A brand ambassador or brand champion is like a marketing ninja: subtle and enigmatic, moving within your target customer base inconspicuously but constantly working in your favour. When used effectively, brand ambassadors can be one of the most valuable and profitable parts of your brand strategy, connecting you with new fans, going to bat in your favour and opening lucrative new revenue streams.
Frequently, their recommendation is as effective as a referral from a trusted friend. In a study on brand ambassadors’ social media presence, 31% of social media users said a brand ambassador’s post had persuaded them to make a purchase1. Their reach has a grassroots-like effect, too; 24% of respondents in the same survey said they had made recommendations to others based on influencer posts.
5 Brand Ambassador Strategies to Grow Your Brand And Increase Sales
In this post, we’ll discuss five tactics for using brand ambassadors to strengthen your brand, further your brand strategy and open new revenue streams.
1. Use Brand Ambassadors To Reinforce Your Brand Essence, Personality and Message
Your brand essence or DNA is the fundamental nature of your brand. It’s your brand’s heart and soul–what makes it distinct, gives it meaning in the minds of your ideal customers and sets it apart from the rest. Brand ambassadors are a real-world extension of your brand and can be used very effectively to communicate and reinforce your brand message.
A case study in using brand ambassadors as a living, breathing representation of the brand is women’s swimwear and lifestyle line Bikini Luxe. The company’s essence goes much deeper than pretty bathing suits; its brand DNA lies in turning fashion into a positive lifestyle choice2.
The company works with a network of ambassadors who contribute positive, female-empowering images that capture the brand essence on social media while simultaneously promoting their line of sustainable apparel. Which brings us to a key bottom-line benefit of working with brand ambassadors: it’s a low-cost way to reach thousands or even millions of new customers. According to Bikini Luxe, the brand has used brand ambassadors to secure traditionally costly collaborations for only the cost of a free product3, and influencers have become a primary channel for driving revenue.
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2. Leverage People Who Already Know And Love Your Brand to Become Great Brand Ambassadors
Some of your most effective brand ambassadors are right under your nose: your happy customers. Not only are they familiar with your brand personality, chances are they also know and embrace your brand mission, which is one of the most powerful profit-driving brand components. Chances are these people are already working for your brand by spreading positive recommendations to family and friends; leverage them in a strategic way by turning them into brand ambassadors.
Athletic retailer Lululemon is a standout example of using satisfied customers as ambassadors for the brand. The company has carefully crafted a Lululemon lifestyle which encourages wearers that a healthy life is a happy one; it’s a belief system lived each day by a tribe of loyal ambassadors (who, of course, regularly sport the company’s clothing and recommend it to others)4.
One of Lululemon’s strongest ambassador groups, though, is on the opposite side of the cash register: its employees. Through mediums like online videos, in-person events and social media posts, team members act as brand ambassadors to show real women the fit and functionality of various products as well as how to style them for various sports and activities.
This works because it mirrors a personal referral, which is the number one type of referral in terms of purchasing payoff. A whopping 83% of people say they take action after receiving a positive referral at least some of the time5.
3. Establish And Build A Long-term Relationship By Treating Brand Ambassadors Like Royalty
An effective brand ambassador relationship isn’t a one-time transaction. It should be a long-lasting or even a lifelong one. To make it so, focus first on bringing value to the ambassador rather than extracting value from them. It’s an interesting concept that, when practised, can actually result in greater long-term gains on your behalf. Gary Vaynerchuk delves into the “give, give, give, then ask” philosophy here:
Review platform Yelp puts the “give more than you receive” philosophy into practice with its ‘Elite’ users, an exclusive group of Yelpers that are heavily involved and act as champions for the platform. Yelp regularly treats Elite users to lavish events like galas and private dining experiences that aren’t open to the general public, which keeps the highly engaged group coming back year after year6. This, in turn, has a ripple effect, as regular users see the benefits of being an Elite user and strive to achieve the same status. You guessed it–that means engagement on the platform stays high and longtime users remain loyal.
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4. Choose Brand Ambassadors That Are A Natural Fit For Your Brand
Simply having brand ambassadors isn’t enough; choosing and working with the right brand ambassadors is key. It’s an important part of your brand strategy that, like other aspects of your branding, should be planned thoughtfully and executed with intention.
For maximum impact, choose brand ambassadors who are a natural extension of your brand personality, personifying the characteristics, ideals and beliefs you uphold as a company. This is what resonates with customers and helps turn them into repeat buyers.
Not all brand ambassadors are celebrities. In fact, just because someone is publicly known does not mean that having them endorse your brand will drive profits. If it’s not the right fit, the campaign will feel disingenuous. However, a celebrity who meets the right criteria can make a highly effective ambassador. One such example is American football star Rob Gronkowski for Oberto Beef Jerky7.
Gronkowski is a natural fit because he shares the brand’s key personality traits: fun, quirky and never too serious. The brand uses Gronkowski to communicate these traits in a series of lighthearted videos (fast forward to 1:22 for some epic dance moves). While Gronkowski–and, in turn, the brand–comes off as likeable and goofy, it’s easy to see how the wrong ambassador used in the role could easily fall flat.
Choosing an ambassador who’s well known in his or her niche while also being complementary to your brand can bring new and highly-targeted customers your way.
5. Set Goals And Measure Them To Get The Best Return on Your Brand Ambassador Strategy
As we touched on above, brand ambassadors aren’t just nice to have, leveraged effectively they can be a profitable and very cost-effective marketing channel. But, like any other aspect of your branding, their impact must be carefully tracked, measured and improved over time to ensure return on your investment.
Hallmark and Walgreens demonstrate how to track and quantify the results of working with brand ambassadors with their #HallmarkAtWallgreens campaign. During the 2016 campaign, the companies partnered together with a group of ambassadors to capture sentimental moments spent shopping for Hallmark products at the drugstore chain.
They tracked and measured the results of the campaign in three key areas: content production (social posts, shares, etc.), layered syndication (reach and engagement across various networks) and social activation (brand mentions, campaign participation, etc.). In total, the campaign resulted in a more than 500 percent increase in brand mentions and a content value of over $100K without any additional budget spent on marketing. You can view the full breakdown of the #HallmarkAtWalgreens ambassador campaign results here.
As we’ve demonstrated, brand ambassadors can take many forms, from celebrities to employees to satisfied customers. The common thread among them is that when used strategically, they can be a powerful driver of revenue and positive referrals for your brand. To maximize brand ambassador effectiveness, strive for long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships that can be measured and quantified.
If you prefer a done-for-you approach to analyzing and strengthening your brand, a brand audit from Persona Design may be in order. This strategic analysis will give you valuable insights into your brand’s performance and position within the marketplace while identifying areas for improvement and innovation. Contact us today at +353 1 8322724 (GMT 9:00 – 17:00) or [email protected] to learn more.
Questions To Consider
- Are you using brand ambassadors in a way that aligns with your brand strategy and drives revenue?
- Think about some of the segments of people that already know and love your brand, like employees and top customers. How can you activate them as brand ambassadors?
- What are your brand’s key personality traits? Who are some well-known individuals that also capture these traits?
- How might you reward brand ambassadors for their loyal support? Discounts? Exclusive perks? Something else?
- What are the most important indicators of success you’re hoping to achieve by working with brand ambassadors? How will you measure and track these performance indicators?