Employing a brand ambassador programme is one of the most underutilised yet most effective marketing techniques among marketers. Brand ambassador programmes involve appointing super-fans of the brand to advocate their products and are fundamentally word-of-mouth marketing amplified. They are mainly built on two core principles; brand affinity and mutual benefit. Fulfilling these two principles will ensure a healthy ambassador-brand relationship and will ultimately lead to a successful brand ambassador programme.
If you are still one of those who underestimates the power of brand ambassadors, do check out our previous article in this Brand Ambassador series. If you have already been convinced, we will discuss 9 ways to kick up your brand ambassador programme by a notch and maximise its full potential!
1. Understand Ambassadors’ Intentions and Expectations
First and foremost, understand your ambassadors’ intentions and expectations. Are they genuinely interested in being a part of the brand? Or are they in it only for the goodies? You wouldn’t want your ambassador to show great interest in the initial stages only to leave after he/she has collected a decent stash of free merchandise.
Also, if you are not planning to reward your ambassadors financially, make this clear to them from the outset. Understand their expectations and ensure that they can be met. Understanding your ambassador well is important in building a successful brand ambassador programme. As this is a long-term project, it is important to ensure that your ambassadors are invested in your brand and will stay for the long run.
2. Provide A Sense Of Exclusivity
Rather than monetary reimbursement, you should throw in perks like exclusive early access to the latest collections, special discounts on products and occasional freebies. These will not just be more profitable from the brand’s financial standpoint but also makes the ambassador feel like a part of a privileged, exclusive clique.
Exclusive gatherings and retreats for brand ambassadors should be organised once in a while to let the ambassadors mingle around, build friendships and share their experiences regarding the brand’s products. Apart from the sharing of content-creation ideas, ambassadors will get to feel extremely privileged to be a part of such exclusive events, which will motivate them to perform better as a brand ambassador.
In the case of bourbon manufacturer Maker Mark’s programme, ambassadors are given various perks from personalised business cards to invitations to VIP tasting events. They can even get their name engraved on an individual barrel of bourbon and visit it whenever they wish to!
3. Support Ambassadors’ Goals and Aspirations
Instead of centering the partnership solely on your brand’s image and products, you should also take the effort to support you ambassadors’ goals, be it gaining more followers or learning more about the industry. You could publicise their social media accounts on your various platforms or display pictures of them on your website and social media accounts.
With the contacts that your company probably has, it would be extremely rewarding to host private networking events where your ambassadors could meet industry-related professionals to learn and hone their skills in the respective fields.
4. Recognise Achievements
Although it may seem very trivial to a brand, it means a lot to an ambassador to have the brand take note of and congratulate any achievements or milestones, no matter how small they may seem. Reaching 50,000 followers may seem quite insignificant in comparison to the millions of followers some celebrities may have, but it could be seen as a remarkable feat in the eyes of the ambassador. A small shout out would go a long way in making the ambassador feel recognised.
5. Provide Avenues To Resolve Problems
Well, you don’t exactly have to provide a one-to-one consultancy service or maintain a 24/7 call centre to resolve any issues. Instead, you could just provide avenues for your ambassadors to help one another rectify their problems. More experienced ambassadors may have faced certain problems in the past that they can share with newer ambassadors.
Apart from the aforementioned occasional networking events, you could set up an online forum or discussion group where your ambassadors can interact with one another and share their experiences advocating your brand’s products. It can also be a way for you to communicate with your ambassadors or to convey certain key messages.
6. Be Open to Suggestions
While the ultimate purpose of a brand ambassador programme is to spread word about your brand, you should harness the relationship ambassadors have with their followers to obtain feedback regarding your products. Apart from having connections with consumers, ambassadors are also consumers themselves, and can hence be an excellent source of feedback to allow for constant improvement of the brands’ product offerings.
In the case of Microsoft, a weeklong summit is held annually at their headquarters for their MVPs. (It’s what they call their ambassadors.) Along with making connections, learning more from experts, MVPs get to give their feedback directly to the company’s executives and product teams to help refine the product range.
7. Tiered Reward System
As you scale your programme further, you will realise that different ambassadors have different levels of performance due to varying levels of fame or advocacy methods. A tiered rewards system ensures that your best ambassadors will keep up their performances and others are incentivised to perform better. This will ensure that all your ambassadors remain both satisfied and motivated.
8. Give Your Employees A Try
Employees are an untapped marketing resource that many companies tend to overlook. They know the inner workings of the company and if treated well, they would definitely be willing to spread word about the brand’s products. After all, their lives already basically revolve around the brand. Just be sure to ensure that they fulfill their day-to-day corporate responsibilities! (They are first and foremost employees of the company.)
Deloitte, a professional services network, saw great increase in traffic to their page with over 50% coming from employees’ social media channels after they set up an ambassador program. In fact, one employee’s post transformed into an engagement for the firm and generated enough revenue to cover all costs of the program till then!
9. Start Small, Scale Up
Instead of implementing Brand Ambassador Programmes on a massive scale at once, you could always start small with just a few influencers. Other than being easier to manage, this lets you troubleshoot problems or issues more easily on a smaller scale before you adopt the programme on a larger one.
Furthermore, choosing only a small number of ambassadors affords a feeling of prestige and exclusivity. Those who are in the ambassador programme would feel valued and those who are not would want to be a part of it.
Do let us know how your brand ambassador programmes go and whether these tips were useful!
Do check out the previous article 7 Reasons To Have A Brand Ambassador Programme if you haven’t already done so!