Following on from last month’s blog where Andrew Hulme shared 5 top tips on creating an effective brand ambassador programme, we delve a little deeper into the fundamentals of brand advocacy, Frances Gilman shares insight into how to run a successful brand ambassador programme.
What are the fundamentals of a brand ambassador programme?
How do you encourage member sign up?
- Have a programme plan with long-term objectives – outline your objectives from the outset so that you can properly communicate the offering to potential ambassadors.
- Be clear about what your potential ambassadors will gain – this could include career progression, new experiences, and internal recognition. While flash rewards are appealing, it is the long-term benefits that will widen the talent pool.
- Make it easy and don’t ask too much upfront – Be realistic about the requirement criteria and remember that the right person will be committed to the role and learning and evolving as they go.
- Plan a social event – get your potential ambassadors together and show the community spirit of the role. Use this as an opportunity to really show off what your programme aims to deliver and leave a positive experience behind, making people want more.
- Know who you are looking for – Your ambassador programme is only as strong as your ambassadors, so go for quantity over quality. Take the time to understand the type of people you want as part of your programme.
What makes a good brand ambassador?
- What does good look like for you? Without a clear answer to this question you will struggle to find your ideal candidate. Planning is key, so know what you want to achieve, communicate this out to your ambassadors and work together to get there.
- Loyalty is key. Your ambassadors should be true brand advocates and willing to go above and beyond their daily duties (especially if they aren’t your employees). But remember that you need to be equally committed to building relationships with your ambassadors.
- You want to find charismatic, driven and dynamic individuals – self-starters, who aspire to be heard and seen.
How do you communicate with ambassadors?
- The most important element of an ambassador programme is having a community feel, so make your comms channel accessible be it via a dedicated website, ambassador app, social platform, Zoom calls etc.
- Consider the type of content you need to share with your ambassadors to ensure it is being communicated in the best way.
- Don’t ask for too much – be realistic with your expectations and ensure they’re achievable without overwhelming your ambassadors.
- Shout about successes and give your ambassadors recognition (even for the small things) – people like to be told ‘well done’ so make this part of your programme.
- Be authentic and have real conversations – Ambassador communities are more likely to succeed when all individuals feel like they are part of something and that their voice is being heard.
- Set out a clear roadmap – your ambassadors need to know what they are aiming for. By setting monthly, quarterly and annual goals you can encourage your ambassadors to work towards these. Incentivise them to keep them engaged and striving for the next reward.
What does good engagement look like?
- A programme that meets the initial objectives you set out, shows good engagement. The fact that your ambassadors have fulfilled your objectives and accomplished results is success in itself.
- Consider what your minimum expectation is and plan for a blip in engagement levels. Recent times, such as COVID-19, are prime examples of how impossible it is to plan for the unknown. By allowing your programme to be flexible, ambassadors will be more likely to stay on-board in the long run.
- Set out a membership criteria and treat it like a subscription where ambassadors need to show a base level of interaction in order to keep their place and consistently encourage them to go above and beyond in the role.
- Review your objectives – business plans, brand messaging, product ranging, it is all subject to change so your ambassador should be too.
- Encourage ambassador feedback. Individuals are much more likely to engage with a brand which they feel listens to them – it might even spark a new idea you hadn’t thought of.
Is it difficult to manage and validate ambassadors?
If only this was a straight answer! if your ambassadors are your own employees then no, managing and validating ambassadors shouldn’t be difficult because ultimately you hold their information and make sure they are supported in their role whilst they are part of your programme. If, however, your ambassadors are third party (which is often the case) then managing and validating them can be much hard, you need to:
- Ensure all parties (yourself, your ambassador, and your ambassador’s employer) are on-board and get your paperwork in place before the programme launches (privacy policies, GDPR, programme terms and conditions etc.)
- Pre-agree with your ambassador’s employer what data needs to be shared in order for the programme to be a success – this includes not only personal data but also performance data, making sure your content is somewhat aligned with internal messaging
- Make sure you have an approval process in place as some employers have clear guidelines on how third-party brands should/can talk to their employees
- Consider your ambassador’s previous employment record – making sure that you are happy with their history within the company
- Once on-board, have a direct communication channel open between you and the ambassador – if this isn’t in place you risk messages being missed and your ambassador being unable to deliver what you want
What are the risks of an ambassador programme and what could go wrong?
- It might not work as quickly as you’d like – our recommendation is to look at ambassador programmes as a community of likeminded people who truly love your brand. Additional sales made by these individuals are simply a happy accident, so don’t launch a programme with the expectation for sales to increase straight away – it takes time.
- A breakdown in communication between a brand and its ambassador’s employer can often have a negative effect on the programme. Make sure all parties are committed to the programme to avoid any potential hiccups in the future.
- Have a contingency plan – sometimes, things don’t go to plan, so you need to have measures in place to remove people from your programme if necessary.
How do you measure the results of an ambassador programme?
- Insightful results become available once the programme has been running for a minimum of six months (excluding your sign-up period), so make sure you factor in the time and budget to allow your programme to mature to this stage. Give your programme time to settle in and begin to grow and evolve on its own.
- Consistently review your objectives to see if your programme is going in the right direction and that targets are being met.
- Once your ambassadors are on-boarded and performing to your base level, consider stretch targets to push them – see who ups their game; these are the ambassadors you want to work hard to keep.
- Consider external factors which may have impacted your programme and pull feedback from as many sources as possible. It is impressive how far a successful ambassador programme can reach.