A brand ambassador is someone online or offline who promotes your brand, ideally just because they believe in your brand, not because they’re paid. Prospective consumers trust brand ambassadors’ endorsements because consumers believe those voices to be authentic. So the next question is how do you get a brand ambassador? Where do you find an unpaid advocate? Where you look and what your next steps are depend largely on your geographic focus.
Best Places to Find a Brand Ambassador
Brand ambassadors may be online or offline advocates. You will have to determine for your business and product/service line which type of brand ambassador is more likely to work for you. Although not a hard and fast rule, local businesses may get more value from a real person from the community—i.e., an offline brand ambassador—while companies with a more expansive geographical reach (or wanting a more expansive reach) are likely better served by an online ambassador who has regional or national influence.
Once you determine if a virtual or live brand ambassador will be of more benefit to your business, then you need to search for prospective ambassadors. Here’s where to start:
|Offline Live Brand Ambassador||Online Brand Ambassador|
|· Your own social network—what community leaders do you already know or have an “in” with through a mutual (trusted) friend/acquaintance?||· Industry bloggers/reviewers—highly viewed and/or read bloggers and vloggers covering issues relevant to your industry.|
|· Local TV or radio personalities—who’s face and/or voice is recognized and well liked in the community?||· Subject matter experts—authors of white papers, contributing authors and editors, etc. of respected, oft-referenced information in/about your industry|
|· Law enforcement|
|· Local policy makers and influencers|
If you do not know what community and/or industry leaders could help promote your brand, your first task is to research. Find out who your target audience is turning to for buying advice, reviews, information, etc. Who are trusted names in the community (even if no one can explain why). In addition to helping you identifying potential brand ambassador candidates, this process may help you understand your own target market better so that all your marketing efforts can be adapted to resonate with your audience and boost ROI.
How to Get Someone to Be Your Brand Ambassador
Step 1 is to find one or more brand ambassador candidates. Next comes the more challenging part—convincing them to be one. Your approach will be dictated by the level of familiarity (or lack thereof) the potential brand ambassador has with your product/service.
If a brand ambassador candidate is a former or current client or consumer, then ask. A formal request made face-to-face or in a crafted letter is more likely to 1) clearly communicate the gravity of the request and 2) elicit a serious response. Be aware that your initial ask may be met with some hesitance or questions, and that’s understandable. After all, people are hesitant to (over) commit their time and/or be wary of legal entanglements. Your ask will at least open the door to further discussions where you and your ambassador candidate can shape a relationship that works for both of you.
If a brand ambassador candidate is unfamiliar with your product/service, you first need to introduce them to what you offer and cultivate a relationship. This is likely to require free product samples or services. In fact, if you are approaching an industry blogger or SME with whom it may be impossible to reach geographically, then samples are a must. When starting from scratch, you cannot move from sample delivery to asking for full-on brand ambassadorship. You will need to start smaller—ask for private feedback based on their experience with similar/competing products, request a review on their blog/vlog. Allow online brand ambassador candidates to be open about how they heard about your product. Transparency will help the blogger/vlogger to maintain their audience’s trust, and that can translate to more immediate consumer trust if/when that blogger/vlogger becomes your brand ambassador.
The time it takes to cultivate a relationship with a candidate is likely to be similar to the time it takes to cultivate a lead-to-sale conversion. In other words, the higher the price tag, the longer it may take to convince an influencer to become your brand ambassador. You may, in fact, use the same sales process. Although the best brand ambassadorship is unpaid, be prepared to invest in the process.