Word-of-mouth advertising is a powerful way to entice consumers to try a new product or brand. People inherently trust one another's opinions. In fact, 70% of consumers trust a review or recommendation from a peer over the same messaging delivered straight from the company, and an overwhelming 83% trust recommendations from friends and family.
Unfortunately, word of mouth is a difficult channel to control. A company can't mandate positive reviews, but a brand can work with brand ambassadors to control more of the messaging. Decision makers need to find people who love their brands to post engaging content about their products and entice their audiences to make purchases.
Creating Goals for Your Ambassador Program
Before starting the hunt for the perfect candidates, however, companies must first consider their goals for a brand ambassador program. You want someone to authentically promote your brand, so you need to determine how and where ambassadors would engage and promote and then identify the business objective against which you'd like to generate results.
Many businesses consider transactional sales the easiest focal point, but you should also pay attention to where you are in the life cycle of your brand. Do you have an emerging product and need to build awareness? Are you coming out of stealth mode and looking to delve into buyer perception? Is your company in its growth stage, leading you to look for additional advertising channels? Are you trying to ignite interest in your product among a new audience? Each of those points requires a different sort of ambassador, a different approach, and a different level of engagement with your product.
Finally, finding multiple ambassadors is key. Unless you're working with well-known celebrities, one or two people can’t move the needle. Casting out a large net can be beneficial in obtaining a group of ambassadors. TheSkimm, for example, offers ambassadors both product and networking opportunities for obtaining email subscriptions. Pura Vida Bracelets provides a sales commission to its ambassadors, who must have active social media accounts.
Both companies encourage their ambassadors to wear their product and swag when they’re out locally, furthering their reach and engagement. Both companies also offer a tiered approach to being a part of the program, offering rewards for more engaged ambassadors.
Finding the Right Brand Ambassador
The right brand ambassadors will fit your brand, stay motivated, provide you with useful product feedback, and keep an eye out for negative press or competitors edging in on your space. Once you've got the goals for your ambassador program in place, look for candidates that fit these three criteria:
1. They are already interested in what you offer
Your ambassadors should be people who actually buy the type of product or service you're selling — whether they purchase it from you or from a competitor. They should think critically about their purchasing decisions, read reviews, and compare your product to others to determine why your brand offers the best value in the space. Focus on candidates who are already engaging with your brand or similar brands.
2. They fit the demographics of your target audience
Your ambassadors should fall in the same age range and location as the people you're targeting with your other marketing and advertising strategies. Look through your acquisition and advertising analytics to get a good sense of your ideal customer, and apply those same criteria to your search for potential ambassadors. Identify the customers who frequently purchase your product or products like yours, and add them to your list of candidates. Automating this process is key to growing your ambassador list quickly.
3. They are active online
Once you have a list of candidates who fit the previous two criteria, you can focus on those who are most active online. People who reliably purchase your product but don't regularly post and engage on social media won't be successful brand ambassadors. Find people who spend time on Instagram, Reddit, Snapchat, Facebook, or blogging platforms, and meet them where they are. Content marketing, affiliate partnerships, and strong online personas are great ways for brands to successfully recruit ambassadors. Have someone from your team reach out to these ambassadors directly or look for a service that can help you identify ready and willing ambassadors to work with you.
A final tip: Instagram is becoming a driving force for brand engagement. 58% of unique visitors to the social network are female and use it as a primary way to discover new products and services, and the majority of our users agree. If you're unsure where to begin your search for ambassadors and engaged buyers, try starting with Instagram.
Knowing your product, your position in your brand's life cycle and key details about your target audience will make finding ideal brand ambassadors much easier. And once your ambassadors are on board, you can focus on creating a consistent marketing strategy they can use to engage their followers. Their influence among their peers will lead new consumers to purchase your products and become advocates for your brand.