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How to run a successful brand ambassador program

, 26 April 2018

You’ve decided to launch a brand ambassador program? It’s quite a challenge. The most important part remains to be done: recruit the members! This is the most strategic step, even more so as recruited ambassadors are in it for the long term. After that, you’ll have to manage your recruits in their first steps. We provide some guidelines for you to make the best start in this adventure.

But before, if you haven’t already done so, take a look at our previous article on the difference between Influencer and Ambassador.

Recruiting ambassadors of choice

The first step is to promote your program, with an article on your blog or even a video. You don’t have to go outside your usual channels, as you want to recruit ambassadors from your existing customers or followers. Next you can put online a pretty stringent application form for those interested in working with you.

Then comes the selection. The criteria are:

  • The candidate is already a (loyal) user of your product or service.
  • The candidate’s main motivation is not purely financial.
  • The candidate is prepared to make himself as visible as possible in order to promote your brand.
  • The candidate has a certain influence on social networks, forums or via a blog.

On this last point, it’s not necessary for the brand ambassador to already be an established macro-influencer. It’s even common practice to help brand ambassadors increase their influence once they are recruited. They then grow at the same time as promoting your brand, and their gratitude and loyalty will only be strengthened.

Rudy is an ambassador for ASOS. He now has 40,000 followers on Instagram, and has become a cornerstone of the company’s communication on the preferred social network of millennials.(Photo credit: @trobrilliants, Instagram)

A brand like ASOS has an ambitious program with 23 brand ambassadors called “Insiders”. For the French market, we find for example Rudy Trobrillant (sic), a rather unknown profile initially, who increased his influence by communicating on his experiences with the brand.

Another possible recruitment channel consists of “recycling” an influencer. If, after a one-off campaign, an influencer has delivered results beyond expectations, it may be possible to extend and strengthen the partnership by naming them as brand ambassador. On paper, this is a fairly safe way to go, but in fact, it is unlikely that an influencer will agree to giving up covering other brands to become an ambassador, a role by definition exclusive to your brand.

Rewarding ambassadors

Unlike an influencer who is best paid a fee, the rules are less strict for an ambassador. With an influencer, the contract states the visibility to be obtained and the corresponding remuneration in advance. With an ambassador, the reward can be measured by the brand based on the effective contribution.

You have to keep in mind that the association alone of their name with your brand is already a reward for the ambassador, given that they have a special affection for it. Sometimes the most important thing for an ambassador is knowing that their contribution is appreciated.

Collaboration with your Ambassador can grow gradually: from an unofficial representative, they can become the face of the brand. (Photo credit: Alekzan Powell, Unsplash)

The rewards or proofs of gratitude from the brand can be multiple: exclusive invitations to events, advance access to new products, receiving derivative product in the brand’s colours, participation in the company’s communication strategy, visibility vis à vis the brand’s major accounts, etc. The deal must be win-win.

Another possibility is to associate your program with an Affiliate Marketing deal. The ambassador is then rewarded with a commission on the purchases they generate. The more effective their work, the more they are paid accordingly.

Of course, if the activity becomes full time for the ambassador, it develops into a fully-fledged job and the Ambassador must be paid a salary.

Defining the scope of the partnership

It’s essential to establish a privileged communication channel between the in-house program manager and the ambassadors. This is especially true at the beginning of the program, when the ambassadors will have many questions to ask.

Establishing a personal relationship with the Ambassador is essential, ideally face to face, or at least via a Skype type video conference. (Photo credit: Nappy, Pexels)

Above all, we must also allow ambassadors to communicate with each other. Opening a common discussion space, on Slack for example, is a good start, even if your program consists of only two or three ambassadors at the beginning. The emulation that will be created among ambassadors can only be favorable to their active participation in the program…

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