6 Tips for Building Loyal Brand Ambassadors

Despite a company’s massive marketing budget and high-profile ads, nothing compares to a recommendation from a trusted family member, friend or colleague. How does a brand encourage earned media, though? They develop a product or service that brings genuine, needed value to their audience and they provide stellar customer service. Once you’ve taken both of those steps and acquired happy customers, it’s time to develop a brand ambassador program by finding leaders in various communities who will promote your products and services. Here are six ways to create and maintain loyal brand ambassadors.

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1. Target your brand ambassador selection.

While some companies have an open ambassador program, allowing people to signup online, much more value comes from cultivating targeted supporters. When it comes to word-of-mouth marketing, quality is more important than quantity. Fewer ambassadors who have a real relationship with your brand and whose opinions are trustworthy are better than numerous ambassadors who don’t have as much first-hand experience with your product or service. Ultimately, the best ambassadors will have had great experiences with your company and they’ll be well-known local influencers.

2. Cater to each brand ambassador’s strength.

Not all brand advocates are alike. Cater to their unique strengths and differentiate each area’s ambassador program based on their skill set. For example, some people are adept at public speaking, while others are more comfortable behind the scenes where they can arrange events. Some people are highly influential on social media while others have a strong in person presence.

3. Celebrate and observe your brand ambassadors.

Make your ambassadors feel special and they’ll be proud to be a champion of your company. List their name on your website and ask them to contribute guests post to your company blog. Share their success when an ambassador goes above and beyond for the cause or when something exceptional happens thanks to their effort. Showcase the triumph on your online platforms and at the next event. When you’re short on time, remember that even something as simple as a “thank you” will make your ambassadors feel respected and important.

4. Brand your ambassadors!

Send your ambassadors swag that they’ll use on a regular basis and bring out in public, like apparel, laptop bags, notebooks and pens. Any time an ambassador hosts an event, they should be provided with plenty of branded items, from the backdrop and podium to the notepads and folders they’re using or handing out. Also, since you’ll want your supporters to mention your company’s name a lot, send them the messaging they’ll need. Have business cards printed with their information and e-mail them cheat sheets for updating their social media accounts. For example, you can advise them to add your company to their LinkedIn profile and tell them what to use as a job description. Not only will you give them the tools they need to spread the word, but you’ll also control the wording. It’s important to clarify that your ambassadors aren’t paid sales reps or company employees.

5. Keep the brand ambassador program separate from the referral and affiliate programs.

The entire point of creating brand ambassadors is that they provide genuine, positive recommendations to potential customers. If you offer ambassadors incentives for doing the leg work, people are less likely to trust their suggestions. The actions of your ambassadors should be based on their true support for your company, not the fact that they’re getting something in return. However, it’s difficult to run a brand ambassador program without contributing money in some way. A great way to keep promoters motivated is to bring them together in person and you can offer to pay for sponsored events. By providing your ambassador communities with the capital they need to host meet-ups, you’ll improve morale and help expand their word-of-mouth reach.

6. Engage with your ambassadors on social media.

You can’t always be present to meet your ambassadors and potential customers in person, but you can stay in touch via social media in between gatherings. Instead of simply posting and hoping people take notice, interact with your audience one-on-one. Also, coordinate online events including webinars and hosted chats

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