Enlisting a community of brand ambassadors to help generate online excitement around your business is a great alternative to traditional marketing. But that doesn’t mean the act of campaigning or strategising falls away. In fact, it gives you a unique opportunity to build an exceptionally impactful ambassador marketing strategy.
However, the approach will be different from the one you take with traditional marketing. There are a number of best practices to keep in mind while planning ambassador marketing campaigns that will drive sales, create buzz on social media, and increase brand awareness.
Why Choose Ambassador Marketing?
Ambassador marketing is the use of your biggest fans, followers, and customers to promote your brand. It’s similar to influencer marketing with the biggest difference being that brand ambassadors may not be online celebrities. They often have smaller follower counts, but because they actually love your brand and use your products or services in their everyday lives, their word is impactful.
A well-thought-out ambassador marketing strategy has many advantages over traditional paid advertising:
It is often less expensive than paid ads
It can provide up to twice the sales of paid advertising and 37% higher customer retention rates
Ambassadors typically enter into long-term relationships not only promoting but also buying from your brand
85% of consumers find visual UGC more influential than brand photos or videos.
Building an ambassador marketing program provides you with an unmatched chance to connect with your consumers on a personal level. By involving consumers in your marketing efforts, you build a mutually beneficial relationship that positions your brand as one that they have a personal investment in.
How is Ambassador Marketing Changing?
Ambassador marketing has increased in popularity over the last few years because it replicates the feeling of receiving a product recommendation from a friend. But after Covid-19 struck, the initial model of ambassador marketing shifted to meet the new demands of an increasingly eCommerce-based world.
As more brands were forced online, the eCommerce climate became oversaturated. Now brands are competing not only with other companies in their area, but all across their country, and the world.
Want to know how brands that utilise an ambassador marketing strategy have prospered through difficult economic periods? Click the highlighted text to find out.
There’s also been a shift in terms of how consumers think about and relate to brands. The brands you choose to purchase from have always had a link to your personal identity. For example:
Ford lovers have a rivalry with Chevy lovers that ranges from playful to serious
Clothing brands have historically conveyed status
There is a never-ending debate between iPhone users and various android users
The label on the products you buy can paint a picture of who you are and what you value. Today, pressure from social media encourages people to scrutinise brands for their ideals and vision. Boasting that you’ve bought from a brand that is considered by the majority to be unethical or controversial can have rippling social effects.
Because of this, consumers are more particular about the brands they purchase from and recommend. And brands need to be more conscientious about the image they’re promoting and who they’re partnering with to generate awareness and engagement.
An Ambassador Marketing Strategy that Packs a Punch
Repsly created a list of the four most impactful brand ambassador practices, which included the following guidelines:
Your company will attract more attention with a strong social media strategy.
Listen to what your brand ambassadors tell you about your products or events, so you can learn from them.
Plan campaigns that are data-driven, so that you can monitor the responses to your products or the work your ambassadors are doing with measurable stats.
Encourage your brand ambassadors to express themselves and represent your products through their own unique content ideas. This will help them feel more involved in the marketing process.
Although this list offers sage advice that remains relevant today, we believe that this year’s most impactful brand ambassador practices will look a little different.
Impacting Your Ambassadors Helps Your Brand Thrive
Through social media, consumers interact with your brand as if it’s a person. Brands now have Twitter feeds where they talk like characters - creating beef with their competition, responding to customers publicly, and engaging with their followers.
People are building relationships with brands. So one of the most important things a brand can do is nurture that relationship and go the extra mile to make their consumers feel valued. The way you communicate with your brand ambassadors is incredibly important. It sets the tone for your brand and makes your ambassadors want to go the extra mile for you.
Allison + Partners published a report in which they highlighted some of the guiding principles brands should adopt during times of great uncertainty. But we believe these ideas should be implemented in your ambassador marketing strategy no matter what world events are occurring. So we decided to share our most impactful guidelines here:
1. Give Your Ambassadors What You Can
Have you ever received a surprise package in the mail? The excitement and intrigue that surrounds an unexpected delivery can brighten almost any day. Imagine this mystery package turns out to be from one of your favourite brands. Now, there’s an extra layer of exclusivity attached to it.
A brand you love recognised and chose you out of their thousands of consumers? What?!
It doesn’t take much to make your brand ambassadors feel special. Consider sending out a surprise freebie once in a while. You’ll lift the spirits of your community and they’ll be certain to spread the word on all of their socials.
Random acts of kindness build brand loyalty. Your ambassadors will feel genuinely valued and will reward you for it by continuing to choose you over their competitors.
2. Check in with Your Ambassadors
Another great way to make your brand ambassadors feel valued is by simply checking in. Especially around holidays or major world events. We’re all human. Asking if there are any additional resources or insights you can offer them shows you see them as people, not just sales.
Especially if you’re a B-Corporation or a company that heavily uses your values in your brand image - checking in proves that you genuinely uphold those values.
You could even send a message simply to ask if they’re okay, especially if something major has occurred on a global or national scale. This act alone will build loyalty between you and your ambassadors because you’ll show them that the brand cares about their well-being.
3. Listen and Learn
You’ve built up a community of consumers. Why wouldn’t you use them to get the inside scoop on what your target audience wants?
Think of your ambassadors as flies on the wall of society. They are your ticket to being ‘in the know’. Your ambassadors are experts on what’s trendy. They understand how to create content that could attract more potential customers for your brand, so give them the chance to speak up and convey information about your supporters that you might not be aware of. Listen to them and apply their ideas to your brand ambassador activities going forward.
Red Bull’s ambassador marketing strategy includes asking their community of Student Marketeers to understand the market and seek opportunities for the brand. (Image Source)
There are tons of ways to learn from your ambassadors. You can ask them to create content using current social media trends. You can ask them to send you links to some of the best and worst brand content they’ve seen.
Try creating fun, interactive polls with rewards for participating. And once in a while do a deep dive to see what kind of content your ambassadors are creating, who they’re following, and what content is being posted by the accounts they follow.
4. Offer Greater Opportunities
Some brands look at brand ambassadors solely as promotional tools. But your ambassadors want to feel like they’re in partnership with your brand. Allison + Partners suggests that dedicated focus groups with members of your brand ambassador program are highly impactful when it comes to building an ambassador marketing strategy.
Hosting a type of ‘influencer roundtable’ meeting will allow you to connect with your ambassadors and micro-influencers (and for them to connect with each other) with the common goal of promoting your brand. It will make your ambassadors feel as important as any other employee of your company, and shine a spotlight on them as an integral force within your word-of-mouth marketing department.
It will also give you the opportunity to learn about content ideas that are completely outside the box and help you better connect with your target audience.
Other ways to provide bigger opportunities for your brand ambassadors include:
Creating exclusive, high-reward marketing tasks for top-performing ambassadors
Featuring their content on your websites and social media
Using their content for large marketing campaigns like Popsockets did by projecting ambassador content on iconic architecture in London, UK.
Giving your brand ambassadors more responsibility means you recognise their contribution to your brand.
5. Do Your Part to Help
The world needs strong communities. When a brand has a following of customers and fan, they are afforded the opportunity to drum up awareness behind a cause. That doesn’t mean your brand has to stand for every cause it comes across. But contributing to one or two things that align with your brand values can be a powerful way to strengthen your ambassador marketing strategy and your brand community.
There are some wonderful initiatives where companies are doing their best to help fellow communities and friends in need. If your company is able to assist, then try and plug into an initiative or create one where you can help humanity in a meaningful way.
Stella Artois partnered with Matt Damon and Water.org to donate clean drinking water to those around the world. (Video Source)
Encourage your brand ambassadors to do the same by either joining your initiative or starting one of their own. This will show consumers and your brand representatives that your company genuinely does care about the livelihoods of its supporters.
Before you can know exactly how to best impact your brand ambassadors, you need to know your brand ambassadors. A strong ambassador marketing strategy requires you to pick the right people for the job.
Part of market research includes creating a customer persona - that is, a profile that describes your ideal customer. Creating a solid persona helps you better target this audience with your marketing efforts.
The same can be done for your brand ambassadors. By building a brand ambassador persona, you and your team will know who is the best fit to represent your brand. Partnering with ambassadors who don’t align with your brand can be a waste of time and money at best, and have a devastating impact on your brand at worst. So it’s important to have a clear vision of who you want to build meaningful ambassador relationships with.
To create your brand ambassador persona, we’ve built a guide to walk you through the process. This guide gives examples of effective ambassador personas and offers you a template to follow when creating your own. Download it for free now!