More than ever, companies are enticed by the prospect of launching a brand ambassador program. The idea of having an army of ‘customer marketers’ that help promote the brand is very attractive to many companies. But how do you choose the right brand ambassador?
First, let’s remember what we discussed when we talked about whether you should work with fans or influencers, because the same rules apply. The biggest mistake that many companies make when connecting with potential brand ambassadors is the company will offer customers free products if they will become an ambassador. In other words, companies want to give customers an incentive to become a brand ambassador.
The problem with this approach is that your true fans don’t need an incentive to join your brand ambassador program. All they need is an invitation. Remember that your fans aren’t motivated by free products, they are motivated by access, by a belief in the values and ideals that are core to your company. Your fans want a closer connection with the brand they love, yours. They want the backstage pass, they want a level of access, connection and input with your brand that the average customer doesn’t have. Or want.
Here’s How to Spot Your Best Brand Ambassador
Let’s say Hewlett-Packard is launching a brand ambassador program and wants to promote its new laptop. HP has identified two candidates for its brand ambassador program; Tim and Josh.
Tim has had several different brands of laptops over the years, including an HP. While he wouldn’t consider himself to be a fan of HP, he does think they are about as good as the competition.
HP decides to pitch Tim on joining its brand ambassador program by giving Tim a free laptop. HP encourages Tim to talk about the laptop online, and gives him coupons that he can give to other customers.
The problem with this approach is that HP is enticing a non-advocate to become a brand ambassador for HP by giving him free stuff. Basically HP is trying to ‘buy’ Tim’s advocacy with a free laptop.
The other candidate HP has identified for its brand ambassador program is Josh. Josh is a diehard fan of HP products, in fact he has an active blog devoted to the brand’s computers. In fact HP knows about Josh because he reached out to the company’s social media manager on Twitter and asked her for an interview on his blog.
Josh doesn’t need to be ‘sold’ on HP, he’s already a fan. So HP doesn’t need to offer Josh a free laptop (he’s probably already bought it anyway), they need to offer him special access to the company. HP would ask Josh to help them tell other customers about the laptop, but HP would also make its product engineers and marketers available to Josh so it can utilize feedback from Josh on its products and marketing. Since Josh is a fan, he doesn’t view this as an incentive, he sees this level of access toward HP as a reward for being a fan. So he would be thrilled to join.
On the other hand, if HP went to Tim (a non-fan) and asked him to join its brand ambassador program and told Tim that HP would want him to routinely connect with its product engineers and marketers to give HP feedback on its products, Tim would likely see this as work, and not be interested. Because Tim’s motivation (as a non-fan) is based around getting free stuff, where Josh (the fan) wants more exposure to the HP brand.
Pick ambassadors that believe in your brand
When you are picking brand ambassadors, you don’t want customers that you have to incentivize by giving free stuff. You want people that believe in your vision and who will work with you to help you realize that vision. Remember that your brand ambassadors will literally be your brand’s representatives in your markets.
Pic via Flickr user Irina Patrascu