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The Power of Brand Ambassadors

In today’s competitive marketing environment, the need of a brand ambassador plays an important role in business. Brand ambassadors can add major value to a business: they are cost effective, offer instant marketing opportunities and will act as your business’ best critics. finding and building the right brand ambassador is one of the most important things brands need to think of if they want to get the best results in the marketing and social media worlds.

Can Brand Ambassadors Boost Sales?

The biggest advantage of these ambassadors is their credibility. There’s nothing people hate more than a pushy salesperson and brand ambassador can reach to customers on a personal, less formal level. Studies have shown that peer recommendations hold 4 times as much weight as advertisements. The meaning is that it’s important to build a strong reputation based on what customers are saying about your business. It requires great logistic efforts of the company in recruiting, training and managing but it’s worth the effort.

Students as Brand Ambassadors

Students are a preferred target for marketers: in the 2010-2011 school years, students spent $26 billion on cars, computers, games, credit cards, clothing, accessories and alcohol. Companies who hook students early, get customers for life. Since college life has become completely commercialized, marketing around campuses is no longer a problem.

The biggest advantage is that by serving as ambassadors, students’ influence their peers much more than any media channel, making brands seem cool in a way no marketer can. The ambassadors are at the same age as their targeted customers, they look alike and speak the same language. Since young people tend to listen to their friends more than they listen to any salesperson, using students as ambassador is a stellar marketing strategy.

Customers as Brand Ambassadors

A brand ambassador doesn’t have to be a celebrity; one of the new trends around is assigning a customer as a brand ambassador. Satisfied customers are the easiest-to-enroll brand ambassadors and since everyone has a love affair with at least one brand, finding loyal customers who will be willing to spread the word shouldn’t be a problem. Most likely, customers are already promoting the company or product they love, so why not use it?

Starbucks, for example, empower customers to lead innovation with their “My Starbucks Idea” campaign. This is a new way of involving the customer through social media. By creating online platforms, Customers and company interact and customers can put their ideas and suggestions out there and become active.

The power of customers’ testimony and stories is already proven as increasing web traffic; they tweet, “like”, post blogs, load articles, photos or links. They become immersed in the brand and their authentic voice is worth millions to a business because it’s genuine and honest.

Employees as Brand Ambassador

Brand ambassadors are becoming a great way for businesses to leverage their biggest asset – their employees. The use of workers to humanize corporations is becoming essential in an era where visibility and transparency are key points in the game.

People have hard time relating to big, faceless corporations. It’s much easier to connect with someone who has both personality and is passionate about what they do. Using employees as ambassadors allows customers to relate more to the company and its products or services and it allows brands to reach new markets, create a buzz and put real face on their company.

Some companies fear of letting employees act as ambassadors but if employees are enthusiastic and inspired by the product they sell or the company they work for, using them as the company’s face and voice is a great advantage. In those days of the rise of the social media, employees have a voice and ignoring this fact is dangerous and missing the point.

Using employees can also increase the sense of engagement and excitement employees feel about their work place and there’s no doubt they’ll become better workers.

Should Brand Ambassadors Be “Real” People?

Years ago, I loved the fact American Apparel were using “real” people for their ads: company’s employees, friends and fans who volunteered to model. In the last couple of years, it turned out that American Apparel were also using “real” models and that some of the information they’ve put in their ads was not true.

Despite that, newspapers and websites continued to relate to American Apparel as a company with an authentic voice and original campaign. Riding on the real-people-wave as brand ambassadors gave American Apparel extra credit even if it wasn’t completely true.

People like to see real people and to hear real stories because they can identify with them. It’s always nice to see a perfect model in an ad, but seeing a real person, who looks average and most importantly, looks like most of the folks out there, gets faster and stronger marketing results.

Sources:

1) NY Times: On Campus, It’s One Big Commercial

2) Inc: How to Find the Right Employees to Be Your Brand Ambassadors

3) Social Media Examiner: 3 Rewards and 3 Risks of Making Customers Brand Ambassadors

4) Schwartz comm: Must Love Snacking: Empowering Brand Ambassadors Through Social Media

5) The Social Workforce: Developing an Army of Brand Ambassadors

6) Brand Embassy: Down With Myths About Brand Ambassadors

7) Conversational Corporation: Employees as Brand Ambassadors: Enthusiasm is Infectious

8) soshable: How to Find and Build Brand Ambassadors

9) Photo Credits: Schwartzcomm

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