What Is a Brand Ambassador?
Given the recent buzz about them, you may be wondering “What is a brand ambassador?” Brand ambassadors are individuals who love particular brands and their associated products and services. They may be celebrities, experts in the brand’s field, your employees, or customers. While they come from all walks of life, brand ambassadors have a common desire to promote the brands they love. Given the power of positive word-of-mouth marketing, marketers would do well to partner with ambassadors passionate about endorsing their brands.
What Does a Brand Ambassador Do?
Brand ambassadors feel genuine love for the brands they promote. They use their products and services and want to tell others how great they are. This effort is so important at a time when word-of-mouth testimonials drive more than half of all purchase decisions.
Successful brand ambassadors don’t let opportunities to promote the products and services they love go by them. They talk about their brands with their friends, post about them on social media, blog about them, and more. They speak authentically about the products and services they love rather than sticking to marketing scripts. Even when they’re following brand guidelines, their promotion seems genuine and unforced.
Similarities Between Brand Ambassadors and Influencers
Given the similarities between them, many marketers use the terms brand ambassador and influencer interchangeably. Brand ambassadors and influencers both promote products and services to their networks. They’re chosen because they have some degree of authority, whether through their professional standing or their popularity. They also promote what they’re passionate about, using their own authentic voices rather than marketing scripts.
And the Differences…
A few key differences separate brand ambassadors and influencers. Brand ambassadors are existing customers passionate about the companies they endorse. Influencers often have no pre-existing relationship with the brands they promote. Brands choose influencers for their reach and influence over their own respective networks.
While they have the same goals, influencers and brand ambassadors also work slightly differently. Influencers promote by example, showing others how they incorporate products into their daily lives within a public space. For example, an influencer based in Argentina who loves to run and is sponsored by an athletic brand will likely be wearing that brand’s logo in the majority of social posts focused on daily running. Brand ambassadors promote brands by telling others about them, either online or offline. Influencers work with brands for a short time, typically promoting their products or services once or twice, while brand ambassadors have long-term relationships with the brands they support.
Influencers are compensated for their promotional efforts, typically with cash payments or free products. While brand ambassadors often receive compensation, many are passionate about the brands they love and they’ll promote them for free.
Some influencers are always influencers who promote products or services, then move to other efforts. Others become so enamored with particular brands that they start promoting them without prompting over time. These people transition from influencer status to brand ambassadors.
How to Find Quality Candidates
Brand ambassadors regularly interact with brands every day. Take steps to identify your ambassadors and solidify your relationship with them. Pay attention to the people regularly commenting on your social networks. You could also track who’s regularly using hashtags related to your brand. Searching through your sales figures can also help you identify regular customers.
Remember that influencers can also become brand ambassadors, so don’t close yourself off to people with whom you’re not already interacting. Trade shows and industry conferences can help you network with people in your niche that could become influencers and later brand ambassadors for you. Resources such as Intellifluence can also put you in touch with established influencers open to forming long-term relationships with you.
Once you’ve identified several candidates, look at their online profiles. Select people who are engaging and interesting. While solid social networks are important, they should take a back seat to the level of engagement your potential brand ambassadors inspire. A small but active social network is much more valuable than a larger network of people who don’t care. Reach out to your best candidates in a comment or private message and inquire about whether they’d like to become ambassadors for your brand.
And Retain Them…
Given the importance of brand loyalty for ongoing sales and success, you want to retain the ambassadors that regularly promote your products and services. One of the best ways to retain your ambassadors is to make them feel important.
While compensation isn’t essential for ambassadors as it is for influencers, it’s always welcome. In addition to free products and financial compensation, you could give ambassadors an ongoing discount on your products. Other perks such as early access to sales and invitations to company events can also sweeten the deal. Don’t underestimate the importance of regular communication. Your praise and feedback can help your ambassadors feel part of your organization.
Influencers can be a valuable part of any marketing strategy, but for a more long-term relationship, look to brand ambassadors. These company cheerleaders can provide valuable exposure and goodwill toward your brand and its products or services now and in the future.