What is a Brand Ambassador?
A brand ambassador is someone who embodies the brand he/she is endorsing, providing the brand with credible promotion and visibility.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
While every small business owner would love to find several brand ambassadors underneath their Christmas tree this holiday, it’s unfortunately not that easy.
Brand Ambassadors, also called evangelists, don’t always just show up on your doorstep and begin shouting your praises, yet, they are all around you – may be even closer than you think. With a little work, some investment in time, and patience, you can cultivate your own enthusiastic champions for your organization.
Having brand ambassadors are a fantastic way of communicating the passion about your brand. This passion can’t be bought, sold, or dictated – it comes organically from the person who is endorsing you. Because of this, an authentic brand evangelist is more effective than paid ads, company-sponsored blogs, and social media business pages.
So Who Can Be a Brand Ambassador?
There are three basic groups of people that can represent your ambassadors. Below, we’ll take a look at each one, examine how to identify them, and discuss how to empower them to become effective and successful brand ambassadors for your business.
1. Owner/Senior Management as Brand Ambassadors
If you are a small business owner, you may not have any other members of senior management in your company. Regardless, any owner or senior manager should be, by default, a brand ambassador for their business.
Whether you’re at a seminar, conference, or business meeting, people expect you to deliver a polished pitch when inquired about your business. Can you? Fumbling your words when describing your business won’t get you taken as seriously as someone who can speak effortlessly and enthusiastically about their business. After all, if you don’t appear excited about your company, why should anyone else?
Identifying Key Brand Ambassadors
Just because someone is an owner or a senior manager doesn’t make them automatic brand ambassador material. Much of it comes down to the individual’s area of influence within their community, their level of sincerity, and how genuine their passion for the business is.
How to Empower
At this level, the message must be clear, concise, and delivered well. If it’s just you, practice in front of a mirror, a spouse, or an associate. If it’s several members of upper management, consider professional classes. Make sure each brand ambassador knows and understands the power of effective communication without overselling.
As members of your upper management team show promise, invite them to accompany you to tradeshows/conventions, mixers, and other events. Observe how they speak in their own voice and use their energy and passion to become successful evangelists for your business - providing helpful, objective feedback whenever possible.
2. Employees as Brand Ambassadors
Not only are employees your most valuable assets, but potential customers will view them as a more credible source than owners or senior managers - as they are viewed as being closer to the "front line".
Employees have their own networks, both online and offline. Finding creative ways to tap into those networks can give your business an authentic boost in awareness and visibility.
Turning employees into brand ambassadors can be nerve-wracking at times. It might feel like a leap of faith turning an employee loose to speak about your products or services, but then again, you hired them for a reason right? So why not let them share why they love what they do and whom they do it with?!
The obvious way to make sure employees are saying good things about your business is to treat them right and have solid business practices in place that all employees can believe in. And if you take the time to properly identify the prospective brand ambassadors and empower them, the chances of something going wrong are greatly reduced.
Identifying Key Brand Ambassadors
Look for enthusiastic, motivated employees who truly care about the success of your organization.
It's also important to ensure the employee has solid grammar skills and can clearly communicate his/her ideas (written or verbally). Even the best of intentions can backfire if misinterpreted by the reader/listener.
3. Customers as Brand Ambassadors
When current customers talk to potential customers, people listen. It’s just like when you tell your neighbor about your new barbecue grill. Since you don’t have a stake in the company and have no reason to falsely hype the product, your review will hold much more weight than a company spokesperson.
Testimonials can make or break brands. Look at movie companies that spend millions of dollars on advertisements for the film’s opening weekend, only to have the movie flop after the first weekend because of negative word of mouth.
In this digital age, a text or status update can potentially sway thousands of minds.
You may already have countless customers who would be willing evangelists. You just have to identify the right ones and empower them.
Identifying Key Brand Ambassadors in Your Clients or Customers
It’s sometimes easier to find potential brand ambassadors within your customer base than it is your own employees. If you monitor your brand online, you can pinpoint enthusiastic customers that you may have never been aware of.
Follow and engage with them through their blogs and social media circles to find out the extent of their influence and build a rapport. Look for ways to collaborate to mutually benefit them as well as your organization.
Not all potential brand ambassadors are online, however, and yet, they can still have major influence over those interested in engaging with you.
Examples of these "offline" influencers are bartenders, waiters, hairstylists, and others who talk to lots of people each day but do it in person.
Think of these types of people around you and how you can connect with them. Even if they aren’t your customer (yet), they may benefit from your product or service or at least begin to include you in conversations you may never have been a part of otherwise.
How to Empower
The first part of this answer is easy to say, but harder to implement. Having great products and excellent customer service will produce evangelists. People love positive experiences and will talk about them, almost as much as they love to talk about negative experiences. Create a wonderful experience for your customers and they’ll tell their friends, family, and neighbors.
Continue to devise ways to keep your brand in your client's and customer's thoughts. Perhaps you can invite them occasionally to your place of business to sample the latest product.
If you have special news to announce, allow these influential customers to broadcast it to their social network first.
Better yet, if one of your enthusiastic customers is a fellow business owner or manager, offer some samples that they can give away to interested prospects or to include in a joint promotion with their customers.
Build Your Tribe!
Now that you know where to look and how to cultivate loyal brand ambassadors, what steps do you take to empower these people to become evangelists for your service or product?
If you already are lucky to have brand ambassadors, we'd love to hear what type of success have you had with them!
Thank you for reading and have a great weekend!