Endorsements wanted: What is a brand ambassador, and why do you need one?
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Endorsements wanted: What is a brand ambassador, and why do you need one?

Brand Ambassador

Let’s face it, the online world is one seriously loud place. There’s so much chatter to contend with, on blogs, articles, social media platforms, and even video-sharing websites, that the noise is practically deafening. Yet, if you want your brand recognition strategy to thrive, you need to figure out how to cut through all the commotion.

While content marketing strategies and careful targeting can help to give your voice a specific focus, cultivating the opinions, and endorsements of your brand’s biggest fans can help you to naturally increase your online volume, in a way that not only boosts brand awareness but helps to earn the long-term trust of your fans.

A brand ambassador is basically a speakerphone for your brand message. These unique people help you to take control of the conversation that’s already happening around your products and services, so you can begin to build a more loyal and informed audience through “word of mouth marketing”.

By recruiting celebrity brand ambassadors and everyday loyal customers, you can quickly enhance the personality of your business, and ensure that you’re having the right impact on the right audience. After all, empowering your fans to market for you means that you not only get a low-cost solution for advertising – you also benefit from a wider network of qualified leads. Remember, 92% of customers prefer recommendations over promotional content.

So, what is a brand ambassador? How can you use them in your business, and where do you go about finding the best possible recruits?

Let’s find out.

What is a brand ambassador?

The first questions we need to answer are “what are brand ambassadors, and what can they do for your business?”

A brand ambassador is the ultimate solution for getting your company message out into the world. The chances are that you already know the basis of a good marketing strategy, from email marketing campaigns to social media efforts and content marketing. A brand ambassador strategy is the amplifier that enhances the volume of those existing plans, to make your entire brand much more powerful.

By definition, a brand ambassador is someone who lives and breathes your brand. It’s someone who loves and appreciates the products and services that you have to offer so much that they’re happy to do your marketing for you. As word of mouth marketing continues to be one of the most powerful tools for budding brands, brand ambassadors can start, direct, and improve conversations that customers are having about your company, to improve brand engagement, and deliver ongoing success.

While some companies focus more heavily on celebrity brand ambassadors (something we’ll cover a little later), it’s worth noting that most campaigns start with nothing more than a few loyal customers who’ve shown impeccable brand affinity. After all, people appreciate the opinions and thoughts of people that they can resonate with. If you find a brand ambassador that your customers can relate to – celebrity or otherwise, you’re sure to see your sales increase.

Here are just some of the benefits of a brand ambassador:

Brand Ambassador

1. What is a brand ambassador? Word of mouth advertising

A brand ambassador can be your first step into the world of “WOM” advertising. According to experts, most word of mouth marketing is positive in nature, and even more importantly, positive WOM is more credible than negative chatter. Brand ambassadors get involved in conversations on behalf of your brand, sharing their positive experiences with the world, and encouraging new customers to seek you out.

2. What is a brand ambassador? Strength in numbers

If today’s competitive space is populated by infinite brands all trying to shout louder than the other, it makes sense that the brand with more voices will achieve more sales. As competition grows fiercer online, a brand ambassador can be the first soldier in the army that you use to strengthen your market position and outshine your competitors.

3. What is a brand ambassador? Online reputation management

No matter what you do online, you’re going to end up with a reputation. Learning how to build your brand carefully and portray the right personality can help you to manage that reputation. However, brand ambassadors are more likely to have a lasting impact on the perception of your brand, thanks to the natural trust they’ve already built with your target customer. Brand ambassadors can therefore help you to address bad reviews online, come to the rescue when negative conversations occur, and build a positive image of your brand.

4. What is a brand ambassador? Cost effective marketing

While it’s fair to say that you may need to pay a fair bit more for celebrity brand ambassadors than employee or fan advocates, most standard brand ambassador campaigns are great for companies who need a budget-friendly solution to digital marketing. WOM advertising is responsible for about $6 trillion in annual spending every year, and if you start with fans, then your campaign will cost you next to nothing. That’s ROI you just can’t argue with.

Brand Ambassador

What are brand ambassadors doing for your business?

People are the key to any successful brand. You don’t need to be a marketing agency to know that much.

The right people, saying the right things, in the right places, can be a great way for any brand to earn a huge number of loyal, happy customers. Combine the right people, with a good digital marketing strategy, a solid website design, and a powerful brand – and you’re set for life.

Of course, before you can start plugging a brand ambassador campaign into your business and brand strategy, you’re going to need to know how you can measure their success. What are brand ambassadors really doing for your business? How do they transform your company into something your target customers can relate to?

1. A brand ambassador humanises your business

Peoples like to buy things from other people – not faceless companies or corporate machines. That’s why so many businesses employ huge sales departments, just to add a “human touch” to their brand voice. Brand ambassadors can become one of the most human parts of your company, as real people with real backgrounds, and real personalities. They can contribute to the idea that your business has authenticity at its centre by communicating with your customers in a natural way, and show first-hand, just how much your company values its consumers.

2. Your brand ambassador creates the “loyalty ripple” effect

The “loyalty ripple” effect is a psychological concept that suggests that loyal customers don’t just give you value in the form of ongoing profit streams, they also help to cultivate new customers through word of mouth communication. Though the official study was written way back before online WOM was a significant thing, it’s premise holds true today. If people can see happy customers raving about your business, then they’re far more likely to trust that you can give them the same experience.

3. A brand ambassador creates social reach and trust

The more people you have talking about your brand and reaching out to new customers, the more likely you are to benefit from a larger, more active social following. It’s just simple maths. Each of your brand ambassadors can influence their social network, who then influence their network and their networks, and so on. Not only is your reach better with a brand ambassador, but these people can also help to ensure that you access more open-minded prospects too. Since people are more likely to trust peer recommendations, your new customers will approach you with the belief that you can actually give them what they want.

Celebrity brand ambassadors: What you need to know

Up until this point, we’ve focused primarily on fan ambassadors when it comes to answering the question of “what is a brand ambassador?” However, if you’ve got a little extra cash to splash, you can go one step further with your campaign, and access the influence of celebrity brand ambassadors.

Celebrity brand ambassadors have been around for decades, from Michael Jordan’s Coca-Cola commercials to the Backstreet Boys on your Burger King meals. These types of endorsements are effective because we naturally want to feel as though we’re the same as our idols. If you know that the love of your life, George Clooney, drinks Nespresso, then you’ll drink it too, just to feel closer to your icon.

The good news is that even if you don’t have a huge marketing budget, there are still ways for you to access celebrity brand ambassadors through things like “micro-influencer campaigns”. You might have to settle for B-listers, but you can still find that even a small celebrity does huge things for your brand reputation. So, what do you need to do to when you want to use celebrity brand ambassadors?

Step 1: Choose your celebrity with caution

Even a small celebrity can work wonders if you choose the right person. Ultimately, it’s not the amount of money you spend on your marketing that matters, but how closely you can connect with your target audience through the use of the right personality, the right marketing elements, and the right reach.

Begin by brainstorming celebrities that you think represent the ideals or values of your brand. If you already know a few celebs that have used or shown interest in your product before, then that’s a great place to start. Once you have a list, think about how a connection with each person will impact your brand reputation. For instance, if you want to be seen as a family-friendly company, then you might not want to choose a celebrity that’s constantly being snapped in scandalous situations.

It was Kylie Jenner’s edgy, youthful vibe that helped her to become the face of “Nip & Fab“. The brand knew they needed to capture the attention of young, style-conscious customers, and turned to a celeb who embodied the nature of their company.

Step 2: Getting in touch

Once you’ve established who your ideal celebrity brand ambassadors are, you’ll need to reach out and make a connection. This is a pretty fragile part of the brand ambassador program, as if you make the wrong impression during that first meeting, you could not only lose the interest of your celeb but also create a powerful naysayer speaking out against your brand.

The easiest way to connect with a celebrity is to send something to their agent. Write up an email with all the information the celebrity will need to know about your brand and send along some free samples if you can, to help give them an insight into your value.

Brand Ambassador

According to Forme Labs, they sent an email to Linda Barker’s agent in an attempt to make her a brand ambassador for their company. Eventually, Linda visited their office for a meeting to find out more about the company, which led to a long-term partnership.

Step 3: Create a plan

Finally, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on celebrity brand ambassadors, then you need to make sure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Think carefully about how you can maximise your influence through your celeb, by asking them to attend events, take part in interviews, and share information about your products on your behalf.

One of the easiest ways to expand your brand ambassador program today is to ask your celebrity endorser to start getting involved with your brand on social media. Find out where your customers are spending their time, then ask your celeb to reach out to your customers with pictures, status updates, and links back to your website.

The more comprehensive your plan is, the more successful your campaign is likely to be.

Brand Ambassador

How to start your brand ambassador program

Alright, so you know the value of a brand ambassador program, and you even know how to reach out to celebrity brand ambassadors. Now, all you need to do is get started.

A brand ambassador campaign can be a very simple and effective way to gain the respect and attention of your audience. However, you need to make sure that you plan your campaign carefully so that it can work alongside your other marketing efforts as seamlessly as possible. Remember, building a powerful brand is all about consistency.

Here’s how you can start a brand ambassador program that works:

1. Identify the right people

The first thing you need to do when building a powerful brand ambassador program is decide who your ambassadors are going to be. Think about your existing online presence, and how you can build on your current campaigns with people who have previously shown interest or love for your company.

Here, you’ll start to decide whether you’re going to empower your loyal customers into becoming the faces of your brand, or whether you want to invest in celebrity brand ambassadors. If your budget allows for it, the best solution may be to incorporate both options into your plan.

2. Develop a lifestyle, not just a brand

Don’t get us wrong – a brand is a powerful thing. However, if you want your brand ambassador initiative to work, you need to make your company into something more powerful. Starbucks isn’t just a company that sells coffee, for instance, it’s a company that conveys a specific image of youth, luxury, and society.

The only way to make sure that you’re attracting the best people to your brand ambassador program is to make sure that your influencers are devoted to your mission and the values that you have as a brand. Think about how you can convey your brand as a lifestyle.

3. Establish some clear goals

Goals are an important element of any marketing or brand building campaign. While your ultimate goal might be to get more sales, there’s more to a great brand ambassador program than padding out your wallet. Think about how your ambassadors can help your company earn more through:

  • Better brand awareness.
  • Improved social reputation.
  • Stronger content marketing solutions.
  • Wider reach.
  • Word of mouth authority.
Brand Ambassador

4. Choose your platforms

A brand ambassador can’t do much for your company if you don’t give them a soapbox to stand on. Like with many marketing campaigns today, you’ll need to think about where your customers spend the majority of their time, to decide which platforms you should use during your strategy.

For instance, if your business is geared towards a younger, more visual audience, then you might be keen to get your brand ambassadors onto social media channels like Snapchat or Instagram. On the other hand, if you’re a B2B business looking for professional clients, you might be better served by LinkedIn.

5. Track performance

Finally, if you want your brand ambassador program to work for you, and keep working in the future, then you’re going to need it to be scalable. With your goals in mind, think about how you can measure the performance of your ambassadors. For instance, you might look at how many people come to your websites from their links, or how many followers they’ve sent to your social media pages.

Compare your KPIs over time to see whether your brand ambassadors are having a big enough impact – and remember to reward them when they do well. A happy ambassador is a productive team member.

Brand Ambassador

Brand ambassador wanted: How to find the perfect recruits

Finally, we’ve come to the point where you’re going to need to start recruiting your brand ambassadors. While the ideal ambassador for any company is likely to change depending on things like voice, personality, and even industry, there are a few key personality traits that should be present in any influential figure, if you want to make sure that your brand ambassador program works.

Here are some of the things we think you should look for, when starting your “Brand Ambassador Wanted” recruitment drive:

1. A basic understanding of marketing

This doesn’t necessarily mean that your brand ambassador has to be a trained marketing professional, but they should have a general knowledge of what they can do for your company and why. The better your ambassador is at marketing, the more natural their performance will be.

2. A strong online presence or personal brand

We mentioned above that you don’t necessarily need celebrity brand ambassadors to be successful, but the people you choose should have a powerful personal brand. Consider their social reach, how active they are online, and how they’ve established their personality through a personal blog, website, and other online elements.

3. A great attitude

You don’t want to be locked into a long-standing relationship with someone you can’t stand. If you don’t like the personality of your brand ambassador, then you could end up getting into some serious conflicts later down the line. Make sure that your brand ambassador is professional, easy to like, and brimming with natural leadership potential.

Brand Ambassador

4. A passion for your brand

This should be an obvious feature of any brand ambassador. You need someone on your side who already loves your product and service. If your ambassadors are faking their appreciation for your brand just for a paycheque, then your customers are going to see through it. This could have a serious impact on your reputation.

5. The ability to offer insight

Finally, your brand and your marketing campaigns are going to change with time. A great brand ambassador should be able to gather the necessary feedback from your followers to tell you how and when you should change to keep the loyalty and interest of your target market. This way, your ambassadors can be more than just a marketing team, they can also help your business to evolve.

Just like with any other communication and marketing strategy, a brand ambassador program will require a careful mix of strategy, professionalism, technology, and resources to be successful. If you can find the right ambassadors, and the right digital marketing agency to hold all the different parts of your mix together, then you should end up with a strong, growing brand.

Speaking of which, we’re currently on the lookout for our own brand ambassadors. If you like our company, appreciate what we do – or just want to learn more about the team at Fabrik, why not get in touch?

If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy these too:

— How to master your word of mouth marketing

— Brand engagement and the rules of attachment

— Is it time to re-consider influencer marketing?

— Why you need a dedicated social strategy

Steve Harvey
Steve Harvey
Our co-founder, Steve Harvey, is also a regular contributor to Brand Fabrik, a flagship publication covering topics relevant to anyone in branding, marketing and graphic design. Steve shares his enthusiasm for brand naming through his articles and demonstrates his knowledge and expertise in the naming process.

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