Want to learn more about how much it will cost to create a Brand Ambassador Program for your company? Check out Mack’s Rate Sheet.
It’s almost Spring (I keep reminding myself of this through a bitterly cold January), and with warmer weather comes the chance to engage in one of my favorite hobbies; detailing my car. I fell into detailing a few years ago when I stumbled upon a forum for detailers and read how they gushed about how their ‘high end’ washes and waxes did such a great job on their vehicles. I was skeptical, I mean wax is wax, right? Is that stuff that costs $20 really better than the $5 tin I can get at Walmart?
Finally, I decided to take the plunge, and bought one of the waxes that the ‘experts’ were recommending. I could not believe how much better my car looked. The paint shined and sparkled more than any new car on any lot. I was hooked from that point forward.
So every Spring, I start going through my shopping list of items I need to buy to protect and beautify my car’s paint in the Spring and Summer. For years I’ve been a big fan of the Klasse Twins (AIO & SG), but a couple years ago I started using the Poorboys line and have been thrilled with the results (The picture above is the hood of my car after using three of their products). I thought this would be a good chance to talk to you about the idea of compensating brand ambassadors and how you can do it without paying your ambassadors money.
Let’s use Poorboys as an example. I don’t think Poorboys has a brand ambassador program, but if they did, I’d love to join. But I wouldn’t be interested in being compensated with cash, after all, I’d just spend it on Poorboys’ products!
Whenever I work with clients on crafting brand ambassador programs, I tell them to focus on access more than cash as a form of compensation. If I were a brand ambassador for Poorboys, I wouldn’t want cash as compensation, I’d want access. Specifically, I’d want access to try new products before they hit the market, but also, I’d want access to expert advice on which Poorboys’ products would be best for my vehicle. One of the things you learn early on in detailing is that it’s far more complicated than simply washing a car and then waxing it to get the best results. You have to wash. Then clay, then polish, then maybe a glaze, then possibly a sealant, then top with a wax. That’s a lot of different products to use, and all can react differently depending on the product used before or after them, or the surface they are going on. For instance, my car has a metallic paint color. Some waxes are designed to bring out the metallic flakes in the paint, others are designed to make them less noticeable or ‘mute’ them. I want a wax that makes the flakes ‘pop’.
So for me, it would be great if I could have an expert at Poorboys evaluate my car’s paint, take into account the look I want, and give me advice on the products I should use to get the results I want. So for me, cash isn’t that important as a form of compensation. Instead, I would rather have custom advice/education on how best to detail my car to get the look I want.
One of the best ways to not only compensate ambassadors but also make the program more attractive to them, is to focus on providing benefits associated with how and why they are using your products. In the Poorboys example, I use their products to protect my car’s paint, and make it look better. So a key benefit I would be interested in from a Poorboys brand ambassador program would be if the brand could provide me custom advice/education on how I can better select detailing products for my vehicle. If they could teach me how to be a better detailer, that would benefit me, and it would also ultimately lead to me buying more Poorboys products.
Here’s another example. Let’s say your company sells lawncare products. If you had a brand ambassador programs, a benefit you could provide those ambassadors could be custom workshops or webinars that would teach the ambassadors how to create a more beautiful lawn. By teaching the homeowners a skill associated with your products, you’re not only providing a benefit to the ambassadors, but you’re also teaching them how to create a more beautiful lawn, which makes them happier, and also makes them a stronger advocate for your products!
So as you can see, by compensating your ambassadors with benefits associated with your products, you not only make them more passionate about your brand and products, but you save money! It’s literally a win-win for both your brand and its ambassadors!
David Marshall says
This is David Marshall. We haven’t met or had the opportunity to talk about the work you are involved with. I would enjoy starting a discussion with you as I am thinking we probably have much in common; especially as it relates to discovering and nurturing customers that have “Ambassador” potential.
I worked with Dell and Alienware for 5 years; beginning in 2006. Like you I remember that visit to Building #1. I was having lunch with two Dell leaders, when Bob Pearson received a phone call. When he hung up he was a bit excited and said, “Do you know who that was?” to which I replied, “I give up.” He then said, “That was Michael and he wants to meet with you!” The two I was having lunch with were more excited than I was; for I later discovered that in all the years Michael had his office in Building #1; no one could remember a time when he had invited a customer to visit with him, in that rather vast workspace in the Round Rock corporate headquarters.
Have you ever had a chance to read Bob Pearson’s book, “Precommerce”? It is a wonderful work that is built upon the, then emerging, concept of corporate ambassadors. It would help you “vet” me, as Bob references me and the work I was doing for Dell at the time. I really hope to hear from you. I follow what is happening with Dell and also follow a number of “outlets” on the topic of Social Media and especially those that place an emphasis on customer involvement. I’ve enjoyed reading your work dating all the way back to your first Dell Cap experience. I had provided a bit of the vision for its inception and now a number of years later; having laid low and followed folks like you, but not engaging; I thought it might be a good place to start from as I hope to begin to interact with those that see the value of “Ambassadors”.
I look forward to hearing from you. Blessings!
David (aka: gbakmars)
Mack Collier says
Hi David, thanks so much for your comment and story! I moderated Dell’s #DellCAP events in 2010 and 2011. I helped them a bit with strategy and execution, but that was mostly set by the time I came on. I don’t believe they had another #DellCAP event with customers after that, I know they did some events for employees where they brought in outside experts, but I wasn’t a part of those.
I will definitely check out Bob Pearson’s book Precommerce as that sounds very interesting. I can imagine how much of a thrill it was to meet Michael Dell, quite a compliment to you! I remember during the 2011 #DellCAP event, we went to an area with the customers to show them some of the new products Dell was working on, and at one point Richard Binhammer pulled me aside and said to call everyone into a conference room, that Michael Dell was going to pay a surprise visit for a few minutes. The customers were thrilled, everyone was in awe and smiling. I thought that was a nice touch to surprise the customers like that and it communicated that everyone from Michael on down at Dell were committed to engaging with their customers. I should point out that the day started with Erin Mulligan, who at the time was the CMO at Dell, she’s now CMO at SunPower, joining the group to answer their questions. So by lunch they had already gotten to talk to the CMO and the CEO. That was a big deal.
I’m not sure what the status of the #DellCAP initiatives is at this point, you probably know better than I do. A lot of the contacts I had at Dell at that time have moved onto other companies, Erin, Lionel Menchaca, Richard, so many more. Thank you so much for commenting and reading, please stay in touch, like you I share a passion for programs that engage both customers and employees and help them tap into the passion they have for the brands they love!
Dwayne @ Poorboy's World says
Great read. This sounds like an idea that we would like to discuss further!
Mack Collier says
Hi Dwayne, good job with the social media monitoring! I’ll send you an email today!