By Alicia Lawrence
Most companies already invest in marketing, public relations, and SEO.
But many times they leave their most valuable resource untapped -—loyal consumers.
The rise of social media in our digitally connected world has made everyone influential to someone.
It could be as simple as a product pinned to Pinterest or a more invested form of word-of-mouth (WOM), such as a product review on their blog.
Either way, influencers have the power to be your biggest asset – or your greatest downfall.
Brand Ambassadors: The Benefits
Harnessing the power of WOM and user-generated content can bring numerous benefits for a company:
- Increased visibility and awareness;
- Higher rankings in search results;
- Trustworthiness of the brand; and
- Larger consumer base and increased sales.
While employees are a little easier to monitor, the potency of loyal consumers’ WOM comes from their free will, which means you have little control over what they write about you.
This shouldn’t scare you away from using brand ambassadors, but it should dictate how to work with them.
Brand Ambassadors: How to Find Them
Before digging into best practices, let’s look at where to find brand ambassadors that would be best for your company. Keep in mind they don’t have to already be a loyal consumer.
Have you found a perfect potential influencer? Then send them a few products for review or consideration.
This is a great way to turn influencers into loyal consumers.
There are four features to look for in a good brand ambassador:
Are They Relevant?
First and foremost, narrow down your search by only looking for people whose reach touches your target audience.
For example, when finding ambassadors for our client Hydroworx, I looked in three areas that were most likely to reach those who would use their services: The elderly, physical therapists, and athletes in training.
Are They Well-Connected?
While everyone is an influencer, you want to go after those who have lots of followers, and loyal readers.
Are They Credible?
Further narrow your list by looking for influencers who are credible and respected. You want to find influencers that embody similar values as your company.
Are They Affordable?
The best brand ambassadors talk about your product for free just because they love it. However, many times you’ll find they need a little incentive to keep them enthusiastic.
You don’t always have to search for brand ambassadors. People like to talk about awesome brands. Your company can fuel their organic buzz by creating easy opportunities for them to share and promote your brand.
And don’t forget one of the main areas that has the most impact on creating loyal consumers — excellent customer service.
How to Fuel Contagious Passion
First, identify and build relationships with your brand ambassadors. Then focus on working with them to maximize their influence as it relates to your brand. Companies should empower — not coerce — their brand ambassadors to talk about their products.
The power of influencers rests with free will, which gives them an authentic, contagious passion for your products.
The best way to encourage ambassadors to create buzz for your company is through incentives.
Giving them something to talk about. And make it a point to keep them in the loop, and engaged with your brand.
For long-term brand ambassadors, have well defined expectations of the relationship. It should be clear what they will receive for their help, and what you expect of them in return. And if they’ve left your brand ambassador program? Always maintain a positive relationship with them.
Brand ambassadors are powerful tools for companies. They give what no advertising campaign can produce, and that’s authenticity.
Consumers are constantly being bombarded by ads. A well placed product review, or an influential social media shout, can often be the deciding factor for potential customers.
Image courtesy of happykatie on Flickr.