More and more brands are turning to ambassador marketing to boost their business and connect with their audience.
But what are brand ambassadors? And how can you create a winning brand ambassadorship program?
In this article, we’ll define what brand ambassadors are, highlight ways they can grow your business, and share an effective strategy you can use to execute successful ambassador marketing.
What’s a brand ambassador?
A brand ambassador is someone who loves a brand and promotes their products or services to their network.
Brand ambassadors include a variety of people. They can be recognizable, famous people, such as celebrities or influencers. These types of brand ambassadors typically have a transactional relationship with brands, meaning they’re paid, or gifted products or services, to represent them.
Brand ambassadors can also be people who simply love the brands they represent, such as a loyal customer, diehard fans, or employees. These types of brand ambassadors are likely unpaid, but they’re happy to spread the word about the brands to their network.
To refer others to the brands they represent, brand ambassadors utilize a word-of-mouth strategy. They’ll recommend and communicate about the brand to their friends, family, or network in, for instance, day-to-day conversations or through social media. This can drive brand awareness and sales.
But why should you start integrating ambassador marketing into your marketing strategy?
Why should you use brand ambassador marketing?
Ambassador marketing is a great way for you to build relationships with people who already love your brand. It also helps you connect with an audience in a genuine way.
As more and more consumers become skeptical about traditional advertising, it’s becoming a less effective tactic to reach an audience with their message.
That’s where brand ambassadors come in.
Because they’re already huge fans of the brands they represent, their endorsements bring them credibility. What they share about the brand will resonate better with potential consumers because they’re genuine experiences.
Plus, they have established relationships with their friends, family, and followers, so their recommendations are more likely to be trusted.
Lastly, brand ambassadors are here for the long haul. They’re lifelong customers who love the brands they represent, and they’re invested in their success. Most of them may already promote their products or services – without any prompting.
Because of their dedication, most brands choose to invest in long-term partnerships with them, and it’s an effective strategy. Here are a couple reasons why:
- When brand ambassadors post about your brand on a regular basis, their friends, family, and followers will perceive their partnerships and recommendations as sincere.
- They’ll have a steady stream of content and testimonials to share on ads, social media, or their website.
- They’ll have a constant flow of activity and engagement created around their brand.
- They’ll keep their brand top-of-mind by frequently targeting the same audience with their branded message.
- They’ll save time from explaining new collaboration details and negotiating compensation, which they would need to do with, for instance, new influencers they onboard for one-off campaigns.
There are many reasons for partnering up with brand ambassadors, but you’ll need to ensure you work with the right ones to truly benefit.
Because they’re working an extension of your brand, you need to ensure that they’re representing you well. Any personal troubles they get into can hurt your brand’s reputation. For example, Subway’s long-term brand ambassador Jared Fogle had legal troubles. This led to a storm of negative PR, which resulted in Subway suspending their relationship and distancing themselves from him.
The brand ambassadors you choose to collaborate with should be vetted carefully. Be sure they understand what their responsibilities are when it comes to representing your brand. By providing them with clear rules and do’s and don’ts to guide them, you’ll avoid any mishaps!
Types of brand ambassador programs
Ready to start working with brand ambassadors?
There are several different programs you can consider setting up. Here are 4 of the most common types:
Influencer brand ambassador program
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With this type of program, you work with influencers, who would be brand ambassadors for your brand.
To collaborate, the influencers will publish custom sponsored content regularly about your brand for a specified period of time. In exchange, they’re usually paid and/or gifted products for their promotions.
You’ll likely have a formalized agreement in place with guidelines they’ll need to follow, which results in more structured collaborations than other brand ambassadorship programs. You can also retain a level of control over what’s shared about your brand with the influencers’ audience.
An added benefit of influencer brand ambassadorship programs is that you can target specific audiences with your message. By looking at the influencers’ audience demographics, you can choose to work with influencers who have followers in a relevant location or age range.
Affiliate brand ambassador program
The second type of brand ambassador program utilizes affiliate marketers. In this program, both you and the affiliate marketers benefit from the collaboration. You would partner up with someone, who is often a blogger or influencer, to advertise your products or services. They may promote your brand by sharing banners or links on their websites.
In return, the affiliate marketers will receive a commission whenever someone makes a purchase through their promotion. The sales they make are tracked through affiliate links.
This program is a great way to boost sales, and you only need to prepare a budget to pay the affiliates when they make a sale.
Informal brand ambassador program
Unlike the other brand ambassador programs, informal brand ambassadors can be anyone who loves your brand.
With this program, there’s no formal agreements in place, and typically no payments are made to them for their promotions. Informal ambassadors simply share your products or services with their friends and family because they’re loyal customers who are enthusiastic about your brand!
College brand ambassador program
College ambassadors are students who promote your brand and its products and services to their fellow students.
They may sponsor your brand on or off campus by handing out free branded swag or samples of your products or services, putting up branded posters, arranging booths at fairs, hosting promotional events, or posting on social media.
College ambassadors are great for brands who have a target demographic that includes students in university. They’re mostly in the 18-25 year old range.
If your target audience falls outside this range, this might not be the ideal brand ambassadorship program for you.
Brand ambassador marketing strategy
Now you know the 4 different types of brand ambassadorship programs. But how do you kickstart your own program to grow your brand?
Here’s a comprehensive guide to get you started:
Step 1: Outline your brand ambassadorship goals & objectives
What are you aiming to achieve with ambassador marketing?
The key to any successful brand ambassadorship is having clear goals and objectives you want to accomplish. They should align with the overall goals of your brand. 3 common goals include brand awareness, content creation, and conversions.
Step 2: Select your brand ambassadorship program
Let’s go back to the 4 types of ambassadorship programs. You can choose to work with influencers, affiliate marketers, informal ambassadors, or college ambassadors.
All these programs have different requirements to set them up and offer a variety of benefits. You should weigh the options and pick one that suits your goals, budget, and resources.
Step 3: Find your brand ambassadors
It’s time to start finding brand ambassadors to represent your brand!
You’ll need to review several factors to identify potential brand ambassadors who are true fans of your brand. Here a 5 important characteristics to look out for:
- Have a high level of professionalism
The brand ambassadors you choose will be representing you and act as an extension of your brand.
They’ll be talking about your brand and recommending your products or services to others. What they share can affect how their friends, family, or network perceive your brand.
The brand ambassadors you select need to understand the responsibility that comes along with the ambassadorship. They should be professional in their communications, respect any guidelines you have in place, and commit to working with you to achieve your goals.
- Have a passion for your brand
Great brand ambassadors not only love your products or services – they’re also passionate about your brand, values, and mission. They’ll be able to authentically endorse your brand.
To find ambassadors who are genuinely excited to partner with your brand, look at your social media, forums, or review sites to check who has tagged or mentioned you, used your branded hashtags, consistently engaged with your posts, or written positive reviews.
- Are relevant to your brand
The brand ambassadors you collaborate with should have interests that align with your brand.
For instance, if you’re an outdoor brand, you should look for brand ambassadors who relate to the outdoor industry in some way. They can be hikers or climbers. Pairing up with someone who doesn’t enjoy the outdoors would be an obvious mismatch, and which would be perceived as inauthentic.
Relevant ambassadors are also more likely to have an audience that’s well-aligned to your target audience.
- Are able to contribute to your goals
Brand ambassadors have a range of skills that can contribute to your overall goals and objectives. Be sure to evaluate how they can contribute in order for you to gain a positive ROI.
Take, for instance, the goal of creating content. You’ll want to choose brand ambassadors who are photographers or content creators to generate high-quality content.
- Have an understanding of marketing
Your brand ambassadors don’t need to have marketing degrees. But they should have a basic understanding of what their role entails, why you would want to collaborate with them, and how it impacts your brand.
Having a good grasp on this will help them become more effective in their role, as they’ll know what they need to do to help you achieve your goals.
Step 4: Reach out to brand ambassadors
Once you’ve created a list of potential brand ambassadors, you can start contacting them!
There are several ways you can begin your outreach. 2 of the most common methods are Instagram direct messages (DMs) and emails.
Instagram DMs are a casual, informal way to reach out to brand ambassadors. With this outreach method, you’ll have a 1,000 word limit, so be sure to keep your messages short and concise. DMs are also more likely to be read on mobile phones, so the shorter you can keep them, the better.
Emails are a more formal way of contacting potential brand ambassadors. You can usually find emails on their social media profiles. Unlike Instagram DMs, you don’t have a word limit, so you can add more information to the email to get them excited about the potential collaboration. But be sure to still keep them relatively short.
With emails, you’ll need to consider what subject lines to use. They should intrigue the ambassadors and pique their curiosity, without being too vague about what the emails are about. To find subject lines that work for you, try experimenting with different ones, and don’t be afraid to get creative!
Step 5: Launch your campaign
Once the brand ambassadors agree to collaborate with you, you’re ready to launch your campaign! You can send them a formal, comprehensive brief and contract to set any expectations.
This will help get you and your ambassadors get on the same page. They’ll be clear on what you want to achieve with the ambassadorship. It’ll also create a smoother collaboration process, since they’ll be able to reference the brief for any guidelines easily.
Your ambassadors will also understand what your goals are, so they can craft content that helps you achieve them.
Lastly, because you’ve outlined your goals in the brief, you’ll be able to evaluate how the ambassadors performed according to your objectives. This will help you determine whether you achieved a positive return on investment (ROI).
Learn more about what elements you should include in your brief in this guide.
Step 6: Motivate & empower your brand ambassadors
Ambassador marketing is a long game, so be sure to provide your brand ambassadors with resources to keep them motivated and empowered.
There are several things you can do to accomplish this:
- Give your ambassadors clear, specific briefs, guidelines, and requirements so they know what you’re looking for.
- Offer them VIP access to any events you put on or give them first access to new products or services.
- Be available or provide them with a support channel so their questions can be answered promptly.
- Send them free products to keep them excited and get them to continue posting about your brand.
Step 7: Measure your results
Be sure to track the results of your ambassadorship program! Check the quality of the content your brand ambassadors are sharing, how much engagement they’re getting, how many sales they’re making, and more.
By keeping a close eye on your results, you can determine what’s working and what’s not. This allows you to optimize your ambassadorship program.
You’ll be able to evaluate which ambassadors are contributing the most to your goals. You’ll also be able to identify who isn’t working, so you can test new ambassadors to ensure you’re getting the best results!
There are many reasons for implementing ambassador marketing in your marketing strategy. Brand ambassadors believe in your brand, and their endorsements of your products and services are genuine.
They’ll use word-of-mouth to get your brand on their friends, family, and networks’ radar. They’ll also help you build trusting relationships with your target audience.
The key to successful brand ambassadorships is to select the right program for your brand, have an effective strategy in place, and empower the brand ambassadors you choose to represent you.
If you’re able to accomplish this, you’ll reap the benefits of ambassador marketing!