a certain demographic. Whatever industry they are in, their content engagement rates are high.
Many people interact with the content they create or share.
Therefore, when they share content about your products, you are bound to receive attention.
The brand ambassadors in these programs are given very specific tasks to perform. Those tasks are usually tied to certain timelines.
The agreements entered into with these individuals will have strict KPIs by which to gauge the success of the program. To facilitate smooth operations, your company will supply all the necessary information so as to ensure your products are understood.
Since these are people who have developed themselves for marketing purposes, you will find that they are able to bring in results very quickly. In most cases, they are experienced in building brands and have developed unique ways of achieving their goals.
Of all the different brand ambassador programs, this may be the most expensive to run. This is because the people you are engaging are experts in their own fields with knowledge and experience on how to go about their duties.
Though expensive, this program also offers predictable returns quite quickly. Considering that these individuals have built themselves up, they have cultivated their following.
They are brands in their own right and have worked on themselves to ensure they rank highly in their niche. As a result, the deliverables may come in faster than expected.
Employee brand ambassador programs
Many companies do not think much about their employees when it comes to marketing. They however lose a lot because employees understand the company’s products perfectly. If you are a manufacturer, your employees know exactly what goes into the product.
If you offer a service, they are able to explain the process and even show how your service stands out from the competition.
Although they may not necessarily speak from a customer’s point of view, they are best placed to show the superiority of your product. As such, your employees could be your best brand ambassadors.
These programs are started with full focus on the employees. You should however not force them into it. If there are those interested, they are the ones to work with. They should be driven by passion as much as they stand to gain some other benefits.
You should train your employee brand ambassadors on what exactly to say, do, where to go etc. If you have different target markets to be reached, separate and train them accordingly.
Brand ambassadors market you best when what you sell fits into their normal lifestyles. If your products don’t fit into the lifestyles of your employees but they want to be ambassadors, then train them on the kind of demeanor to exhibit.
This will enable them reach those targeted and bring you success.
Informal brand ambassador programs
You should look at all your customers as brand ambassadors. Since you cannot have formal agreements with all of them, you will put them into this kind of program. These customers are those who casually talk about your products to their friends.
Much of what they say is by word of mouth. Occasionally, they may also share your stories online. Since it is not their normal business, you will have to motivate them to talk some more to their networks.
How do you do this?
By engaging them through your marketing team, mostly via social media.
You will need to consistently provide interesting material for them to interact with. From pictures, infographics to blog content. The important thing here is that the content has to be interesting. It has to be so interesting that they can’t help but just share it out.
When this continues, you will have them hooked and as they enjoy your content, they will invite their friends into it too.
Still on your marketing team, you should have people who are always online to chat with these customers. This is especially important because for your content to be engaging enough, there needs to be interaction with the customers. When someone replies or likes it, your staff should be on hand to follow that with a comment or question.
For a successful informal brand ambassador program, your online marketing team has to be on top of things. They should be able to understand your customers. Where possible, they should know the top customers who share about you and understand their preferences.
The ability to connect with customers on an emotional level is what guarantees their loyalty.
4 REASONS YOUR COMPANY NEEDS A BRAND AMBASSADOR PROGRAM
As much as this is a marketing tool, it is important to ascertain that you actually need it. You most likely have other types of marketing strategies working for you.
So, is it time for your company to add another one?
The below four reasons for having a brand ambassador program will help you answer this question. If any of the situations describes your company, then you should consider having a brand ambassador program.
If two or more of them tell of the situation your company is in, then you definitely need to go for it.
You need to manage your online reputation
Online reputation is valuable for any person as well as company. At the same time, it is highly volatile due to the many comments and discussions which happen on the internet. The worst thing that could happen is for your company to be facing negative reviews without your knowledge.
Watch the below video for more information about negative business reviews and what you can do about them.
There are some tools available to help you monitor your brand’s reputation online. Some are discussed here while others are here. All the same, monitoring alone won’t help much. You need to be able to mitigate negative publicity.
If something really bad is said about your brand, then your PR team may not be in a position to sort it out. And this is where your brand ambassador comes in.
Since they are well known and highly respected, all you may need is a few positive comments to negate the bad report. Someone with a high authority can easily overturn the negative comments on a forum or blog and make it seem that you were unfairly targeted.
It gets better if this person has already influenced some of his friends and they have had a good experience with your brand. If this is on social media and your brand ambassador shares it, his friends will quickly pick on it.
In no time, your critics will either be silenced or they will have to tone down the attack because they most likely don’t have the kind of authority your brand ambassador has.
Such situations are common in industries where the competition is so stiff that underhand tactics are used to gain an upper hand.
It may also happen in cases where a genuine mistake was done in your company and now it is being talked about online.
You need cost-effective marketing with high returns
Brand ambassadors are very efficient marketing and sales people. When you get one—a good one—you are guaranteed to have many new customers. The responsibility on your side now becomes to ensure that those new customers experience what was promised.
That, plus the constant marketing voice of your brand ambassador, will result in loyalty.
By their very nature, brand ambassadors don’t come cheap. Especially those in the requirement-driven programs. If this is the case, then how is it cost-effective?
The below three ways make this cheaper than other options.
1. It is easier to manage one person
Your brand ambassador works as per the agreement with you. This agreement details everything he needs to do and what he gets from you in return.
This is way easier compared to when you have to deal with different agreements for sales people, merchandisers, extra PR staff etc.
2. He does the jobs of several people
This is where most efficiency comes in. Your brand ambassador is an authority and so whatever he says, is accepted. If there is a negative review on a website, he deals with it.
At that point, he has done the job of your PR staff. Mind you his comments as an outsider and influencer are stronger than those of your staff.
When he speaks to his network and advocates for your products, he works as a sales person. Note that his sales pitch is not a mere broadcast which is more of a hit or miss mission. Being an influencer guarantees results.
When you tell him about your promotional event, he just needs to mention it and there will be people coming. If he attends the event himself, then your advertising costs are further reduced.
3. Increased revenues are guaranteed
Any good brand ambassador will guarantee increased sales. Just their word of mouth is enough to do it. When they speak about your brand severally, then the stream of customers can only grow longer.
This is due to the amount of influence they have over their networks. To a good extent, it also depends on your agreement with them and how much you make them like your company. This is in spite of the benefits they get from you.
If you manage to make them love your brand, then they will put in some natural passion into advocating for it. They will gladly wear shirts branded with your company name, show up at your events without notice and go out of their way to do more.
Something like attending your events unannounced makes a big statement when they post a picture of it online. The people following them will understand that to mean that they can meet your brand ambassador at your events.
This makes them want to stay tuned to news about your events so they can attend.
If you are thinking of the Return on Investment, then brand ambassadors cannot disappoint. What you just need to do is get two things right: your target market and your brand ambassador.
You need to build trust for your brand
Building trust is never an easy thing. And if your company is relatively small in comparison to the competition, it may be more difficult. Fortunately, although there are things you can do, brand ambassadors can make it easier for you. It all comes down to who says what about your brand.
Watch the below video to understand how trust is important and why customers prefer brands they trust.
Your company may be a startup or one established but not growing. And if you are overshadowed by the competition, doing business becomes a real struggle. Your brand ambassador therefore comes in to help you level the field a little bit.
With their influence, a positive mention will go a long way in building your brand’s trust. Soon enough, you may have a strong brand with your products attracting more customers.
After analyzing the market and discussing some strategies, he will embark on the journey of building trust for your brand. When your brand is trusted, it becomes easier to grow. Other marketing strategies also start paying off because trust is the foundation of everything.
One way of going about it is by giving him samples of your product so he experiences them. You probably will have to give him many samples for him to share with friends. By the time he is talking about your brand and his friends attest to what he says, you will notice the difference.
How do you know if your brand is gaining trust? You can use any of the following simple ways:
Monitor your sales
Increased sales are one of the surest ways to know something good is happening. When there is consistency in purchasing your products, you know that customers trust your brand to deliver what it says it will.
If your company has a loyalty program, you can analyze the details of the purchases being made. You will notice more quantities being bought by the same customers while new customers are buying too.
Check the conversations about your brand
Social media will be the best place for this. Instead of customers just “liking” and “sharing” your posts, they will start commenting about them. This will generate conversations which express loyalty. This creates an opportunity to offer customer service on social media.
If you use tools which help you monitor where and how your brand is mentioned, you will see that these customers are taking the conversations to other platforms too.
In due time, these customers will become part of your informal brand ambassador program.
Check your customer feedback
Your customer care staff should also be able to notice a difference in the feedback they receive. When customers trust your brand, their language changes. Even if they are reporting a complaint, they will still be gentle about it.
This is because they have developed a love for your brand. It is similar to what happens when you correct a friend you love. You want to help him become better while being careful not to hurt his feelings.
You need direct feedback from your customers
When it comes to getting feedback about your brand, your own social accounts and website won’t do it all. You need to engage other parties too, like a brand ambassador.
This is because there are many customers who do not visit your website, neither have they liked your Facebook page. In short, they don’t directly interact with you.
These customers however, talk about the parts of their lives which touch on your product in other social settings. It may be on a Facebook page for people with similar interests. It may be on their personal social accounts or at a social event. You may not know it, but your customers are talking about you.
When you however work with a brand ambassador, you start cutting down on the amount of “unknown aspects” affecting your brand. Being someone with a huge following, your brand ambassador can get this important feedback by just asking a simple indirect question.
For example, on his social account, he may ask what people think about the industry you are in. He doesn’t even need to mention your company. But from the feedback he receives, he will know where your company stands as far as the public opinion is concerned.
When you have this information, you can then be better prepared to handle any situation.
With the knowledge of situations which need a brand ambassador’s input, you can easily make the decision as to whether you currently need one. Upon deciding that your company should run a brand ambassador program, then the next thing would be to figure out which type is best for your situation.
As long as you make the right choices, you can be sure that brand ambassador programs will not disappoint.
You probably have at least one memory of a time when you felt a special connection with a brand or …