In today’s age of influencer marketing, brands are increasingly looking for ways to cultivate organic relationships with customers that translate into positive word-of-mouth advertising. Some brands are turning to the use of brand ambassadors—paid customers who act as spokespersons on behalf of the brand. Typically, these relationships go beyond a sponsored post on a blog or a short social media campaign, and represent more of an ongoing relationship that helps deliver sustained visibility to the content creator’s brand over time. Here’s a closer look at what marketers need to know about brand ambassador programs and how to decide if one is right for your company.
Choosing a brand ambassador: Choosing a brand ambassador is similar to the influencer marketing programs many companies are accustomed to running today. However, even more care must be used when selecting a brand ambassador. One has only to consider the recent headline-making scandals faced by brands like Subway. Before closely linking your brand to a potential ambassador, it’s important not only to understand their audience and influence but also to conduct a full assessment on whether they accurately represent your company’s vision and values.
Structuring ambassador programs: Companies with long-term successful brand ambassador programs create clear program structures. What does it really mean to be an ambassador for your company? In some cases, it may mean regularly contributing content or taking part in brand events. In other cases, a content creator’s spokesperson is more deeply embedded with your company’s team and may represent the brand at events or conferences and in other contexts where they have actually been invited under the merit of their own brands. Clarify early on what your company expects and what compensation you will offer in return for these activities.
Defining return on investment (ROI): Defining the reasons why you are investing in a full-fledged ambassador program is an important component of capturing a full ROI. Common goals include raising brand visibility, being associated with important thought leaders, and expanding your audience. Defining what a positive ROI looks like not only makes it easier for you to measure progress but also provides important context for helping your ambassadors be successful in their role.
Dedicated marketing staff: A successful brand ambassador program requires having a central point of contact. This individual, who should be within the Marketing department, can act as a resource for brand-related questions, communicate the company’s goals for the program, and answer questions and concerns ambassadors may have. Dedicate an individual who can run the program and act as a resource for both internal stakeholders and brand ambassadors.
A full-scale brand ambassador program can be a viable alternative to single-campaign influencer marketing initiatives. However, before making the investment in a full-fledged brand ambassador program, clearly define your goals, and ensure you know both how the program will run and how you will define success.