Recent research confirms that audiences are increasingly focused on whether they can trust a brand when making purchasing decisions… ranking “trust” closely behind “price”, according to a survey from Edelman
Similarly, a study by Nielsen found that eight out of ten consumers trust a recommendation from another consumer (including friends and family) – over promotional content directly from a company. And still another study reported that 74 percent of consumers purchased products based upon a personal referral… with word-of-mouth conversions resulting in a 66 percent positive brand experience.
Building Product industry professionals are no different. They too are much more likely to trust channel opinions of a brand over what a manufacturer says about itself.
So, what exactly is a brand ambassador?
A brand ambassador is a trusted advocate who promotes a brand to specifiers in their network to boost that brand’s awareness and to help drive potential revenue.
Brand ambassadors are active users of your products — who believe in your brand and want to share that enthusiasm with others. They are thought-leaders in their community, have good following on their social pages and maintain engaged audiences who value their opinion and trust their judgment.
Unlike influencers, who only represent a brand for a specific campaign, ambassadors have agreed to maintain an ongoing relationship with your brand. Not only do they become an extension of your sales team, but they often grow as brand equity partners.
What is a brand ambassador program?
A brand ambassador program is a formal relationship with selected industry professionals who are advocates of your brand — and are willing to promote you — because they truly believe in your products and agree to contribute to your brand promise.
In turn, you provide your ambassadors with important information, including key product and campaign messaging… along with basic guidelines to follow when they reference your brand.
These ambassadors will help to spread the word about your brand through a variety of channels, including content creation, social media posting, trade show participation, face to face interactions as well as through association meetings networking events.
They will be willing to share behind-the-scenes photos of the products, provide video testimonials of their experience and can offer a fresh approach to using your products. As such, ambassadors become part of your research and development process. And play a vital role in innovation.
The following are steps for creating a successful ambassador program:
Choose the Right Ambassadors
Before you can launch an ambassador program, you’ll need to select ambassadors. Authenticity is key. You’ll want to choose ambassadors who not only embody your company’s philosophy, but who genuinely love your brand and its differentiated products.
Band ambassadors must be:
Passionate and connected. Recruit ambassadors who are regular users of your products. They need to feel a strong connection to the brand, company values and the mission of your team.
Active and engaging on social media. Another necessity for any brand ambassador is experience using a variety of social platforms. You know the old saying about when a tree falls in the woods — and no one is listening — it may not be making a sound. Accordingly, it’s critical to seek out candidates who have already established a large-sized network. Who post regularly. And who engage their followers with interesting and highly relevant content.
Professional and consistent. As the face of your brand, your ambassadors must understand that with representation comes responsibility. They should maintain a professional demeanor and be able to clearly articulate your brand messaging and offerings. Make sure there are no posts on their personal social media accounts that could be contradictory to your company’s values.
Set, share and track program goals
Share specific guidelines and expectations with ambassadors prior to launching your program. Provide ambassadors with the information they need to be brand experts. And work together to set goals.
Communicate clearly. Document and share the short- and long-term goals of your ambassador relationship. As well as your marketing efforts as a whole.
Define expectations. Let ambassadors know how often you expect them to engage about your brand on social media and on which platforms. Clearly define what their role will be at trade shows and live events.
Develop a contract. Have ambassadors sign a written contract affirming that they will meet outlined expectations.
Provide the “inside scoop”. Give ambassadors detailed background information on your brand, including relevant promotions and campaigns.
Form a mutually-rewarding relationship. Make the effort to get to know your ambassadors and support their goals. Most ambassadors sign on because they are genuine fans of your brand. Of course, many are also hoping to increase their own industry visibility.
Apply some guidelines. While it’s important to provide structure to help ensure ambassadors represent your brand properly, encourage them to tell their authentic story — and give them enough creative control to do so.
Track activity. Measure how effectively your ambassadors are meeting brand goals. For example, regularly check to see how they are representing your brand on social media, including how often they post. And how much “engagement and reach” each post generates.
Build rapport with ambassadors, and keep them updated
In any long-term relationship, it’s important to maintain regular contact and build a relationship of trust. Keep the lines of communication open with your ambassadors and make sure they can easily reach you with any questions or suggestions.
Provide regular updates. Let ambassadors know about new campaigns and product launches along with updates on your company’s progress. Transparency builds trust. And ambassadors want to feel like they are aligned with your brand’s goals and objectives.
Solicit feedback. Ambassadors want to see your brand succeed. Ask them to give you candid feedback. They have unique perspectives that can help your campaigns and promotions better resonate with key audiences. You can also ask ambassadors to beta test campaign ideas and offer feedback on new product features.
Offer encouragement. Praise ambassadors for their successes. Encourage them and recognize their efforts. You could also offer constructive suggestions on ways in which they might better promote your brand.
Schedule check in calls. Set up periodic check-in calls with ambassadors to touch base and address any concerns they may have. Keeping the lines of communication open will help to ensure ambassadors feel like they’re a valued part of your brand’s journey. Why not include them in a sales rep’s council session?
A brand ambassador program can be a mutually-rewarding experience — and a cost-effective way to market your products and services — while building credibility and reaching potential customers your brand may have not been able to access otherwise.
K&A maintains a robust and diverse community of brand ambassador candidates.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how this type of program can help your building products brand influence more potential sales.