We hear a lot online about the power that influencers are having on both businesses and consumers alike.
From a business perspective, influencers can assist in driving a campaign to a large target audience. As a consumer, endorsement by a credible influencer can generate a significant amount of interest around a product or service, with an audience that wouldn’t typically be as accessible using traditional marketing channels.
And whilst conventional influencers certainly still have their place in marketing strategies across the globe, at FMI we believe that brands should be utilising the influencers right under their noses. The ones who are already a perfect match for delivering a campaign to their target audience, and who are already well and truly bought into their brand.
These influencers are your trade channel staff and your social media fans.
Introducing brand ambassadors
Rather than influencers, at FMI we prefer to refer to these individuals as ‘brand ambassadors’, in the sense that they don’t just understand and appreciate your company, they have a personal investment in it – they are brand advocates.
Of course, both macro and micro-influencers do play their part in a wide range of campaign types, although it can be argued that the budget spent on such online promoters could be utilised more effectively by incentivising brand ambassadors and at a fraction of the price.
But how can employees and channel staff to the business effectively perform as brand ambassadors, whilst still undertaking their day to day duties?
The unique selling point for this ambassadorial concept is that both your employee and trade ambassadors are already being paid to promote and sell your product, so further budgets for them to take on ambassador roles are not required. Instead, a bespoke incentives package can encourage your team to exceed in their current performance and ultimately, reap the rewards as a result.
A tried and tested approach
An example of how effective these brand ambassadors can be is our work with Sony Mobile. We developed a concept that identified 450 ‘hand-picked’ ambassadors, provided a structured 12-month incentive programme and rewarded their top sales performers with a trip to Las Vegas.
With the motivation to sell as many Sony handsets as possible over the time period, mobile industry store staff across the country bought into the brand, learning more about the products they were selling and positioning Sony as the brand of choice at a retail level.
FMI’s core focus is engagement, and for Sony it was critical that their UK head office had a direct route of communication to the staff on the sales floor for;
- a) brand messages to be disseminated immediately and;
- b) ambassadors to share insight directly back to the UK retail team.
This is where we developed the crux of the programme; a bespoke mobile app that was installed on handsets and seeded to ambassadors. This engaged approach was key to ensuring ambassadors felt empowered and part of the Sony brand.
The ambassador app enabled the broadcast of daily messages to the audience, with product and industry questions being asked to users, regular status updates and training content being shared daily. This digital channel of communication provided ambassadors with the latest training material to support their customer sales in-store.
The ambassador programme received active content from the audience on a daily basis, from stock availability, to POS installations and staff training sessions making it dynamic and a first of its kind within the UK mobile industry.
With ten top-performing (and very happy!) sales staff sent off to a “money can’t buy” Las Vegas trip at the end of the year, channel staff were left feeling motivated with a new understanding of Sony Mobile’s product and a desire to be selected for the next year’s recruits.
The programme ran for over six years and encouraged other mobile manufacturers to initiate their own brand ambassador programmes, complete with an incentive trip. We must be doing something right!
“A phenomenal programme developed by FMI that has provided us with the tools to communicate our messaging directly to the shop floor.”
Sony, Field Sales and Marketing Manager
Honor’d to be working with you
Whilst channel staff are a great asset for boosting product awareness and sales, loyal social media followers are also another option.
We worked with youth mobile brand, Honor to develop an external brand ambassador programme which invited a community of bloggers, photographers and videographers – who were already invested in the brand – to join the ‘Honor Elite Club’.
The club helped our brand ambassadors learn more about Honor’s products, experience device features and generally engage further with the upcoming brand. Those who showed the strongest interest (be it through passion or skills) were rewarded with exclusive invitations to Honor events.
These events – developed by our talented events team – included climbing to the top of the o2 arena, a London photography showcase, and an exclusive driving experience with Mercedes Benz.
So, the next time you’re planning an influencer-led campaign, take a step back and consider ways in which those closest to your business can already support you in getting those messages out there. And if you need any encouragement to persuade you, get in touch!