One of the best ways to generate interest in your brand is to partner with brand ambassadors. These individuals are cheerleaders for your company — people with industry visibility who are keen to get your product in front of potential customers.
A solid brand ambassador program creates mutual benefits with cost-effective promotion for both parties. They boost brand awareness in the target market and drive sales in a less expensive way than other channels.
Companies benefit from ambassadorships because trusted faces can promote products to their readers and followers. Ambassadors benefit because they receive commission on every product sold thanks to their influence. But commissions only come from customers who convert, so both businesses and ambassadors benefit from a transparent and efficient working arrangement.
How Do I Know When I’m Ready for an Ambassador Program?
To build a great brand ambassador program, you have to have a great brand. Bloggers and industry insiders don’t want to hawk run-of-the-mill products that could hurt their credibility as influencers. To attract the right people, you have to have something unique to offer. The more niche the product, the better.
Once you have something that sells and that customers love, you can start developing your ambassador program. But before rounding up a list of popular bloggers, you have to make sure your company is ready to take on these partnerships.
Brand ambassador programs require constant communication with affiliates, stats reporting, content for ambassadors to share, and a timely commission system. Be sure your business has the capacity to support this network before undertaking such an initiative.
Who Should My Ambassadors Be?
When the time comes to approach potential ambassadors, your current network is a good place to start. Bloggers and social media influencers you’ve worked with in the past make great ambassadors because you already have a relationship and they already know your product. Seek people who have a professional presence, both online and off. They’ll be representing your brand, so you want people who reflect the values and style of your company.
Most importantly, you want ambassadors who are genuinely passionate about what you’re selling and will share your offers on a regular basis. Customers will know if the people promoting your products don’t buy into them, and that’s just bad for business.
How Do I Build a Successful Brand Ambassador Program?
Supporting an ambassador network is an ongoing, time-consuming task. A solid program requires several key parts that ensure efficient product promotion and help build a good working relationship between your company and ambassadors:
- Content and Communication
Don’t just sign ambassadors up for a kickback program and leave them to do all the work. Create content they can share on their blogs and social media accounts. Provide banners and display ads that they can post on their sites. Keep ambassadors in the loop on product news and developments, and offer them special promotions to share with their audiences. Giving ambassadors best-practice guidelines on how often they should post content will help them avoid over-promoting the brand.
- Tracking and Reporting
Using a CMS makes it easy to communicate regularly with ambassadors. It’s also important to have a tracking system they can access to see who’s clicking content, what’s driving conversions, and how much money they’re making. Such information provides insight into which strategies work and which need tweaking, changes that benefit both the ambassadors and the company.
- Timely Payment
This may be the most important aspect of a good ambassador program. Financial incentive is the foundation of this agreement. Companies that aren’t on top of making timely payouts don’t have much to offer their ambassadors. Many programs are derailed because they can’t provide accurate accounting and don’t pay ambassadors on time.
Give your ambassadors more than just their earned commissions. Follow them on social media, share their blog posts, use their content on your site when appropriate, and post “spotlight” interviews with them to give their brands a boost, as well. This builds loyalty among ambassadors and increases their confidence in your product and company. Referrals from trusted sources such as bloggers strongly influence customers’ buying decisions, so a happy ambassador likely means more sales.
A good brand ambassador program is all about having a product and brand worth promoting. Offer something great, and you’ll have plenty of ambassadors eager to spread the word. Offer a great product and an ambassador program that provides mutual support and promotion, and watch as the sales start pouring in.
Clay Bethune is a successful entrepreneur and co-founder of 9th & Elm. Clay has been an entrepreneur for more than 15 years and has started and sold many businesses in various industries.
This article was published in 2014 and is frequently updated