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When it comes to successful marketing campaigns, it can be fun to imagine a hero for your company swooping in and representing you across the world. They would be personable, but aspirational. Calm and collected, while having all the answers to your customers’ questions, and showing off how fun your brand really is.
Luckily, this image isn’t the stuff of fiction! While a brand ambassador might not actually be able to fly or have super strength, their ability to connect with your audience and embody your brand can be super-human.
What is a Brand Ambassador?
A brand ambassador acts as the “face” of a brand, a real human being representing and promoting a company to the public. They’ll fly around, engaging with customers and spreading the good news of your products and services.
These heroes can come from anywhere! They might be celebrities or influencers, but you can also hire professional ambassadors or recruit enthusiastic customers to don a cape and show up for your brand.
The role often requires a certain level of understanding and appreciation for the brand, as they should be able to answer questions and be spotted in the wild engaging with products. After all, their goal is to encourage others to become customers and give off a positive vibe.
Ultimately, an ambassador can be anyone you want as the face of your company, going out and bumping shoulders with folks on the street or representing you online and in ads.
Ambassador vs Influencer
Many people confuse ambassadors and influencers, and it’s easy to see why. They fulfill a lot of the same goals for the brands they work with, and influencers can make excellent ambassadors.
However, the roles and responsibilities of these positions differ quite a bit.
- Scope - Ambassadors will work with a brand long-term, and may sign exclusive deals with brands. Influencers can be brought on for one campaign, or stick around
- Involvement - You can think of brand ambassadors as part of your marketing team, as they may help design product lines, or plan and host in-person events. Influencers will stick to social media promotion
- Following - An influencer offers companies access to their network on social media and has honed their ability to sell products in their niche. A brand ambassador might have a following, but it isn’t necessary for what they’re doing
- Payment - Payment for influencers is either a one-time thing or delivered through gifts and products. Ambassadors are part of the team and get paid like any other member of your staff, though might have commission pay as part of the agreement
- Engagement - Influencers provide an audience that fits the brands they work with, while an ambassador becomes a full embodiment of a single brand
If you’re looking for a long-term partner who will be invested in your brand and become the public image of it, an ambassador is your best bet.
Why Have a Brand Ambassador?
There are several ways that bringing a brand ambassador onto your team can add value to your company. Having a recognizable face for people to connect with brings tons of benefits.
- Brand Visibility - Brand ambassadors help to get the word out about your company, reaching a wider audience and increasing brand awareness. By actively promoting your products or services, they can attract new customers and generate interest in your brand
- Trust and Credibility - Studies show that less than 20% of consumers trust ads they see on social media, and other forms aren’t much better. However, seeing a real person with personal experiences and stories about your company helps to create a sense of authenticity and reliability
- Human Connection - Brand ambassadors act as the human face and voice of your company. Their interactions with potential customers can create a personal connection, making your brand more relatable, approachable, and memorable
- Feedback and Insights - When you have feet on the ground, speaking with customers and inviting genuine feedback and connections, you can find out what people actually think about your brand. This helps you improve in the future and shows customers you care about what they think
Giving your audience a real human face to connect with is seldom a bad thing, and if that face is someone they admire like a celebrity or someone they know in real life, that effect is only amplified.
Types of Brand Ambassadors
While lots of work goes into creating and running a full ambassador program, the most challenging step is finding the right person or group to be the actual face of your brand. It truly is the thing that will make or break your campaign.
While the role of an ambassador is largely the same across the spectrum, the actual pool you can pull from is varied and vast. Each category of potential ambassador is going to come with its own strengths and weaknesses.
- Wide reach and popularity among various demographics
- Can attract attention and generate brand awareness quickly
- Enhances brand image and credibility through association with a well-known figure
- High costs associated with hiring a celebrity
- Lack of relatability as celebrity lifestyles are often seen as unattainable
- Likely won’t be available for many in-person events
- Limited control over the celebrity's behavior and public image, which could lead to PR nightmares
Bringing on a celebrity ambassador can be seen as a high-risk, high-reward game plan.
Partnering with a social media influencer who has a large following and a strong connection with their audience can be a great way to reach a targeted market.
- Influence within specific niches and community
- Built-in authenticity, relatability, and trust
- More cost-effective than mainstream celebrities
- Hit-and-miss effectiveness, as views, may not translate to sales or brand trust
- Potential lack of loyalty, as influencers often work with multiple brands
- Will largely be primed for online interaction instead of in-person
- No control over the public image of influencers, which might pull your company into internet drama
Influencers can be more accessible and relatable to their followers than traditional celebrities, making their endorsements more genuine and impactful.
An often overlooked place to find ambassadors is within your current roster. With expertise and existing passion, they may already have everything they need to step into the role.
- Deep knowledge and passion for the brand and its products or services
- Existing relationships with both customers and brand
- Understanding of the marketing strategy
- Ability to plan and execute events within the company’s budget and timeline
- Limited reach compared to celebrities or influencers
- Can be perceived as inauthentic or biased as they more directly work for your brand
- May have difficulty balancing their regular workload with the responsibilities of an ambassador
Because they are already invested in your company and know more about it than anyone else, existing employees are an excellent choice for ambassadors.
Working with a well-respected and active member of your local community can help increase brand visibility and credibility. This type of ambassador can also help you connect with your target audience and build a strong relationship with the community.
- Familiarity and connection with the local community, resulting in trust and credibility
- Cost-effective option for targeting a specific geographical area
- Potential for positive word-of-mouth marketing within the community
- Authenticity from using real people and customers
- Excitement around event planning and connections
- Limited reach beyond the local community
- Lack of expertise or extensive knowledge about the brand
- It may be challenging to find the right community member to represent your brand
Some of the most successful ambassador programs around use members of the community, like Bumble’s Honeys and Queen Bees.
Expert or Thought Leader
Bringing in an expert or thought leader is a great way to show off your brand’s credibility.
- Clear authority within your niche
- Can educate the audience on your products and services
- Long-term partnerships can build a strong and trustworthy brand image
- Limited reach compared to other big names
- May be perceived as too niche or not relatable to a broad audience
- Might have trouble choosing the right expert or thought leader, especially when pulling from a limited pool
This type of ambassador can also provide valuable insights and perspectives, making them a valuable asset in promoting your brand.
When choosing the right ambassador for your campaign, you’ll want to consider
- Target Audience - Your ambassador should embody your ideal customer. Is that someone suave and untouchable? Sporty and rugged? Artsy and free-spirited?
- Budget - Reaching outside your budget to hire a big-name ambassador will do more harm than good
- Program Goals - Are you looking to increase brand visibility? Hold local events? Add a human touch and connection? Bring in more credibility? Each of these goals will require different things from your ambassador
Whoever you choose will ultimately become the person customers think of when they think of your brand, so it’s worth taking your time.
The Bottom Line
When designing your marketing campaigns, there’s no way for a single person to fulfill everything you need. However, the right ambassador can come very close.
By taking the time to discover what exactly you want out of a brand ambassador program, and searching for the right person to fill that role, your company can find a hero capable of shaping your brand’s image for years to come.
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