What are brand ambassadors and why do brands need them?

15.05.2020 BRANDS

You might not know it, but your brand could be sitting on a goldmine. A goldmine that gives you access to a portion of the $6 trillion spent annually by consumers from word-of-mouth marketing. 

We’ve all experienced the power of word-of-mouth marketing. For businesses, word-of-mouth marketing works by customers or fans telling others within their network about the business. Perhaps a colleague suggested a nice place to go for dinner or a friend recommended a good film to watch.

Word-of-mouth marketing is effective because you trust the opinion of the person recommending something. From a brand’s perspective, customer word-of-mouth marketing is crucial. It involves providing excellent customer service to encourage them to naturally talk about the business in a positive light. 

Some brands, however, understand there’s another opportunity at play here. An opportunity that takes the elements of word-of-mouth marketing and combines it with the power of influencer marketing.

The opportunity: brand ambassadors.

In this post you’ll learn:

  • What brand ambassadors are and what they mean for businesses
  • Why it’s crucial to consider current customers as ideal brand ambassadors
  • How to utilise brand ambassadors as a great source of content
  • Why working with brand ambassadors leads to increased visibility and awareness
  • How brands could benefit from long-term advocacy

 

What are brand ambassadors?

A brand ambassador is someone who promotes a company or a specific product on behalf of a brand, generally using their own audience to promote the business. For the brand ambassador, the benefits lie within: working with a brand they’re fond of, remuneration for ongoing advocacy and steady income, free products, additional perks or even in-person experiences. When it comes to working with (and compensating) brand ambassadors, there is no one-rule-fits-all. It largely depends on what works well for both the ambassador and the brand. 

Brand ambassadors aren’t always influencers with millions of followers, they could be micro or nano influencers, or even customers - in short, anyone with some degree of organic reach could become a brand ambassador. They have a degree of authority with their audience. They’ve spent countless hours cultivating feeds, cover images and blog posts to ensure they attract the right people. This sense of authority makes them great to work with on a long term basis as a brand ambassador.

For businesses, brand ambassadors offer the opportunity to increase visibility, generate additional revenue and learn more about their target market. According to data from Nielsen, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.


Don’t forget to think about current customers

Customers are an important cohort that brands often neglect when it comes to brand ambassadors. Naturally, customers with a positive experience with a brand will be inclined to tell their friends and family about it. 

Although some customers might naturally tell their friends and family about products - these conversations happen in a silo. As these conversations happen organically without input from a brand - it goes without saying, it’s not a strategy that’s easily scalable or even measurable. 

Despite this, brands should still have a strong focus on good customer service to ensure their customers speak highly of them.


Brand ambassadors become a source of content

Working with creative brand ambassadors provides a wealth of content. Working with brand ambassadors on a long-term basis might mean some content focuses solely around the brand and other days it’s featured as content about a different topic. This wide range of content types is valuable when establishing authenticity. Consumers and followers need to see that the ambassador promoting the product is doing so out of genuine interest.

In our recent state of influencer marketing report we discovered that brands deem the quality of content to be a key driver for campaign success as well as influencer selection.

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What’s more, if content usage rights are within the ambassadorship contract - brands can use the content on their own social channels; providing them with additional creative content for no additional fee Do keep in mind, though, many brand ambassadors will charge a fee for rights to their content. 


Increase visibility and awareness

Without visibility, no one will know a brand exists. Brands can gain visibility by leveraging ambassadors with a large following who also have follower demographics and interests that match the target customer. After all, there’s little use working with an ambassador whose audience is 90% Australian, if the brand only ships to the UK.

By doing due diligence before reaching out to brand ambassadors, brands can save time, money and effort that could be spent working on important tasks like growing the business. 

A great example to consider is Harley Davidson. Their ambassador programme is open to people who own a Harley Davidson bike. This is effective because they ensure any ambassador they accept has a genuine interest in the brand and the products already. 

Ambassador members are invited to exclusive events, run by Harley Davidson to create buzz around the brand and pique non-members curiosity. It doesn’t stop there, though. Ambassadors are able to have a part in product development, be at the forefront of new product launches and help guide the creative direction of the brand. By investing so much into their brand ambassadors, Harley Davidson have built themselves an army of fanatics eager and willing to tell others about the brand. 


Why long-term advocacy is more reliable

For some brands, it makes sense to run a one-off campaign. Perhaps for a new product launch, or running a seasonal offer. However, many brands can benefit from the value long-term advocacy offers. Firstly, it’s more reliable than running a one-off campaign with ambassadors you may not have worked with before. Second, it’s much more cost-effective in many cases and finally, it allows the opportunity to provide ambassadors with enough information and knowledge for them to extend their authentic voice when it comes to talking about the brand. 


Trusted authenticity

In most cases, brand ambassadors have already built their audience and gained their trust. As a brand name continues to crop up in conversations on various social channels, followers will start noticing and once they start noticing, they’ll start paying attention.

What’s more, looking at a brand’s current messaging, how much comes directly from the brand itself? As consumers are faced with endless communication from brands, they’ve quickly learned to ignore what might not be important for them. It’s the same reason 92% of consumers are more inclined to believe people who are in their circles than direct messages from a brand. 

Instead, they’re looking to their social channels. They consume their favourite followers' reviews to decide what to buy. In short, this is because people trust the opinion of someone who’s used the product more so than what the brand says about the product.


Cost-effective

Brands who work with new influencers for every campaign quickly see the costs adding up. For starters, there’s a lack of centralised pricing they can use to reference. For various reasons, one influencer may charge more or less than another. 

Working with brand ambassadors significantly reduces this cost. Not only is money saved by not working with the ‘wrong’ influencers, but spend can be managed on an ongoing basis once those fee details and negotiations have commenced. If paying brand ambassadors a monthly stipend for their work, brands can factor this into business costs in advance.

Remember, though, being a brand ambassador isn’t usually a full-time role for most people. They may receive incentives or cash, however, they do what they do because they have a genuine interest in the brand and want it to succeed.


Considerations before working with brand ambassadors

When deciding to work with brand ambassadors, be aware that you might want to set rules and requirements for their work with you. Some brands may ask that ambassadors avoid working with a competitor whilst they are working with you. Others might set out guidelines that stipulate when and how much ambassadors will be paid. 

In order for this to be effective, it needs to be included in a contract or agreement you set with the ambassador before the work with them commences.

Brand ambassadors have already earned their audiences trust, making them a valuable partner for promoting a brand.

Therefore, setting guidelines that both parties are happy with, before any work commences, will save future headache for both the brand and brand ambassador. Their connection with their audience allows them to communicate with them to deliver the brand’s message. 


Final thoughts

It’s clear to see for most businesses, brand ambassadors hold a great deal of value. They are external advocates for companies and offer a chance to build a real, genuine connection with a fresh, new audience. 

Even though brand ambassadors may have some monetary or other remuneration, what they offer is a trustworthy promotion for brands or products. Their connection with their audience allows them to communicate with their audience to deliver a brand’s message. They act as the first point of call for customer feedback and help drive invaluable brand visibility. 

In return, they are rewarded for their actions with whatever compensation that works  for both brand and brand ambassador  

Brand ambassadors who embody the brand and share the same ethics are vital for business - long term relationships are often more effective as the ambassador has time to really learn what makes a brand tick and has a genuine passion for the brand. 

To speak with one of our brand ambassador specialists about how your business could benefit from and utilise brand ambassadors, please get in touch.

 

Does your business work with brand ambassadors? Leave a comment below

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