Ambassador marketing has become one of the best ways to increase brand awareness, trust, referrals and loyalty. In today’s creator economy, the one-off, pay-to-play partnership with well-known talent is becoming a strategy of the past. While that approach could be of value for certain brands, the larger opportunity certainly is to develop deeper connections with influencers.
This is the sense of ambassador programs. The goal of ambassador or creator programs is to avoid more transactional relationships, and instead to develop real relationships with influencers and bring them aboard your brand, and to be a true part of your marketing strategies.
While these programs do require more attention and can seem daunting to develop, a great place to start is to look for influencers who speak positively about your company, whether through shout outs about your business or in recommending a latest purchase to their followers.
Brand ambassadors can drive sales, boost brand awareness and help your business create a community by increasing a social media presence and engaging with their community of followers. A good brand ambassador is one who is relevant to your brand and holds a strong connection with your desired target audience.
Of course, all of your ambassadors must be aligned with the idea of providing a positive and consistent brand experience. But those employees, customers, influencers or business partners who do not believe in your company’s mission or share similar values cannot be strong ambassadors.
Social outreach is key
Leveraging social media first will be most effective because your customers are already there. Since 74% of consumers rely on social media for purchasing decisions, having your brand ambassadors speak highly of your brand or recent products on various social platforms can be extremely beneficial to your business.
After all, these types of programs are meant to be engaged with in an always-on capacity to drive measurable growth for brands. This means they are not light-switch campaigns, but rather are always ongoing and are generally evergreen in nature.
Relationships with creators mean more than just socializing with them casually, but instead involves giving something back that can be valuable to them. Some examples of providing value could include giving them greater experiences, the opportunity to be involved in content production, getting involved in new product launches, and being offered exclusive invitations to headquarters or access to private events.
It is a brand’s responsibility to understand what would be a valuable incentive for creators to help them better align with its business.
Despite these obvious advantages only 31% of business-to-business marketing leaders say they have strong brand ambassador programs, according to Forrester’s Brand and Communications Survey. Direct-to-consumer brands and those businesses hungry for measurable growth are beginning to give this strategy a chance. The remainder of organizations are missing out on a prime opportunity to leverage loyal creators who can speak on their behalf.
A model ambassador program
Viral Nation helped kick off and set the strategy for the Victoria Secret’s Pink ambassador program. The program was created for college students to represent a brand that embodies the energy and excitement of college life.
Once becoming ambassadors, creators collaborate with other students on campus by spearheading events, organizing marketing campaigns and collaborating with their local Pink stores. That’s all aimed at increasing brand awareness among the brand’s youthful target audience. In return, ambassadors receive exclusive products and deals, and the opportunity to network with other Pink ambassadors for the chance to influence future product launches.
Here are some things you need to know to get started with a brand ambassador program of your own:
- Identify the broader business objectives and how ambassadors can play a role in your goals.
- Identify the right persona of those creators who can authentically speak to your audience.
- Identify and build a meaningful incentive model that will be attractive to your creators.
- Structure a team and resource plan for relationship-building and management of your creators.
And don’t forget to track your creators’ progress to understand which campaigns are successful and those that can be stronger; that will be beneficial in the long run. And of course, maintain a relationship with your ambassadors to encourage them to be loyal customers and represent your brand well.