If you’re a local biz, chances are you love getting photos of people using your products in the wild. There’s nothing better than seeing your stuff in action, and watching it spread awareness to those customers friends as they rave about your items. It’s organic marketing at it’s finest. But getting those photos can be really hard. They come few and far between. This is where you can be sneaky and use a brand ambassador.
What is a brand ambassador?
a person, especially a celebrity, who is paid to endorse or promote a particular company’s products or services.
Now you don’t need a celebrity to endorse your products, but you can use influencers to your advantage. Essentially a brand ambassador is a person you either pay to push your product, or a person whom you give free items to in return for a service – such as photos, social media posts etc. Like guerrilla marketing, it’s still a way of branding but you’re not screaming out “Hey! I’m actively trying to advertise!” to everyone on your feed. That being said I have seen some pretty hairy and awful things come out of having brand ambassadors, so make sure you don’t get burned as a company. Here are some tips. Please pay special attention to #2!
- Find the right brand ambassadors. This is not where you want to play “Who has the most followers”. Make sure these people are the people who represent your target customer and audience. They should already be your ideal customer, and their social circle should have a similar interest. They should want to share your product because they like it, not because it’s free. If you do this step correctly, you’re bound to not run into as many problems.
- Make an iron clad contract. This is to protect both yourself and your brand ambassador. You are essentially giving free items with the faith that they are going to hold up their end of the bargain. Make sure you convey how many posts you expect and in what specific time span, how many items they will be receiving and any other notes such as a non-competition clauses (where they cannot promote similar products to yours) etc. Make sure they read this and SIGN it with a date. I have seen way too many people get taken advantage of and loose out on product because their ambassadors did not deliver. PS – that’s technically stealing from your company.
- Find the right photography/caption style. Should you want to re-use their photos for your own personal use (market applications, your social media feeds etc), make sure their photo style is on brand with yours and that they agree to you using their photos. If you’re feed is light and bright, don’t choose someone who takes dark moody photos. Same goes with their captions. Do they have the same vibe? If not, say no.
- Set an end date. Have your brand ambassador on a certain month period. Like a 2-6 month term, year or even a probation period. Should you find someone isn’t working out you can easily walk away and not renew their contract without wondering when you can sever ties. A probation period also makes an easy and quick way to say goodbye without having to explain yourself. If they rock you can always ask them back again!
- More is not more. Keeping up with a lot of brand ambassadors is tough. It may sound like a good plan to pick 10 different people, but it also means keeping tabs on those 10 people. From personal experience having Brand Ambassadors is like trying to herd cats. Save yourself some time and only choose a few at a time. If you have a few who kick ass and don’t take a bunch of work, keep them on your roster and add as you go.
Brand ambassadors are a really great way of getting your product seen by new people, and they can certainly lead to sales. Make sure to find a happy balance of how much product you are giving out, to the sales you are getting in return. Please for the love of god – make a contract! Although I know BA’s work, I have seen some GRUESOME battles because of them. Should you take your company in this direction make sure you protect yourself first!
Have you used brand ambassadors before? How did it go for you?