Just about every company has, or should have, brand ambassadors. But who are they and why should you care? And maybe more importantly, how can a company or organization effectively engage and utilize them?
Let’s Start With the Who
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of brand ambassadors, they generally fall into three primary categories: employees, happy customers, and hired influencers. Let’s do a quick breakdown of these:
Employee brand ambassadors are such by default. Happy employees mean that you have happy brand ambassadors. Oftentimes, employees already use the company’s products or services. Your employees should be proud to talk about the company to their friends and family, their role within it, and the services, products or benefits the organization provides.
Loyal, happy customers and clients are the brand ambassadors more people are quick to recognize. Someone who has tried your products or used your services, been extremely happy with the results, and will happily share their experiences with just about anyone who will listen. These ambassadors will cheerfully refer you new business or validate another potential customer’s decision to work with you.
Influencers could be bloggers or other highly-visible individuals and celebrities who you can work with. Virtually none of these will agree to become brand ambassadors without some sort of reimbursement, whether that be monetary or product reimbursements. The benefits of influencers, however, is the trust they have built up with their audience. The trick here is to go as targeted as you can – don’t just grab the biggest celebrity you can – instead, focus on who will truly resonate with your brand’s audience.
Why Are Brand Ambassadors Important?
Every company should be recognizing and utilizing brand ambassadors as part of their overall brand strategy. But why? In short, ambassadors are earned media and help authenticate your company in a way that paid media simply can’t. The 2015 Global Trust in Advertising report from Neilson shows that while consumers do trust brand websites and email promotions they’ve signed up for, that still doesn’t compare to recommendations from people they know.
The most credible advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust. More than eight-in-10 global respondents (83%) say they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family. But trust isn’t confined only to those in our inner circle. In fact, two-thirds (66%) say they trust consumer opinions posted online—the third-most-trusted format.
So How to Engage These Ambassadors?
There are dozens of ways to engage brand ambassadors, and your company or organization’s brand strategy, coupled with your marketing efforts, should help determine your best course of action. A few quick ideas to get you started:
- For employees, you could have them (with clear disclosures) write reviews, blog posts or testimonials about why they came to work for the company. Did they use the products/services? Did they have an excellent brand experience previously? Were they drawn to the brand’s mission?
- If you’re not already, really begin engaging with your customers via social media. Respond to everyone’s comments, tweets, and likes. Retweet or repost your customer’s happy shout-outs. Address negative reviews in a thoughtful, caring manner (and hopefully turn an unhappy customer into a new ambassador!). Your ambassadors won’t necessarily be talking about you in hopes you will recognize them, but it will certainly go a long way when you do.
- For influencers, having a good pitch is essential to getting them to agree to be ambassadors. Influencers have spent considerable time and capital building up their audience’s trust, and as such, will be very selective in which brands they promote. Do your research and look for any potential influencers who may already be interacting with your brand – they’re the most likely to say yes.
- No matter which type of ambassador you try to engage, make sure you’re giving them the tools they need to be effective. Make your social and blog posts easy to share. If you have products, make some samples available for both them and anyone they refer. Offer incentives, such as previews of new products and services, to better give them the feeling of being part of your brand’s inner circle.
When engaged correctly, brand ambassadors can be an extremely effective piece of your brand’s overall strategy and promotional efforts. If you want help identifying who could be relevant ambassadors for your company or organization, we can help! Connect with us today to get started.