If you’re looking for a way to better connect with your customers through marketing, finding relevant local influencers and building an ambassador program might be the answer.
Influencer marketing has become a crucial form of marketing for many local businesses in the past few years. Local influencers or brand ambassadors can be an excellent addition to your small business’ marketing efforts. They tend to offer an affordable marketing opportunity. On top of that, their messaging feels more authentic to your customer base, helping them form a better connection and attract new customers.
In this article, we’ll go over how to find influencers and advocates for your business and how to maximize the results you see from influencer marketing.
What is a Brand Ambassador?
Brand ambassadors help embody your brand and introduce it to others. They will talk about your brand online and spread the word about your products. You can think of a brand ambassador as the “face” of your brand.
Some brand ambassadors will be experts in the field, making them uniquely poised to give advice to your target audience. This encourages people to try your product or service because of the brand ambassador’s authority. Others will come directly from your audience base. This encourages conversion because your audience sees the influencer as one of them.
Importantly, some brand ambassadors will work with your business without any need for compensation. They will do this just because they love your business, products, or services. Many, however, will expect an incentive of some sort. This can come in the form of a free product or service in exchange for a review or post on their social media profile. Or it may be financial compensation. Some brand ambassadors, for example, receive a percentage of the sales they bring in.
It is also worth mentioning that you can get external brand ambassadors or employee brand ambassadors. Employee brand ambassadors are already on your team while external ones are likely people who buy and love your products.
Brand Ambassadors vs. Influencers
The terms brand ambassador and influencer are often used interchangeably, but there are technically some differences between the two.
Both represent your brand, but:
- Brand ambassadors work with your brand for a longer time, while influencers may just have one or two interactions or posts.
- Brand ambassadors don’t necessarily need to be famous or have a large social following, although it can help. However, influencers do have considerably sized followings.
- Brand ambassadors are usually fans of your brand or at least aware of it.
- Brand ambassadors usually have smaller audiences.
Ambassadors, while they might not be as well known as social media influencers with large audiences, can be considered micro-influencers. So, why would a company choose to work with someone who has hundreds of followers instead of someone who has tens of thousands of followers? There are pros and cons to different audience sizes. For example, a small audience often means a more engaged audience. A large audience, on the other hand, means a wider reach for your brand.
As you find influencers to work with, it’s important to keep your marketing goals in mind. You’ll want to work with relevant influencers who can help you achieve your specific goals. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for the perfect influencer campaign or ambassador program.
How Do Brand Ambassadors Help Brands Grow?
Brand ambassadors or micro-influencers can help brands grow in many ways, including:
- Creating content for your website
- Creating content on social media
- Leaving reviews
- Telling your brand story
- Connecting with your target audience
- Selling your services without being overly sales-y or pushy
- Giving your brand a human face
- Making a positive impression for your brand
- Increasing brand awareness
- Reaching new audiences
- Improving engagement rate
- Gathering feedback from your audience
What Makes a Good Brand Ambassador?
The most important trait in a brand ambassador is someone who already loves your products. There is a good chance that your loyal customers already promote your products, at least to family and friends. Encouraging them to become brand ambassadors just takes this to the next level.
While loving your product is a good start, it is not the only trait to look for in a good brand ambassador. Your ideal ambassador will be someone who:
- Is already a happy customer
- Fits in your audience demographics
- Has great communication skills
- Will act professionally
- Has a positive outlook and personality
- Is sociable and engaging
- Can improvise and be flexible
- Represents your brand message and values
- Has a following on social media or a blog (although, as mentioned earlier, it’s okay to choose people who aren’t well known Instagram influencers with massive followings)
- Has some marketing knowledge (ideal but not necessary)
- Is active on social media platforms
Benefits of Starting a Brand Ambassador Program for Your Local Business
We’ve touched on some of the benefits of having brand ambassadors at your local business, but some are worth exploring in more detail. You will notice that there is a great deal of overlap between the benefits of an influencer marketing campaign and creating a brand ambassador program.
→They improve your credibility.
Using a brand ambassador will help improve your credibility with your target audience. This is one area where brand ambassadors can deliver better results than influencers. That is because influencers are more commonly associated with being compensated and willing to advertise for any company. By contrast, brand ambassadorship is associated more with people who genuinely love the product or brand.
Whether you use a brand influencer or a local influencer, however, you will notice a boost in your business’ credibility. That is because ambassador and influencer reviews and posts serve a similar purpose as personal recommendations. They have a deeper connection than just reading a faceless online review would. They also serve as social currency by providing social proof.
→They help build brand loyalty.
That boost to credibility also helps encourage loyal customers. Brand loyalty is excellent for businesses of any size, as it costs less to retain a customer than it does to convert a new one.
→They create content specific to your company.
One of the great things about brand ambassadors is the fact that they create content that is specific to your brand. This content will fit your branding and customer base while highlighting your products and services.
This makes ambassadors a great way to increase the amount of content that your brand produces. Best of all, the brand ambassadors are typically part of the target audience, so their content will better target that audience.
→They show you are part of the community.
Because your brand ambassadors are members of the local community, their presence highlights that your business is part of the community. This encourages positive connections with potential customers and a feeling of authentic engagement.
→They grow your social media presence.
Between their content creation and community involvement, brand ambassadors are an excellent way to boost your social media presence and followers. This, in turn, extends your reach.
→They boost website traffic.
Through the benefits mentioned above, your brand ambassadors will naturally boost traffic to your website.
→They boost sales more affordably than other marketing efforts.
The ultimate result of all of the above is that brand ambassadors will help you make more sales. At the same time, their efforts will typically cost less than you would spend on another type of advertising.
How to Discover Influencers or Brand Ambassadors
The process of finding brand ambassadors is very similar to how to find local influencers. You can take the following steps in any order.
→Step 1: Use social media.
Start by using social platforms to announce your brand ambassador program. Invite your followers to join your program. If they already follow you on social media, there is a good chance that they are happy with your products, so this is a good starting point.
→Step 2: Ask loyal customers in person.
When you interact with loyal customers in your store, mention your brand ambassador program to them. This ensures that they know about it and provides encouragement that they would be a good fit.
→Step 3: Text loyal customers.
You don’t have to ask loyal customers in person. You can also do so via text. Consider sending a mass message to your text marketing list, letting them know about your brand ambassador program. Just remember to only text people who have opted in as this is a legal requirement.
→Step 4: Look for social media profiles with high engagement.
Don’t just announce your brand ambassador program on social media and assume that will do the job. You will get better results if you directly reach out to individuals after you scan social platforms.
To do this, look at the profiles of people who have followed you on social media or mentioned your brand in posts. If you spot someone with a lot of social media followers and a high engagement rate, approach them. This is also a great strategy to find influencers for your influencer marketing.
Remember to make sure to find relevant local brand ambassadors; don’t just identify influencers near you. Do some local hashtag research and check the profiles of potential influencers to ensure they are a good fit for your brand.
You could even try to discover popular posts that are relevant to your brand and seem to fit your audience.
→Step 5: Send an email after repeat purchases.
You can also set up an automatic email campaign that tells repeat customers about your brand ambassador program. For example, you can trigger it to invite people to join after a certain number of purchases.
→Step 6: Put inserts in your packages.
If your company ships products to customers, consider including an insert in the box mentioning your brand ambassador program and encouraging people to sign up.
→Step 7: Feature current brand ambassadors on social media.
It is also smart to occasionally highlight brand ambassadors on social media. Featuring them will help spread the word about your program. It will also help show customers how easy and fun it is to become an ambassador.
Take Your Marketing Efforts to the Next Level
Having a brand ambassador program is a great way to take your marketing efforts to the next level and grow your small business. It can supplement your other marketing efforts, increasing your brand engagement and website visitors. This, in turn, leads to increased sales.