Think back to the last time you purchased a product based on the opinion of a friend or family member. Did you put much thought into the purchase? Or did you feel like it was a pretty safe bet based on the glowing review of your best friend, mom, sister, etc.?
Most people will make a purchasing decision faster and easier when it comes with a solid recommendation from someone they know. In fact, 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations over other forms of advertising. Now, you don’t have control over recommendations from friends and family, but there is an easy way to reach your customer with a message just as strong as a recommendation from a friend or family member. We’re talking about brand ambassador marketing.
What is a Brand Ambassador?
A brand ambassador is a person who consistently promotes a brand to their networks in order to reach new customers, increase brand awareness and boost sales. You may be thinking, “Oh, okay a brand ambassador is one of those influencers I see all over TikTok.” Well, that’s not entirely true. There is a bit of overlap, but there are still some very important differences between a brand ambassador, an influencer, and an affiliate marketer.
Any Gen Z’er can tell you all about influencers. They are easily recognized on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube promoting brands – usually several at a time. This is the main difference between a brand ambassador and an influencer. A brand ambassador is going to completely and exclusively embody the one brand they represent – from their appearance to the alignment of their belief systems. So yes, a brand ambassador can be an influencer, but your typical influencer can’t successfully advocate for your brand when they are also promoting many others at the same time. Quality vs. quantity matters.
What about a brand ambassador vs. affiliate? Affiliate marketers will also align with your brand just as a brand ambassador would; however, affiliates exclusively promote brands online so sales can be tracked via links embedded in content so they can be paid for their efforts on commission. Brand ambassadors are free to promote online, but they also promote in person at trade shows, networking groups, store events, and in their daily life. The payment structure for a brand ambassador can vary, but is usually by employment salary, product trade, or other earned rewards. In summary, the main goal of an affiliate is to generate sales (and resulting commissions), while a brand ambassador’s goal is to build a trusting relationship with your audience to drive sales.
What is Ambassador Marketing?
Ambassador marketing can be one of the strongest and least expensive marketing tactics you can employ to get the word out about your brand. Ambassadors build trust and strengthen your company’s reputation while building a brand community of loyal customers. They enthusiastically and authentically market through top customers rather than to them. For example, Lululemon uses fitness experts in their brand ambassador strategy. These experts host training classes in stores across the country, gain an intimate knowledge of Lululemon products, show them in action, and create a brand image that aligns with the fitness community. Ambassadors build relationships with the customer base and establish themselves as a trusted source of information within the community. And it works! Lululemon’s annual revenues have increased every year since 2008.
5 Benefits of Brand Ambassador Marketing
There are many benefits to using brand ambassadors as part of your marketing strategy.
- 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations.
- Consumers are more likely to purchase a product after a peer has shared it to social media.
- Brand ambassadors are perceived as more authentic.
- Utilizing brand ambassadors helps control costs.
- Ambassadors save your marketing team time and money.
How to Select/Work with Brand Ambassadors?
Selecting your brand ambassadors should be done carefully; after all, they will be partially responsible for the reputation and perception of your brand. Happy customers and loyal employees make the best brand ambassadors. Look for potential brand ambassadors with an active online presence, strong leadership skills, marketing knowledge, and someone who is relationship driven.
Steps for selecting a brand ambassador:
- Search your brand online and see who is already singing your praises to an established community of followers. Are they already engaging with your content? Are they authentic and professional? Do you have a personable, social media maven on your staff? They might also be a good option!
- Approach potential ambassadors with a plan in place. This plan should include your expectations around frequency of posting online, the image you want to convey and how they will be compensated for their efforts.
- Provide assets for your ambassadors to use such as images, hashtags, logos, etc. And make sure to let them know what NOT to use.
- Track their progress and praise their successes. Are they posting regularly? Is there engagement on their posts? Does it seem like their content is resonating with your ideal customer? Keep in mind that you may need to provide additional guidance, or end relationships if things don’t go as planned.
Brand ambassador marketing is a growing strategy across all industries. People simply trust their peers for brand recommendations over traditional advertising methods. 79% of consumers say that user generated content, like brand ambassador marketing, highly impacts their purchasing decisions. Utilizing brand ambassadors is low cost and delivers high rewards making it a win-win marketing strategy.
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