Learning the Lingo is a series of posts that will investigate marketing terms, ideas and strategies. Our topic today: brand ambassadors.
You might be asking, "What is a brand ambassador? It sounds very formal. Do I need to invest a lot of money and resources into it? Do you think Beyoncé will promote my product or business on the red carpet if she becomes my brand ambassador?"
I have good news and bad news. The good news: it’s not that formal and usually no extra compensation is required. The bad news: Beyoncé probably will not mention your product. (Although, that’s a fantastic goal to have - never give up on it.)
A brand ambassador is anybody that can sell your business or product by engaging with customers, instead of selling it to them like a typical sales person would. These are people who are connected with your business and committed to seeing it succeed.
It could be an employee. If you invest in their training, knowledge of a product, and are engaged with them, they will be invested in your business. Your employees will be able to share that excitement with consumers. According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer (slide 23), 52% of people trust a “regular employee.” A CEO is trusted by only 43% of people.
Let me use myself as an example. For five years, I worked at a book store. All of the employees loved the products that surrounded us. We took pride in being able to share this affinity for books, music, movies, or a good cup of coffee with our customers.
When I became a bookseller, I remember being concerned that there would be a lot of pressure to find ways to upsell additional items to customers. However, when a customer and I started discussing a shared interest, suggesting additional items became second nature. It was an organic part of the conversation, not something I was required to do.
I was even more surprised when customers came back to talk to me about my recommendations. They respected my opinion about that product. If they received a newsletter of selected book reviews, they would still ask me what I thought of the book.
I was a brand ambassador. I didn’t know it. No one told me I should try to be one. I was engaging with customers about my commitment to my employer’s product.
Another way for you to cultivate brand ambassadors is to turn to your repeat customers. In the same Edelman study, 62% of people trust “a person like yourself.” The only people that were trusted higher were “technical experts (66%)” and “academics (67%).”
This is a huge resource to your business. These are customers that respect and trust your business enough to keep coming back. Take advantage of this. Nurture and cultivate this relationship.
Earlier this year, Lithium (a social media software company) released an infographic relating just how powerful word-of-mouth is in the world of social media marketing. They found that:
- 50% of sales are influenced through word-of-mouth
- 81% of consumers are influenced by their friends’ social media activity
- 1,000 customers can create 500,000 conversations
Those numbers are just based on social media figures, but if they are sharing that online, just imagine what they are saying to other people when they are face-to-face. These numbers also reiterate what we shared in a blog post earlier this month.
So who knows, maybe the day when Beyoncé plugs your business on live TV isn’t as far away as you think.
Nick Pizzolato is the Marketing Content Manager at Wicked Local Media Solutions. For questions, topics for future blogs, or to share your favorite moment from the film “Back to the Future,” email him at email@example.com. He is a brand ambassador for Coca-Cola and Marvel Comics.