On the Internet, people can easily ask others what they think. This creates a whole layer of possibilities if you can build and manage an effective group of brand ambassadors.
Ambassadors can help potential customers learn more about you and your product without making potential customers feel “sold out”.
They can instill a sense of customer loyalty.
You can be a much stronger voice on social media than you can be, which helps promote your business effectively to consumers.
I’ve run a number of Ambassador programs and used the methodology you’ll find here to create Majestic (Link Intelligence Tool).
I remain a proud global brand ambassador for Majestic, and have also been an ambassador in many other roles at The Prince’s Trust (for some time), a car manufacturer, and an industry awards company, among others.
So I have tested the process from both sides over more than a decade. And in this article, you’ll discover some of the best practices you’ve learned for creating and managing an Ambassador program.
What does the Brand Ambassador Program give you:
- Better brand awareness.
- Thought leadership opportunities.
- Marketing tentacles in areas you can’t reach, such as private collections.
- Direct feedback on your product.
- A footprint larger than employees alone.
UNICEF offers a gold standard for brand ambassador programs
If you are planning to start an ambassador program, you must have a standard. I can think of no better organization than UNICEF as your beacon.
They got their show started in the 1950s by courting the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Roger Moore. the Today’s list is impressiveincluding David Beckham, Serena Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and Liam Neeson, just to name a few.
There is no doubt that these names do more for the UNICEF brand than money alone can buy.
You could put an ad on TV, but make Serena Williams the face of the ad during Wimbledon week and you can bet the impact is jacked up exponentially.
If UNICEF is a very lofty goal for you, you might want to look into it Wikipedia program As your gold standard (although I think their success depends a lot on the country).
Well – reach for the moon, not the stars
Not all of us run international charities and have superstars knocking on our door asking to be involved.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t get close to your field.
You don’t have to be a charitable organization, but you do need to have lofty goals in your particular line of work.
Somebody He needs to love your product.
You must aspire to position your brand as a thought leader and be ready to spread the message that you have something to offer your community.
There are even ways to run ambassador programs in what I would call questionable sectors, like poker or payday loans – although many of them really resemble influencer marketing.
Ambassador programs are most sustainable when ambassadors truly believe in you.
They need to believe in what you do. In most cases, they use your product every single day. It must sound fine if they’re going to talk about you, after all.
If they’re happy to sell their souls for a quick buck, that’s not an ambassadorial role. This is an actor or star who gets paid to advertise your product.
You just know the difference when you see it on TV. However, it is not entirely clear when you see it on YouTube or Twitter.
But in my opinion, the true ambassador of your business does not work under your supervision. They operate under their own awareness and may represent you – for better or for worse – while keeping them safe.
Hiring Brand Ambassadors: Do You Pay to Play?
It pays for ambassadors to find your brand, not the other way around. Sometimes the role of an ambassador is paid but more often, ambassadors wave a flag for free.
It started operating at the beginning of the last century as a subsidiary. While affiliate schemes are used to motivate some ambassadors, I don’t think they should be the mainstay of your ambassador program.
One of the charges that people might make against the “Pay to Play” Sphere program is that it could be seen as backdoor link buying.
I object to this because it grossly underestimates the effectiveness of a good ambassador. One example we can all see is the UNICEF Ambassadors above. Not all of them get paid, but at the same time, some travel around the world in UNICEF currency.
When I created Ambassador Majestic over a decade ago, I didn’t have a budget.
We recruited our ambassadors from our existing user base by looking at every user who signed up. We looked at people we understood to be influencing our world and first looked at whether they had interacted with technology before even accessing it.
This was a very important step – and one I miscalculated trying to set up a new program a decade later.
In 2009, I reached out to people who had already started buying the product. So it cannot be denied that they believe in the product from the very beginning of the relationship.
I don’t know how UNICEF works, but I imagine UNICEF didn’t approach Serena Williams until she proved her affinity for the brand with a donation.
Once that distinction is made, the pay-to-play question becomes less controversial. However, the ambassador and the brand may need to clarify this relationship ahead of time.
Think about traditional (country) ambassadors for a moment
There is, in fact, a real problem in reaching ambassadors who previously did not have an affinity and understanding of your work. The purpose of an ambassador is to instill confidence in a product, service or even a country.
Can you imagine that the US ambassador to the UK is not a US citizen?
Nor can I imagine such an ambassador working for free.
No matter how much or not a search engine may demand to be shown when paying an online ad, this demand of search engines starts to become implausible on some levels.
Each employee (I was hoping) is truly an ambassador for your business and gets paid.
On the other hand, every customer could Be an ambassador for your business and they pay you.
Obviously, agendas will be different among employees, clients, and ambassadors, but agendas don’t always align with your goals.
If not paid, what is the trade?
In B2C, something online is said to be “free,” then You are She is the producer.
It’s not that way when you run the ambassador program. There is definitely a trade. Personal branding versus corporate brand association at the very least.
I was hoping they would say nice things about your gadget. Therefore, you should gain more trust from your audience and start engaging your prospects directly.
That’s it! They are not your sales team and they are not your followers.
Now ask yourself: what is the point of it? Here are some of the things I’ve seen people use to add value to their brand ambassador program:
- Free tickets to events: We have often paid for our ambassadors to be at events where the cost is not great, Especially If they talk.
- Dinner at the award shows: These dinners can be pricey, but they’re great to see in the right crowd. If you’re booking a few tickets, it’s often just as cost-effective to book a table.
- Flight and hotel: We often covered a flight and hotel for an event for an ambassador in a particular area in exchange for their assistance with a booth. This reduces the need to fly as many people from your home, and many times, having a customer on your stand is better than a salesperson anyway at these events!
- Ambassador meeting: I know that SEMrush runs a meeting of its ambassadors every year. (I haven’t been invited yet) 🙂
- Quotes (both ways): I like to list my ambassadors openly. In doing so, I link to their site or social profile. Sometimes they link back – perhaps to the ambassador’s page. If they are proud to be an ambassador, this link gives them an external endorsement of their standing in the community. It also checks their ambassador status.
- platform: Let them post interesting information on your blog, but don’t force it. Some will love it. Others won’t.
- Affiliation commission: That might be an option, but perhaps lowering or waiving their fees would be more welcome and less formal.
Setting guidelines is really the difference between a program and basic social media marketing. I found the idea of the Ambassador Charter to be very effective.
Rather than a full agreement or contract, the simple and transparent way to administer the Ambassador Program is to publicly display a page containing the Code of Conduct that the Ambassadors agree to direct.
Asking an ambassador, especially a voluntary one, to sign a contract is difficult and frankly, it’s overkill.
An ambassador should feel free to express his views.
Of course, you hope it’s support for your product, but an ambassador’s integrity comes before you. If they don’t portray integrity, what’s the point of them being your ambassador anyway?
A public document is a simple way to make sure all stakeholders are on the same page. It was a simple statement that says what the public can expect from an ambassador. for example:
- What are the common values between you and the ambassadors?
- Do they speak with their voices? Are they free to express their opinions?
- Will they look to treat the brand and the audience you’re speaking to with respect?
These are just a few points that could be in the charter. All in all, it should be inspiring and – for the love of all that is good – keep it short!
Measure your brand ambassador program
I used to try and track whenever someone mentioned my brand and keep a tally of who said what. In the end, I realized that this was only useful as a measure of vanity.
It is always a good idea to try to find out how your paying customers have heard of you and referred to you.
The ambassador’s name may appear in that conversation. Regardless, I still don’t believe many automated tracking systems when it comes to tracing back the original source.
There is usually (or at least often) an intermediate step between a potential customer’s interest in what you have to offer and their purchase. There is usually a conversation at this point – “demo”.
Take a moment at any presentation you have with clients and ask them how they found you. You’d be surprised how many times an ambassador or client has serenaded you.
In the end, they may have written your brand or site into Chrome, but that doesn’t mean it’s a “direct” sale.
This means that you did not trace back the source of the lead.
A successful Brand Ambassador program can offer significant business advantages, helping you reach new audiences in compelling and authentic ways.
Focus on the value your program brings to those you want to engage with, and offer benefits that will attract people who align with your goals.
Provide a transparent ambassadorial charter to guide your efforts.
And don’t forget to make sure you measure what matters, to determine the success of the program and to find opportunities to improve its performance.
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Featured image: Shutterstock / Motortion Films