There are many brands out there with a brand ambassador program— Lululemon, Pure Vida, Gymshark, Sephora, and Bumble to name a few. Having your own brand ambassadors is like having a constant cheer squad rooting for your product and brand 24/7. Sounds great, right?
If you've dived head first into influencer marketing and you have the systems in place to nurture these partnerships, starting an ambassador program could be the next step to scaling your efforts. Read on to learn more about:
- The importance of brand ambassadors in your marketing efforts
- When should your company start a brand ambassador program
- How to set up your brand ambassador program in four steps
- What successful brand ambassador programs look like in action
Let’s dive in! 👇
What’s the Hype About: The Importance of Brand Ambassadors
73% of marketers already have a brand ambassador program or plan to launch one as they prioritize long-term relationships. So, what’s all the buzz about? Here's three reasons why brand ambassadors should be on your radar:
#1: Ambassador Marketing Levels up Your Authenticity
Your influencer relationships may be short-term. Your marketing campaign ends, the influencer is fully booked, yadda yadda. These one-off partnerships often turn away potential buyers: 47% of customers say they’re tired of repetitive influencer-generated content.
The rescue? Ambassador partnerships. Onboarding your influencers as your brand ambassadors means:
- They communicate about your product to their followers through multiple modes of communication — email, social media, and word-of-mouth
- They become the ‘face’ of your brand
- They’re in it for the long haul
All these things level up your authenticity in the eyes of your consumers.
#2: Brand Ambassador Programs Are Easier to Scale and Maintain
It can be costly — in time and in money — to craft personalized outreach messages to various creators and seed influencers. After a point, you want to build a team and scale your social media presence.
The right influencer marketing strategy here is to retain your influencer relationships by turning your favorite influencers to brand ambassadors.
For the brand ambassador: They get paid more, work with the brands they love, and produce more authentic content for their audience.
For you: Gain compounding returns from long-term partnerships, build a community of brand advocates, and add a high-ROI marketing channel.
It’s a win-win..
#3: Brand Ambassadors Become Your Test Audience
The job description of a brand ambassador isn’t limited to ‘promote products and increase brand awareness among our target audience!’ They can be the test audience before launching new products, brainstorming a marketing strategy, and running successful company events.
What’s better than having your favorite customers available at the drop of a hat to cater to all your marketing efforts?
But don’t hop on the hamster wheel just because brand ambassadorships are gaining momentum.
When Should Your Brand Start a Brand Ambassador Program?
The brand ambassadorship model makes sense for your company only when:
- You want to capitalize on your influencer marketing efforts because you’ve seen wild success with this channel
- You have the financial and staff bandwidth to maintain brand ambassador relationships, marketing strategy, campaigns, and payments
- You’re gaining traction on social media from customers, employees, and influencers posting about your products or services without being asked to
While it’s okay to start ambassador marketing even if you’re early in your journey, it’s still better to meet a few of the checkboxes above to increase your chances of success.
Feel ready to take the plunge?
How to Set Up Your Brand Ambassador Program in 4 Steps
Running brand ambassador programs is no cakewalk. You don’t want to dive into it headfirst and figure out what you’re doing three feet deep. It’s wiser to take a more strategic approach to ambassador marketing.
But before that, let us clear the confusion between influencer affiliate marketing and brand ambassador programs.
Affiliate programs offer the influencer a cut of each sale they bring in. How? Through personalized discount codes, unique links, or other point-of-sale metrics. See how Outdoor Travel Gear offers a 10% commission for every successful referral.
Brand ambassador programs might offer a similar incentive, but it’s not necessary. And the benefits a brand ambassador gets aren’t limited to a commission — they receive free products, exclusive invites to events, and maybe even an upfront fee.
Ambassador marketing also demands more from ambassadors — boosting brand awareness, word-of-mouth marketing, and speaking to the target audience on social media.
With that out of the way, here’s how to launch your brand ambassador program in four easy steps:
Step 1: Map Your Brand Ambassador Program Goals
Figure out what you want to accomplish in your business by launching a brand ambassador program.
- Perhaps you want to go deep on influencer marketing and scale this marketing channel
- Maybe you aim to build a community of brand advocates
- Or your goal is to increase brand awareness
All of these are viable aims from brand ambassadorship programs.
Once you know your objective, you’ll lay the groundwork for effective ambassador marketing. How? Because you’ll automatically understand which type of brand ambassador you want to hire and how many potential ambassadors you want to partner with depending on your budget, staffing resources, and campaign targets.
The next step is to set the criteria for the right brand ambassador.
Step 2: Nail Your Brand Ambassador Criteria
The first step for finding the right brand ambassadors is knowing exactly what you want from them. Again, what you want from a brand ambassador depends on your brand ambassador program goals (set in step one).
Here are three questions you should answer to set your brand ambassador criteria:
- What should be the social media following size of your ideal brand ambassador?
- How often should a brand ambassador post about you on their social media profiles?
- What qualifications should your brand ambassador meet — like being 18+ years of age and having a demographic of followers overlapping with your potential customers?
Make a landing page for attracting brand ambassadors for your business like Brava Fabrics did, or simply keep the document for internal use.
We definitely recommend making a dedicated website page with defined criteria, qualifications, steps to apply, perks, and FAQs once your brand ambassador program starts scaling and receiving inbound interest. It’ll save time in shortlisting potential brand ambassadors and avoid your marketing team wasting their time in answering the same questions over and over again.
Step 3: Find and Partner With the Right Brand Ambassadors
If you’re already gaining momentum on social media through customers, check their profiles and ask those who meet your criteria (set in step two) to become a brand ambassador for your company. If you’re looking to convert influencers to brand ambassadors, check your highest-performing influencers and map them to your criteria.
Don’t make just about anyone who posts about you on social media your brand ambassador though. People might join for the money. Carefully examine how much someone aligns with your brand values, how often they have posted about your brand without being prompted, and how closely they meet your criteria.
You might need to proactively reach out to some customers, influencers, or employees with a personalized outreach message. Incentivize the receiver and mention all the perks of being a brand ambassador for your company.
Learn more: A Guide to Effective Influencer Outreach
Step 4: Maintain and Track Brand Ambassador Relationships
The last step is running your brand ambassador program like a well-oiled machine. Maintaining brand ambassador relationships is similar to influencer management.
Start a monthly newsletter to keep in touch with brand ambassadors and keep them updated on company news. Also consider adding your favorite brand ambassador posts to the email and encourage talking points and post ideas.
For example, Bolt adds example posts in their brand ambassador creative brief.
Keep encouraging your brand ambassadors by commenting on their posts, sending them gifts on birthdays and milestones, and boosting their content through your brand's social media. Little things can go a long way.
Along with maintaining ambassador relationships, keep tracking the return on investment from their partnership. Clear-cut attribution isn’t possible, but you can still track how many website visitors brand ambassadors brought you using UTM tags or Google Analytics.
Learn more: Calculate & Amplify ROI of Influencer Marketing
Data will help you revise your brand ambassador criteria and improve the overall ROI you get from your brand ambassador program.
Next, let’s look at some examples of companies killing it with their brand ambassador program.
3 Examples of Brand Ambassadorship in Action
No two brand ambassador programs are the same. But seeing some examples in action can help you determine which direction is right for you. Here are our top three picks for the best brand ambassador program examples with reasons why they work so well:
#1: Pura Vida
It’s impossible to mention brand ambassador program examples and not run into Pura Vida.
Why Pura Vida’s brand ambassador program works:
- Pura Vida has a top-tier strategy of combining its brand ambassador program with its affiliate program. They offer a 10% commission and a 20% discount to its brand ambassadors.
- Despite being sales-oriented, Pura Vida is selective about who gets to be its brand ambassador, making a tight-knit community of true fans.
- Their ambassador family is so large that Pura Vida has a dedicated Instagram handle to feature the best posts from its members — encouraging the brand ambassadors to produce better content to get featured.
Lululemon has one of the widest brand ambassador programs out there. They partner with all types of brand ambassadors — customers, employees, and influencers.
Why Lululemon’s brand ambassador program works:
- Lululemon has a strong emphasis on cultural alignment. They only partner with global and local brand ambassadors who reflect their brand values.
- Lululemon ambassadors are often Yoga instructors or fitness enthusiasts who wear their products not just online, but also talk about them offline — boosting word-of-mouth sales.
- Lululemon offers first dibs on product launches, mentorship opportunities, and increases exposure for its brand ambassadors. The mutually beneficial relationship makes the program so tempting that people have YouTube videos sharing tips on how to become a Lululemon brand ambassador.
#3: Peluka Salon
Peluka Salon is a hair brand with strong brand ambassador voices online. Its standout feature is how intricate and personal each brand ambassador’s story is in relation to the brand.
Why Peluka Salon’s brand ambassador program works:
- Peluka Salon has built a strong community of brand ambassadors who connect on a common cause — eradicating a stigma against alopecia. Fostering connection beyond their product results in people strongly associating with the brand and not just its merchandise.
- Peluka Salon doesn’t just encourage its brand ambassadors to post about its products. It shares their story in return and gives voice to their struggles and challenges.
- Peluka Salon started its brand ambassador program early and repurposed the ambassador-generated content library for its own social media handles — boosting brand ambassadors’ confidence while keeping their feed alive with UGC.
Learn more: Attract Quality User-Generated Content
Ready to Launch Your First Brand Ambassador Program?
You’re sitting on a pot of gold if you have the resources, budget, and influencer roots to hire brand ambassadors. They can level up your social media presence and take your influencer relationships to the next level.
Not so sure if brand ambassadorship is the right route for you? Chat with us, and we can help you get clarity!