What’s the key to marketing in the 21st century? People, not ads. Here’s why. As a company or business owner, if you are still stuck with the traditional method of advertising, then, you are probably missing out on tons of benefits that come with the new rave. That’s right! There’s a new rave and companies are keying into it at the speed of light. So, what’s the new rave? Brand ambassadors!
It’s totally normal if at this point you are probably picturing Selena Gomez or David Beckham marketing your company’s product or service. That’s not exactly far off from the idea but let’s get you started on what a being brand ambassador really means. 3, 2, 1 and here we go!
Who is a Brand Ambassador?
A brand ambassador is someone who represents your brand, product, event or service. Simply put, a brand ambassador is a creative way of referring to someone who markets a brand, product or service through grassroots, face-to-face or “word of mouth” marketing strategy.
These are people that are essentially doing the marketing for a brand.
The term refers to a person who is hired by an organization or company to positively present and represent a brand in order to strengthen the customer-product-service chain and increase awareness and sales. A brand ambassador lives, eats and breathes the brand he or she represents. (Just kidding, that’s a hyperbole!) If you are also thinking of trade show hosts, in-store promotional members, and street teams, you are right! These are brand ambassadors!
They employ both online and offline techniques to ensure that a brand, service or product is effectively marketed such that, people are influenced to patronize that brand, service or product. Voila! It’s that simple.
Recent surveys indicate that a substantial number of purchases are as a result of “word-of-mouth” referral. So, it’s not the fancy ad that got the pounds trickling in but someone somewhere who told someone else somewhere else “Hey! You should totally check this out, it’s good stuff! “(Okay, this is getting too irrelevant. Let’s get back to why we are here.)
So, word-of-mouth is one of the best strategies for any brand to thrive. People will most likely patronize a brand if the referral is coming from someone they trust. This is why more and more companies are creating ambassador programs, one-to-one customer engagement, and ambassador platforms.
So what do smart brands do? They incorporate ambassador marketing into their marketing budget. It’s a win-win, they simply connect with people who support their brand, build strong relationships and create an ambassador community that will help them spread the word in a more efficient way that any advertising campaign can do.
A brand ambassador produces results through communication tools either publicly, such as social media, or privately including emails, messaging and one-to-one marketing strategies.
Types of Brand Ambassadors
There are basically two broad types of brand ambassadors: paid and unpaid brand ambassadors.
“Wait, did you just say unpaid? Like no salary?”
Shush! Let’s tell you about them.
When you think of brand ambassadors, you are most likely thinking of the paid ambassador. (Well, it’s the most common ambassador type and we all know why). A paid brand ambassador is paid by a brand, either through money or free products and services (The Good Life). Paid brand ambassadors include your favorite celebrities and social media influencers a.k.a. macro influencers (which kind of makes sense now, when you think of all the review videos you see on YouTube or Instagram).
Paid brand ambassadors are one of the best options for brands due to their strong media presence and a large number of followers. This gives brands the opportunity to connect to a larger audience.
The unpaid ambassadors are equally as important, although, they may not guarantee a large audience like the paid ambassadors. They are the micro influencers. The unpaid ambassadors consist of loyal customers or enthusiasts who refer a brand to friends, families or colleagues through word-of-mouth. Unpaid ambassadors are a more authentic and trustworthy avenue to market a brand, due to their proximity to their audience. Unpaid ambassadors could also include online reviewers who write positive reviews advocating a brand and encouraging others to patronize it.
So, no salary?
Yes, no salary.
What is Ambassador Marketing?
Nowadays, programmatic advertising, Facebook and Google search ads alone won’t do the magic. This does not mean that those are not effective methods of creating awareness and increasing sales but the world is rapidly evolving and so are the trends.
More and more companies are adopting ambassador marketing as a marketing strategy.
Why Ambassador Marketing?
There are a couple of reasons why ambassador marketing strategies have usurped traditional marketing strategies. Here’s some:
Putting up ads on TV or emails is great but people are sick of getting spam every time. And how many people watch TV these days? Social Media is the in thing.
A-ha! Social Media it is then! So, you decide to put up ads on Social Media too right? But here’s the thing too, people are sick of ads popping up in between important chats or while watching a video. This is why the ad blocking technology was created. So, adios! Social media ads. Now, your audience is probably blind to your ads on social media, TV, and emails. How do you reach them?
So, here’s the thing, most people will talk to people they know, trust and like to get advice when making a purchase decision. For example, you’d most likely ask someone or Google “reviews” about a particular hotel or restaurant before making reservations. This is why brand ambassadors are the real deal. People influence other people’s decision even when it comes to making purchases.
What are the Brand Ambassador Marketing Strategies?
Now that you know why you need brand ambassadors, you may be curious about what marketing strategies these brand ambassadors will use to help strengthen your brand image and increase sales. There are many ambassador marketing strategies that brand ambassadors use. But these can be broadly categorized into three: Social media, Online reviews, Ambassador/Affiliate marketing software.
Let’s run through them, shall we?
1. Social Media
Again, it’s the 21st-century a.k.a. the digital century. Brand ambassadors use various social media platforms to spread the word about a brand. This is completely different from an advertisement. This time, your brand is projected through a person via social media.
Brand ambassadors can help share content or links relating to a brand to their friends and families on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In many cases, these brand ambassadors are remunerated with product bundles and free samples.
2. Online Reviews
Yelp or Tripadvisor is also a great online brand ambassador marketing strategy through which brand ambassadors can review your business. If you want to improve your reviews online, all you need to do is enlist the help of your brand ambassadors. You can in return, pay them per positive review or send them gifts.
3. Ambassador/Affiliate Software
The emergence of brand ambassadors and affiliate software make it easier than ever to manage and scale brand ambassadors’ social media campaigns. With these softwares, you can track the activity of each ambassador, their value added to your brand and incentivize them appropriately. You can pay them according to their contribution or send them free products. The distribution channel, in that case, doesn’t really matter as long as you can track the results and measure the ROI.
Don’t forget that this type of brand ambassadors already like your brand and product. So, in most cases, they will be just fine receiving free samples from you.
What is a Brand Ambassador Program?
Bet you’ve heard the phrase “brand ambassador program” before, if you know what it means, good for you. If you don’t, that’s why you are reading this.
So, it’s established that word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective tools a brand can ever employ. A substantial amount of purchases are influenced by word-of-mouth rather than ads. This is why many companies are creating their personal brand ambassador programs.
Get to the point already!
Patience people, patience.
A brand ambassador program is designed to utilize the passion of a brand’s most enthusiastic or loyal customers by giving them exclusive benefits and the autonomy to carry the brand’s message to consumers. It is basically creating a word-of-mouth scheme to help a brand, product or service receive optimal recognition and thrive.
Brand ambassador programs are designed to suit the personal needs of a brand. A brand ambassador program that works for one brand may not work for the other. That said, there are four types of brand ambassador programs. These are affiliate marketers, informal brand ambassadors, college ambassadors, and requirements-driven influencers.
This video from Adam Erhart tackles how to effectively build brand ambassadors:
Affiliate Brand Ambassador Program
This type of brand ambassador program is modeled on the affiliate marketing structure. This involves a partnership between a brand and some individuals, usually influencers or bloggers. These individuals function as affiliate marketers. This means that they promote a brand and in exchange, get a commission whenever a purchase is made through their promotion.
This brand ambassador program is a win-win for both sides as both the brand and affiliate marketer profit from the purchases.
College Brand Ambassador Program
This type of brand ambassador program is more popular than the other types and easily comes to mind when people think of brand ambassador programs. This type of brand ambassador program simply involves a partnership between a brand and students. The brand leverages the students’ internal connections to raise awareness for an organization and increase its sales. College brand ambassadors use word-of-mouth and social media promotion as their brand ambassador marketing strategies. Other marketing strategies include spotting outfits that advertise the brand they represent, hosting on-campus events, handing out product samples, putting up posters or coming up with ingenious ways to promote the brand they work for.
College ambassador programs are ideal for brands whose target consumers fall within the college or university demography.
Informal Brand Ambassador Program (Referral program)
The informal brand ambassador program is less structured than the other types. Anyone who shows unwavering loyalty or love for a brand can join this brand ambassador program. All he or she needs to do is spread the word about the brand to friends and families. Informal brand ambassadors may get incentives for purchases made based on their referrals. It is a highly efficient and powerful type of brand ambassador program.
Requirement-Driven Brand Ambassador Program
Requirement-driven brand ambassadors complete certain actions for a brand within a specific time frame. In this case, a company might reward the ambassadors with free products or money. Most of the time, requirement-driven brand ambassadors are influencers with high content engagement rates. This helps brands increase their ROI and raise awareness for their brands. The requirement-driven brand ambassador program is an economical way to develop a brand since the company only gives out free products or stipends to their brand ambassadors.
Top Brand Ambassador Programs
So far, you’ve learned the concept and types of brand ambassador programs.
But, does brand ambassador marketing beat the good old traditional marketing strategies?
Well, a survey of some top brands that have adopted this marketing strategy will convince you just how effective and profitable brand ambassador marketing is.
Maker’s mark has one of the most popular brand ambassador programs: The Embassy. This brand treats its ambassadors with recognition and utmost respect (People love to be treated right). Their brand ambassadors are rewarded with freebies such as special tastings; business cards and wait for it… get their names burned into the side of a bourbon barrel. (How special is that?)
This makes it super easier to recruit new brand ambassadors.
Oh, the company that sells athletic gears?
Yes, that one.
One thing you probably don’t know about this brand is its impressive brand ambassador program. This brand is targeted at the hip, athletic and vibrant unit of the society; the youth. This is why their brand ambassadors identify with this group of people. For promoting the brand, brand ambassadors are rewarded with recognition, autonomy, and fee products. Lululemon’s ambassadors are mostly athletes. This is a strategy to further build the brand’s credence.
So, if you are a company looking to promote your brand, there are several platforms which can help you access the right brand ambassadors, an example of such is Inbassador.
Inbassador helps brands expand their reach by giving them unlimited access to word-of-mouth among their customer base. This is achieved by reviewing the social media profiles of your customers to obtain the number of followers on each platform and their engagement rate. This is achieved in five simple steps:
- Connect your shop.
You can upload your CSV file or connect your data from Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce or MailChimp in a single click.
- Find influential customers.
- Boost sales.
- Track the results of each ambassador.
- Just kidding. That’s all!