Understanding The Value of A Brand Ambassador
With the development of new technologies and the growing expectation for transparency, today’s consumers have access to more information than ever before. With all this data, buyers are getting smarter and more aware of traditional advertising practices. It’s no longer enough for organizations to present themselves as the best in the market or share their competitive advantage—they need social proof. Personal testimonies from authentic users will often resonate better with potential customers than promotions directly from the brand, with 84% of consumers saying they trust peer recommendations above all other sources of advertising.
This word-of-mouth marketing strategy can leverage brand ambassadors, and is often used for retail, CPG, or apparel brands, but can also be used to promote software, travel, or even experiences.
What Is a Brand Ambassador?
A brand ambassador is a person who represents a brand, product, or company with the goal of increasing awareness and driving sales. Brand ambassadors can be paid social media influencers, internal employees, or simply a user who chooses to advocate for the brand. Regardless of who a brand ambassador is, they must be positioned as a peer or someone who is seen as trustworthy.
In a world where connections are facilitated virtually, peers no longer refer to those we know in person but can include people we know or follow online, including influencers or industry leaders.
With influencer marketing on the continuous rise (the industry is expected to reach over $16 billion in 2022), it’s important for brands—especially CPG and retail brands—to understand brand ambassadorship and how they can best leverage this strategy to reach new customers.
What Is The Value of a Brand Ambassador for Marketing Teams?
While in-house marketing teams can focus on traditional advertising efforts, brand ambassadors can use their online presence to deliver an honest, third-party perspective to their followers and potential customers. This could be through a product review on Instagram, a livestream of a sponsored event, or simply creating an online community of like-minded people to share a lifestyle represented by a certain brand.
Including this type of ambassador marketing as part of an overall strategy can help organizations broaden their brand awareness, protect their reputation, and ultimately increase sales.
What Are The Qualities of A Good Brand Ambassador?
For marketing teams interested in utilizing brand ambassadors for referral marketing, there are several qualities to look for in potential candidates.
- Authenticity: Olapic, a user-generated content platform, found that 76 percent of consumers believe the content that average people share is more honest than advertising from brands. An influencer who is honest, relatable, and trustworthy can help brands draw in new customers. To ensure you’re partnering with the right ambassador, consider speaking to him or her voice-to-voice or, even better, in-person—rather than only communicating over email or social media. A casual “interview,” particularly for a large and expensive ambassador program or influencer campaign, should be an integral part of your process before making decisions that could affect your brand image.
- Robust Online Presence: For brand ambassadors to be successful in securing brand awareness, they need to reach as many people as possible. Doing so typically requires a solid social media presence, including having many followers across various channels, whether that’s TikTok, Instagram, or LinkedIn. If launching a full-fledged influencer program is not feasible, brands can consider leveraging micro-influencers—or social media users with 1,000 to 100,000 followers—to reach a smaller and perhaps more engaged audience.
- Reflects The Culture and Values of The Brand: When choosing potential ambassadors, it’s essential to opt for someone who can naturally become the face of the brand. Brands want someone who can genuinely advocate for their product not only because they believe in it but also because they live a lifestyle that amplifies the brand as a whole. Ideally, your ambassador will also be your target consumer, one who is familiar with your products and uses them regularly. Often, this is how an influencer program begins: A loyal customer contacts the brand and requests compensation in return for partner posts. Tread carefully when this opportunity arises, however: low-balling or negotiating to only pay in product instead of cash could result in a lost customer—and a social media fire that will require time and energy to put out.
- Knowledge of Marketing Strategy: While it’s certainly not required for brand ambassadors to be professional marketers, it can be helpful for them to have an understanding of basic marketing principles, including the roles that digital marketing and social media play in an overall strategy. Ambassadors that also have more technical expertise, such as experience in social advertising, are a big plus, since they can be trusted to launch co-branded campaigns from their own accounts with little to no assistance from your marketing team.
4 Examples of Successful Brand Ambassador Programs
When it comes to user-generated content and brand ambassadors programs, some brands have positioned themselves as stand-outs among CPG and retail brands.
1. Red Bull
Red Bull’s brand ambassador program took a unique approach to ambassador marketing by using college students—called Student Marketeers—as their community influencers. By having ambassadors host events on college campuses, Red Bull was able to position its brand as more than just energy drinks, but as a lifestyle of excitement and adventure. Red Bull has been so successful with its brand advocacy through social media, endorsed athletes, and sponsored events, that most consumers associate the brand just as much with a certain lifestyle as they do with an energy drink that gives you wings.
Yoga brand Lululemon is widely recognized for creating the “athleisure” line of clothing, but they are also known for their grass-roots brand ambassador program. Instead of using a celebrity spokesperson to advocate for and promote its brand, Lululemon has created a global community of leaders, including local yoga instructors, social media influencers, and athletes. These ambassadors promote a community of like-minded individuals who reflect the culture and values of Lululemon’s brand of health and wellness.
3. Maker’s Mark
Maker’s Mark’s brand ambassador program excels in customer retention and word-of-mouth marketing. Ambassadors receive various perks like access to events and holiday gifts in exchange for sharing their preference for the famous Kentucky Bourbon brand with friends and family. Maker’s Mark Ambassadors also get the distinction of having their name put on a barrel of whiskey, which can be purchased when it’s ready in six-seven years—creating a near-perfect strategy for long-term customer engagement.
Coca-Cola employs a different approach to its brand ambassador program: instead of hiring social media influencers, they rely on employee advocacy and ambassadors from within. By leveraging their existing employee loyalty, Coca-Cola was able to instantly create ambassadors from their 700,000 global employees. This is an excellent example of using internal resources to create a meaningful campaign that resonates with Coca-Cola lovers everywhere.
Discover The Benefits of Using A Brand Ambassador
Brand ambassadors contribute an authentic, human element to brand management, expanding reach and developing trust between brands and consumers. For a brand ambassador program to be successful, brands and their marketing teams must first truly believe in and advocate for their product or service. By creating a product or solution that delivers unmatched value to consumers, users and ambassadors should organically believe in it and want to promote it. From there, it’s a win-win solution that nurtures trust, community, and growth.
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