In the world of word-of-mouth marketing, there are a ton of terms that all sort of mean the same thing. But what do you think of when you hear the term brand ambassador? How is a brand ambassador different?
Ambassadors are very helpful in spreading the word about your business, and encouraging people to buy from you, through word of mouth marketing. But what makes ambassadors different from other advocates? They are experts in your brand, who represent you regularly and discuss your brand with the public.
What is a brand ambassador? The details
Brand ambassadors are real people who love your brand, who want to see your brand succeed, and who genuinely and actively use your products.
After identifying people who are already enthusiastic about your brand and its products, your brand will officially recruit these people as ambassadors.
Ambassadors promote your brand continually, via word-of-mouth. So, your brand ambassadors must be pros at talking about your brand online and offline: on their own social media accounts, at trade shows, at community events, and via networking.
They are real-life humans who use your product and believe in what your brand is doing. This could mean an ambassador is an employee, partner or even a customer. They may be experts in your brand’s niche or field, but they don’t have to be, as long as they’re authorities in your brand.
Their loyalty is also key—brand ambassadors agree to maintain an ongoing relationship with you. These people work to help spread your message via social media, trade shows, events, and networking. Why? Because they love you. They’re just like you, and they want to see the business do well. Talk about top-notch cheerleaders!
Think of a brand ambassador as an informal spokesperson, or someone who was hired to actively promote the brand, without being too stuffy. Rather than having a formal press release or speaking based on a script (though there may be a few guidelines to follow), these people like to get right in the action and talk to people one on one.
Ambassadors never explicitly tell people to try this, buy this, use this. They aren’t trying to push anything on the people they talk to – they are rather expressing their fondness while being informative about the product or brand. Since they use the product themselves and think it will benefit others, they want to share why they use it. They are the people who put a face to the product.
(Source: Tap Influence)
Why your company needs these types of ambassadors
Move over, traditional ads. Step aside, posts on branded social media accounts. If you’re aiming at acquiring and retaining new customers, the most effective form of marketing is word-of-mouth.
Recommendations from people who use your products in real life resonate with audiences far better than messages directly from your brand. So, finding people who love your brand, and are willing to keep spreading the word about your brand to their friends consistently, is key.
Brand ambassadors fit all of these requirements—and they’re ready to commit to you for the long haul.
But what unique benefits do they provide that make them worth using? What sets them apart from traditional advertising?
Brand ambassadors’ longevity, authenticity, and expertise make them powerful brand voices that your potential customers trust.
Because of the viral nature of the web and word of mouth, brand ambassadors can easily become your online and in-person brand representation (can you say ‘cost-effective’?). They give new customers a reason to trust you. Not only do they send new customers your way, but they usually end up as a lifelong customer. It should be noted that brand ambassadors can earn incentives. Often times this is the reason why they are motivated in the first place. This is not necessarily required, though (but, who doesn’t love company swag?).
A brand ambassador program is a cost-effective way to widen your marketing, without having to put much money or effort into it. This is because brand ambassadors can hit different demographics in a variety of regions you may not be able to market to. You provide the product, and your brand ambassadors take care of the rest.
(Source: Business 2 Community)
If a brand ambassador program isn’t quite what you’re looking for, you may want to consider using an alternative (yet, similar) type of marketing.
Brand ambassadors create reliable, long-term advocacy
One of the best benefits of recruiting brand ambassadors is their continued commitment to your brand.
- Ambassadors agree to work with your brand because of its existing positive relationship with your brand. They’ve likely promoted your brand regularly already, without any prompting. So, you’ve built rapport with each other long before they officially signed on to promote you.
- Ambassadors will usually create digital content for your brand regularly. Unlike influencers, who agree to post about your brand only once or twice, ambassadors will share about your brand often on their social media accounts or blogs.
- And you can reliably call on ambassadors to keep sharing their positive experiences offline as well, in multiple different scenarios. As Entrepreneur puts it, “an endorser will say nice things in a [single] survey. A brand ambassador will say nice things for a year straight.”
- Brand ambassadors are great people to test new products out on because they’ll provide valuable feedback on these products before any formal launch.
- They’re also awesome sources of other feedback, like advice on how to better reach certain audiences, because they’re passionate about helping you build your brand.
Here’s another powerful reason why you should recruit ambassadors: Brand ambassadors give new customers a reason to trust you. If the majority of messages about your brand come directly from your brand, you’re going to struggle to get your message across. People are exposed to so much media every day that they’ve learned to cut through the saturation and ignore what they deem irrelevant—including your ads.
- According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers from various markets are more inclined to believe people who are in their circles than direct messaging from a brand.
- Only a third of consumers say they trust traditional ads.
- Also, almost 75% of consumers decide what to buy based on social media posts, but 96% of the people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles. So, consumers don’t have as much trust for social media that comes directly from brands—instead, they’re turning to posts and reviews from individuals.
But your potential customers listen to brand ambassadors. People trust the opinions and recommendations from others who have used the product in real life, far more than they trust ads.
In fact, personal experience is the source of information consumers trust most. Brand ambassadors use your products regularly, speak from their own perspective, and recommend your products based on authentic experience, without being too “salesy.” Plus, they’re largely speaking to people who already follow them! So, it’s easy for them to connect with their audiences genuinely and with true enthusiasm.
Ambassadors provide powerful testimonies about your brand that lead to conversions! Potential customers rely on these genuine experiences with products, and this makes them more likely to purchase. Thus, brand ambassadors are extremely important for driving brand awareness and increasing sales.
Brand ambassadors aren’t just regular users of your products—they’re also authorities in your brand (and possibly experts within a niche). And it’s natural for customers to trust experts.
According to a B2B Buyer’s Survey report, industry experts and peers are the top 2 resources for buyers to get advice. From their followers’ points of view, ambassadors often serve as both “experts” and “peers!”
- It’s wise to recruit authorities in your field to serve as brand ambassadors; for example, an outdoor adventurer is a great ambassador for a hiking gear brand, and a dermatologist is a reliable ambassador for a sunscreen manufacturer!
- Whether or not you recruit industry experts, equip ambassadors with plenty of insider info about your brand, so they’re best able to serve as brand authorities, and so they can answer any questions people may have about your products.
A great brand ambassador can really make their word stick through their strong credibility. Take a dentist, for example, who recommends a specific brand of toothpaste to her patients. She most likely will pitch only the brands she trusts and uses herself. Therefore, she will provide you with a persuasive advertisement that is powerful and believable.
One of the best parts about hiring brand ambassadors is that they’re far more cost-effective than traditional ads. After all, rather than being driven by external rewards, ambassadors are primarily motivated intrinsically.
- Although your brand may compensate them with cash, free products, or gift cards, ambassadors’ biggest motivations are seeing you succeed and helping your brand grow (while gaining experience in the process).
- So, many brand ambassadors will agree to help you for free—and if incentives are part of the deal, they are never the most important part.
Managing ambassadors efficiently (with software) isn’t free, but it’s still very cost-effective.
- Compared to paid ads, you won’t need to shell out nearly as much for ambassador management software. (This software lets you track the success of ambassadors’ online campaigns, and manage the rewards they earn if you choose to reward them.)
- As Business.com reports, management software costs even less than ads when you consider the higher ROI of ambassadors’ posts, because of the greater trust ambassadors earn from consumers.
How can an ambassador program help grow your business?
There are a variety of reasons a brand ambassador is important. They can help you accomplish quite a bit, in the realm of getting your brand and product out there. Plus, they happen to love your product just as much as you do, so their sharing is typically done out of love and is easily received by future customers.
1. Content creation
Ambassadors are awesome, authentic content creators. Watch the content keep rolling in, and with each ambassador comes a new twist to promote you. It’s like having an army of marketers shine a spotlight on your best angle. All this content is great for bringing in more traffic and helping you mark your spot in the market.
One of the best parts about having a brand ambassador program is that brand ambassadors will create content for you. If you are on a social platform, you have probably seen content created by an ambassador. It’s typical for a brand ambassador to rave about a product online, and even include an image of the product in their post. Best of all, this content is free and made purely because the customer loves what you do. Most of these posts are unsponsored and unpaid, unlike endorsed influencer created content. But, what’s magical is that you’ll get a ton of spot-on content created for you, at the fraction of the time it would take your team to do it.
2. Advertising your business
Look it’s hard to get yourself out there, and it’s even more difficult to be everywhere. That’s where ambassadors come in. What do ambassadors do with their created content? They share it. Meaning you now have free advertisements for your business swept all over the place. It’s like having an army of super fans helping you to get your brand message across. Most of the time they share via social media, but they can share everywhere.
- review sites
- social media
- in stores
- trade shows
You get the point. Most brand ambassadors are willing to commit a little time to support your brand.
3. Resonate with an audience better than you can
Get this, your ambassadors have an easier time connecting with your audience than you do. This is because they are typically experts in the field. Oh, and not to mention they are speaking directly to their friends, family, and those who already follow them. Plus, their enthusiasm for the product comes off as genuine, and that is the real reason they have an easier time resonating with potential customers.
4. Your product will get better
Your product will evolve as your brand grows. By working closely with your brand ambassadors, you will learn what changes can be made and what you need to do to get a leg up. Ambassadors are important for growth because they help you see your product from outside the box. While you’re hard at work, creating and pushing forward, your ambassadors are seeing things that you might be missing.
You’ll want to hear feedback from them, so make sure you leave the door open for their comments. You might not always think their ideas are gold, but their feedback and ideas are what will help you create a better product in the long run. Plus, they make great testers, thus helping you smooth out kinks before launching or releasing a product to the public.
How to find ambassadors for your brand
Now that you know the advantages of recruiting an ambassador, and have decided to recruit at least one, you’ll need to figure out what methods you’ll use to find and contact them. Here are a few reliable choices.
Your customers – direct outreach
Reaching out directly to thank your known best customers, and to invite them to join your brand ambassador program, is a great way to make them feel appreciated! Customers like these are often glad to keep sharing recommendations.
Have you already found people who posted about how much they love your brand on social media? Have you saved their info or reposted their sentiments on your own social accounts? Consider contacting these people and asking if they’d like to be your ambassadors.
You could also search for people who have used your hashtags, or check out posts that your brand is tagged in. But these manual searches can be very time-consuming and frustrating. And searching for people who have mentioned your brand (without tags or hashtags) is even more difficult.
Using ambassador search software to comb social media is a much easier option. Software lets you search for people who have shared and engaged with your brand or products, and see who is talking about you online.
Once you’ve found people who seem like great potential ambassadors, ambassador software will also help you reach out to them.
Software tools like SocialToaster, Brand24, and others are extremely cost-effective, After all, they save you time, and they help you track and manage ambassadors in addition to contacting them. And once you consider the sales ambassadors generate through recommendations (and the lower customer acquisition costs), ambassador software is an even smarter choice!
Consider opening up a brand ambassador application form on your website, and letting potential ambassadors come right to you. This works well for programs like Pura Vida’s ambassador program.
(Source: Pura Vida website)
You can also make a list of possible ambassadors using another method, and then narrow down your contact pool even further by asking each person to complete an application form.
- In the form, explicitly ask if they would be willing to share your products with their network—more than once—and weed out any “nos.”
- It’s also beneficial to ask why they chose your product, and why they love your brand. After all, you want ambassadors who have a true passion for your brand, not ones who will take the opportunity for personal gain alone.
Your own company (recruit your employees)
Don’t forget to consider recruiting your own employees as ambassadors! After all, they’re already experts in your brand and your audience, and they’ve already committed to your values. Plus, your employees’ social media followers are their friends, family, and peers—and people trust recommendations from friends more than any other form of advertising.
But keep these caveats in mind as well. There’s the concern that your employees’ advocacy may come off as too “salesy” and not seem authentic enough. Plus, employees’ values can change, especially as their reputation as an ambassador increases.
Understanding the basic elements of a brand ambassador program is huge when you are trying to get outsiders to relate to you.
Promoting your business online and in person can be a big challenge. This is why amping up your sources and channels for word of mouth to occur is crucial. If you’re searching for a way to amp up the volume, a brand ambassador program may be exactly what you need.
Starting a brand ambassador program can definitely help you promote your business by using word of mouth tactics.