Getting brand ambassadors is easier, cheaper, and more effective than collaborating with influencers when it comes to customer satisfaction and the number of sales over a longer period of time. Not only are they easier to recruit, they are also trusted more than traditional influencers. Brand ambassadors are usually regular customers, but can also be respected members of their communities, such as pro athletes and teams, amateur athletes, smaller artists, even personal trainers from the local gym.
Unlike influencers, they have no incentive to give a positive review to a brand, because they are already fans of the brand they are promoting. They may not have as large of a reach as mega influencers, but their strength is in numbers – the more the merrier! Brands who decide to run a brand ambassador programs should aim for a large number of ambassadors, so they can utilize the full potential they can provide. So, let’s find out how to get brand ambassadors!
Word of Mouth Marketing
Word of mouth marketing is slowly but surely taking over, which allows smaller brands to advertise without a big budget. Research shows that consumers are 71% more inclined to purchase a product or service based on referrals they see on social media. Organic reach has never been more relevant, and as a brand, you can tap into the higher engagement rates that brand ambassadors have, versus those of the influencers.
In the age of social media, presence is key. Reviews are crucial. Real experiences trump forced marketing campaigns on any day of the week. According to the American Marketing Association, word of mouth marketing is 2.5 times more effective than the traditional forms of advertisement. This is great news for brands that rely on word of mouth when it comes to promotion, as they can recruit brand ambassadors who are perfect vessels for promotion in an organic, unforced, and unpolished manner.
What is a Brand Ambassador?
In simple terms, brand ambassadors are most often normal, everyday customers. However, they can also be pro athletes or sports teams sponsored by a brand to represent them. They have four crucial roles in a brand’s marketing strategy. They:
- Promote the product
- Represent the brand
- Advocate for the brand
- Interact with their audience
A brand ambassador is usually an existing customer, satisfied with the product or the service that the brand offers. They have a transparent working relationship with the brand, and they represent the message the brand wants to put out into the world. They interact with their audience and bring the brand closer to the “regular” person who values their opinion because they probably follow them closely, or have a personal relationship with them. If they are more well-known, such as athletes and artists, they are usually connected to the brand already and use their products regularly.
But what makes a brand ambassador perfect for you? First of all, a good brand ambassador is relevant to your specific brand. You will gain nothing from the biggest influencer in the world if their message has nothing to do with the message you are trying to get across. But a nano influencer or even a regular Joe will have a greater impact if they are truly passionate about your brand and core message.
Next, a good brand ambassador is a credible person, one that has influence within their circle, but not because of money or power, but because of their honesty and a true passion for what they do. If you run a fitness brand, connecting with local personal trainers who have loyal clients who value their opinion will speak volumes, especially when you take into account that people trust them with their bodies, in their most vulnerable state – while they struggle in the gym and work on getting rid of their insecurities.
How to Get Brand Ambassadors?
Getting brand ambassadors should be much simpler than establishing a lucrative relationship with a big influencer and cost way less! There are a few things a brand must do in order to get truly valuable brand ambassadors to promote them on social media and in their circle of friends:
- Figure out your brand ambassador program
- Do the research
- How will you reward your ambassadors?
- Spread the word
- Connect with potential ambassadors
- Ask for help
- Build a community
- Scaling the program
Building Brand Ambassador Programs
The next big thing you need to figure out is your actual brand ambassador program. Do you want to focus on the local community, go international, encourage your ambassadors to host events, share content on social media, or set up physical events and competitions?
An important step you need to take is figuring out how to build a strong community, how your potential brand ambassadors match your program, and how they will promote your product. Following best practices of brands such as Kaged Muscle and Skirt Sports, you can create a brand ambassador guide. In this guide, you can list tips and tricks on taking a perfect photo, if you are focusing on social media platforms such as Instagram, instructions on constructing a great video, if you choose to focus on YouTube, and a guide on creating a captivating blog post or any piece of content in general. Shy individuals who are not confident enough yet to reach out and join a brand ambassador program can benefit from this type of content. When they learn how to better their content, they will feel more empowered to join a program that can benefit them and the brand they love.
Don’t shy away from promoting your brand ambassadors who do a great job with their content. Shout them out on Instagram, put them in a newsletter, and show your audience how well they are doing, how creative they are, and how well thought out their content is. Your existing brand ambassadors will feel recognized, and people who may have missed your brand ambassador program announcement can get encouraged to participate.
Doing the Research
As a brand, you know who your buyer persona is, who your customers are, and what your target audience is. The initial research is, however, not enough when you are trying to get brand ambassadors. Ideally, you will invest time in discovering:
- Who has a good relationship with their audience?
- Who is a loyal customer who genuinely loves your product?
Look at your communication with your customers.
- Who seems satisfied?
- Who is raving about your product?
- Who went the extra mile to connect with you?
- Who took the time to take photos of your product?
- Who shared their experience on social media?
Loyal customers who can make great brand ambassadors will often reach out on their own, whether on social media or through the support channels. They will provide valuable feedback and offer their honest opinions to their audience.
How will you reward your ambassadors?
An integral part of any successful brand ambassador campaign is the payment that brand ambassadors will receive for their hard work. However, even though you can opt for monetary remuneration, unlike with influencer campaigns, you have more options. Brand ambassadors, being regular people who are motivated by their actual community and not cash, do not necessarily look for partnership opportunities that will result in monetary gain. However, the better the rewards, the more ambassadors you can recruit to your program. Therefore, you can offer branded merchandise, free products, discounts, and special discount codes for their audience. Brands such as Lululemon invite their top brand ambassadors to yearly summits to show their appreciation, where they treat them to a nice getaway and give them an opportunity to network with other ambassadors. Most customers that decide to join a brand ambassador program will appreciate free product, especially if they dabble in the beauty world. Sending them product allows them to do more reviews and have a continuous stream of content they can offer to their followers, even if they are not influencers in the classical sense.
Spread the Word
Announcing your brand ambassador program is the key step in getting perfect advocates for your product. Before chiming the bells to the entire world, look inwards, into your community. Friends, family, Facebook and Instagram followers, as well as customers are all potential brand ambassadors! Once you have the initial pool covered, you can move on to nano and micro influencers who use and love your product and post Facebook and Instagram ads to target existing and potential customers who can represent your brand. Reach out to other websites, post in groups, and do a guest post to spread the word. Hunt for an individual, not the ideal influencer.
Connect with the Ambassadors
A common mistake most brands make is the fact that they leave communication with potential and existing brand ambassadors in the social media sphere. The ambassadors and ones who strive to become one receive regularly scheduled automated emails that achieve nothing but show them that the brand does not really care about them. They do not feel special, and surely do not feel like someone who can make a difference.
Communicate with Ambassador?
Be consistent in your communication with ambassadors and potential ambassadors. Send out newsletters regularly, drop them a line via social media, announce the beginning of the program on social media, and post a blurb about becoming a brand ambassador on a thank you page after a customer purchases your product. Utilize the power of Instagram story ads and target the demographic you need.
Ask for Help
People naturally love to help others, especially if it makes them feel like they are making a difference. Ask your ambassadors to reach out to their communities and join your program. Most of them will be happy do spread the word and help grow the brand they love. Since ambassadors work for perks mostly, it is likely that the friends and families of your existing rockstars will want to participate as well.
Build a Community
Now, more than ever, authenticity matters. Consumers are fed up with polished influencers and brands focusing only on big numbers. Therefore, work towards building a strong community. People who genuinely love your brand and enjoy your products will be the best ambassadors, even though they do not have millions of followers. Their friends, family members, and coworkers value their opinions. Humans are naturally drawn to communities of like-minded individuals, so use that fact to build a solid brand with a loyal base of followers who will genuinely enjoy sharing their thoughts and experiences with their own audiences. Building a successful program takes time, but in the end, it is worth it if it means that you will retain your authenticity and advocate for what your brand truly stands for. And it goes both ways – brand ambassadors will be happy to represent a positive community and advocate for a brand whose message they believe in.
Scaling your Ambassador Program
A crucial fact that you need to be aware of is that a single brand ambassador cannot generate millions of sales each year. Since they are mostly regular people with true influence in their small communities, it is unreasonable to expect them to drive a huge number of people to spend their hard-earned cash on a product that someone they do not know is promoting. Therefore, if any brand ambassador program is to be successful, it needs to happen on a larger scale. Keeping the number of ambassadors small may work in the beginning, but as you grow, you need to recruit more of them for the program to actually work. Be aware of the engagement of your ambassadors. The average campaign will see 10% monthly engagement, which means that if you keep the numbers small, the impact of the campaign will be small as well.
Brand ambassadors are a powerful marketing force that brands should tap into if they are looking to expand on a more organic approach to marketing. Their strength is in numbers, and they can help even the smallest of brands get off the ground and into the realm of higher sales. Getting brand ambassadors requires a structured brand ambassador program, good announcement channels such as newsletters and social media, as well as showing them that real humans stand behind the brand. Word of mouth marketing is definitely one of the most popular tactics nowadays, so utilizing all of its power is not only smart, but essential in the Internet era we live in.