Why you need brand ambassadors & how to find them

8th Apr 2019

Your customers could be some of your biggest marketing assets. Word of mouth is powerful and people like to buy from other customers’ experiences. In this article, Hannah Brice, Managing Director, www.Upmarketry.com explains why brand ambassadors can offer the perfect vehicle to getting your product or service noticed by an ever-widening audience.

What is a brand ambassador?

Wikipedia claims that a brand ambassador is “a person who is hired by an organisation or company to represent a brand in a positive light and by doing so help to increase brand awareness and sales”.

In the same way that large companies hire famous actors or models to ‘represent’ their brand, a startup can hire a team of effective brand ambassadors from its own customer base. The most important requirement of the brand ambassador is that they are credible and genuinely like what your business sells.

How can you use a brand ambassador?

It’s all very well telling everyone that you’re the best, but it makes a huge difference if other people are saying it too. And with such a wide number of customer touch points available today, there are numerous ways to put brand ambassadors to good use including social media, forums, reviews, customer service, referral campaigns and PR case studies.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the uses of a brand ambassador:

1. Promoting what you do to their friends, colleagues and family via social media and word of mouth.

2. Being involved as a PR case study, talking to the media about the impact your product or service had on their life or their business.

3. Providing a customer testimonial for use on your website and in sales collateral.

4. Increasing positive engagements on your social media channels or website by posting reviews.

5. Joining discussions on forums and social media about what you do and mentioning your brand in a positive light.

6. Helping new customers with advice based on their own experience, thereby acting as an unofficial customer service support member.

Whilst these customer interactions are a very powerful marketing tool, it’s important to adhere to advertising regulations by ensuring that brand ambassadors clearly disclose their link to your business i.e. if they are receiving any payment, gift or reward for talking about you.

So how do you find brand ambassadors?

Even as a brand new business you can easily build up a pool of people to consider as a brand ambassador but how you approach them is different for a B2B and B2C company.

B2B companies

If your customers are businesses, it may be the case that you only work with four to five at a time and within each there’s likely to be a number of contacts you deal with. Any of them could be a brand ambassador contact.

Also consider ex-clients; including companies as well as contacts that moved onto a different business. They may not use your products/services anymore but that doesn’t mean that they don’t still have a lot of respect for what you do.

Look at partners, suppliers and other companies that you work with. While they can’t endorse you as a customer, they can still talk about the impressive work they’ve witnessed you deliver. Often, an endorsement from a brand people recognise is more impactful than one from a small company they’ve never heard of.

Making an approach

1. Contact these individuals on the platform that you usually communicate with them on.

2. Consider what would be acceptable compensation for their time. For example, could you return the favour to them? It’s best to have some ideas ready before you reach out to them.

3. Don’t be vague in your request for their help. Be specific on what you’d like them to do whether that’s to speak to the media about your service, provide a testimonial for your website, retweet or share some of your social media content etc. The easier you can make it for them to say yes, the more likely they will.

4. If you need to reconnect with old contacts before making your approach, then spend some time relationship-rebuilding before asking them a favour.

B2C companies

For a consumer audience, you may have a large pool of brand ambassador candidates to choose from - your customers and potential customers. There are also a wide variety of tools to attract them. 

  1. Use your email list.

If you have a mailing list for your blog, sales announcements or other news, then within your next email you could include some opt-ins for brand ambassadors. These would include:

  • A request asking people if they’d be willing to join a VIP group to help your business’s community
  • Share buttons – so that they can easily share your content with their friends/peers

2. Use your sales process.

Once your customers have bought something from you, give them an option to share the news on social media via the Thank You For Your Order page. 

You can also add in referral links and voucher codes to your Thank You For Your Order emails that they can forward on to others to use.

  1. Social media

The good news is that everyone following you on social media is doing so because they are interested in your business. It’s an incredible resource for engaging new brand ambassadors. 

As with the email list point above, you could post that you are looking for people to join a VIP group to help the company. You can then delegate tasks such as customer support, referral marketing and other promotional tasks.

Do your due diligence

When working efficiently, brand ambassadors are a cost effective way of creating positive engagements for your brand leading to an increase in customers and revenue. However, there is also an element of risk involved in using customers to represent or promote your business. It’s important to do a thorough check of the individual before you appoint them as a brand ambassador, particularly to check if they have unpopular views which go against the ethos of your brand, or if their conduct on social media is ever offensive.

It’s also important to set ground rules on conduct and make your expectations known from the outset. In a majority of cases, you can request to see posts or testimonials before they are made public. However, this is only to check for anything that may undo your brand’s messaging. The post must remain in their words and style to ensure credibility and promote your brand to the widest possible audience.

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