Invest in the people who are already invested in you.
It’s a no-brainer. Yet brands work tirelessly to produce endless creative marketing campaigns with the sole purpose of capturing a slew of new customers.
Now, don’t get me wrong, constantly building up your customer base is important (it’s arguably the most important aspect of business!), but with all the commotion, it can be easy to lose sight of the committed customers who have been with you the entire time.
Working with the people who are passionate about your brand has many perks and should never be overlooked. Not only are you able to build strong relationships with the people that support you the most, but you’re able to appeal to your desired target market in ways you never would have been able to on your own.
So set those huge marketing campaigns to the side for just a minute and focus on the value a brand ambassador program can provide for your company! The outcome might surprise you...
The importance of a brand ambassador program
If executed correctly, brand ambassadors provide your company with an ‘in’ to your target market through the most authentic and genuine way possible: peer to peer marketing. By spreading your brand’s message to your target market through the opinions of like-minded people, your target market will be more inclined to be curious of your offerings and hopefully, try it out for themselves if they see their friends and people just like them already like it.
What is a brand ambassador?
A brand ambassador’s main duty is to represent and promote your brand to his or her network, usually on social media or through word of mouth in ways that feel most natural. Ambassadors can be small or large-scaled, meaning you can recruit ‘regular’ customers who also happen to be die-hard fans or social media influencers who match the aesthetic of your brand.
It's a widely known fact that consumers are more likely to trust content shared by their peers rather than content shared by brands, which means recruiting ambassadors that fit within the persona of your target market is the key to a successful program.
You can also have a mix of both types, but if you choose to hire influencers, it’s crucial that you choose the ones that already have a liking for your brand or the types of products you sell. By doing it this way, the partnership will make complete sense to the influencer's followers, which will make their followers more trusting and likely to accept the message your ambassador is sharing.
TIP: Not quite ready for a brand ambassador? Start off your campaign with a few testimonials that you can grab right from your G2 profile.
How to start a brand ambassador program from scratch
If you’ve made it this far and you think you want to start a brand ambassador program of your own, then it’s time to ask yourself the following questions to gauge if your brand is ready for it.
Brand ambassador programs are not right for every brand, so these questions will help you get a greater sense of whether it’s right for yours.
Do you have an engaged community of customers on your social media accounts?
Are your customers sharing and tagging your brand on social media?
Does your brand (or products) fit easily into a specific lifestyle niche?
Are your customers going out of their way to leave raving reviews about your products or your brand?
If you answered ‘yes’ to a majority of the questions then you can feel confident continuing on to the next step. An ambassador program is the right fit for your brand! It’s time for the fun part: the program build out.
The elements for a successful brand ambassador program
It’s important to remember that every program on the market is a little different depending on individual company needs. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can be sure that you have all of the key elements covered which you can continue to build off of as your program grows.
1. Conduct in-depth research
The first step to any huge undertaking is always research. You can’t begin without it and you certainly can’t be successful without it. Knowing exactly who your perfect ambassadors are might be more difficult than you first thought because they aren’t always your customer profile. Your ambassadors need to fit within a profile that your target market looks up to, seeks advice from, or is easily influenced by.
It’s also worth taking note of the people who are already advocating for your brand on social. Those people, if they have a large enough network, are fantastic options for your ambassador program. Their network will likely match the exact profile you are looking for, so tapping into it can make your efforts a lot easier as well.
TIP: Learn how to conduct market research for your brand ambassador program.
2. Establish main goals and your overarching purpose
A brand ambassador program is difficult to measure, especially in the beginning when your main goal is something intangible like brand awareness. This is why it’s incredibly important to establish your goals and what your key metrics are in the beginning, as well as once it’s successfully up and running for not only the organizational structure of your program but for your company's record. If you can’t show results and ways the program is working, your company’s execs will pull the program fast.
3. Spread the word to discover ideal candidates
Get loud on social, your company’s website, email newsletter, and everywhere else in between. You’ll want to make sure the word is out and everyone who would make a perfect candidate is aware of your program. If you’re looking to target a specific niche of people, consider reaching out to the big players in your industry. For example, if you are an athletic apparel brand, reaching out to big name gyms and workout class franchises is an excellent way to start.
4. Make your program exclusive
Yes, you should share your program information with anyone and everyone. No, you should not let just anyone become an ambassador. The looser your qualifications are, the less important the job becomes which means you will have a ton of uncommitted and careless ambassadors who are most likely participating for the wrong reasons.
5. Provide an open channel for dialogue and feedback
Listen to what your ambassadors have to say because they are essentially your ‘front line’ to everything important to your brand. Not only are they your actual customers, but they also receive first-hand opinions from your target market which you typically wouldn’t be privy to otherwise.
Allow your ambassadors to provide you with honest advice and constructive feedback. This will ensure you are getting the most out of your program because you will be able to improve your brand in ways your target market wants it most. Remember, communication is not one-sided and in this case, it should never be all about your needs. Think about your ambassadors too. Opening up a dialogue with them and making them feel comfortable sharing anything they feel is necessary is a great way to ensure your ambassadors are fulfilled and happy with the work they are doing for you.
6. Ensure your program is valuable
Value is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to brand ambassador programs. Whether the value is defined by monetary compensation, free products, gained business skills, networking, the ability to be creative, or something else! You can’t please everyone, but you can work to have many of the elements mentioned. If you don't provide enough value, you can guarantee they will move on, leaving you with a revolving door of ambassadors which is not good for your brand image.
7. Set them up for success
If you want your program to be successful you have to provide your ambassadors with the right tools. This means easy access to the key players in your company, a manager to direct all questions and concerns to, a supply of products on hand, the list goes on. Provide them with whatever will make their job as seamless as possible. Make them feel like a partner of your brand that has a say regarding the program’s structure.
Related: Has brand marketing piqued your interest? Learn what it takes to become a brand manager.
8. Build a strong community
Make your ambassador program a tight-knit community of people who support and encourage each other’s goals. If done correctly, you will foster a place where your ambassadors will turn to when they are looking for new sales techniques, content ideas, inspiration, and more It’s a great way for them to feel like they are a part of something important while working towards a mission that means something to them.
Once the community is established, you can use it as your main way to source and hire new ambassadors. Who knows your ideal candidate better than your current ambassadors? Leverage their networks!
9. Don't stop searching
With that being said, you'll still want to keep an eye on your social media accounts for additional candidates. Your creative ambassadors are sure to inspire and influence current customers who are eventually going to want in on the fun.
As the content you notice through your brand tags and hashtags get better and better, you'll want to take note of those who are engaged with your brand and looking to get noticed. This means that the exclusivity of your program has done its job. People want to be a part of your program as a result!
Make sure your ambassadors feel acknowledged and appreciated by your brand. Remember, they are your partners in this, so their success is your success, and vice versa. Recognition can be for anything noteworthy that has happened to them, whether that be hitting a follow milestone or that they completely blew away the sales goal that was set. Personal or work related it doesn’t matter. You are reinforcing your commitment and care towards your brand ambassador community.
11. Let go of the reins
This is where the community you’ve built becomes even more important. Eventually, the community will be strong enough to stand on its own, which is exactly what you want to happen. Your brand ambassadors know your target audience better than anyone (because they are them), so sit back and allow them to do their thing. You should feel confident that you've chosen people who will passionately advocate for your brand and uphold your vision. Let them evolve your program into something greater than what you could have ever imagined!
Find your fans
If a brand ambassador program is the right fit for your company, then what are you waiting for? The benefits of implementing one can be tremendous, but make sure you follow each tip to ensure you’re building a well-rounded program that attracts the very best people to support your brand.
Are you ready for your next challenge? Learn how a program for employee brand ambassadors works and why you should implement one for your business!
Hannah is a former Content Marketing Associate at G2. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Journalism. In her free time, Hannah enjoys running with her dog, Teddy, traveling to new and exciting places, and capturing the beautiful places she travels to with her DSLR camera. (she/her/hers)