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Word of Mouth Toolbox: Ambassador Programs

Blog post theme of today: back to basics! There are a few things that we’ve got in our word of mouth toolbox that are tried and true tactics, so we thought we’d revisit some and share them with you. One of our most powerful tools as word of mouth marketers is the creation and implementation of an ambassador program. We’ve seen it in action, helping create some serious online buzz for a number of clients.

So what the heck is it?

An ambassador program is a way to leverage the very idea behind word of mouth marketing: the passing of information from one person to the next. Ambassadors in and of themselves are people who speak on behalf of a brand. Sometimes they are celebs, but most of the time they are normal folks. It has been said time and time again that the most powerful recommendations come from friends and family, so enthusiasts’ opinions obviously matter to marketers. Ambassadors will talk about their love for a brand or service on their own, but it is our job to find those people and magnify their voice. We bring structure and organization to a group of enthusiasts, encouraging them to do a number of things, which include posting positive reviews online, attending offline events, and passing along coupons or news.

Brand Love

Think about it. Some of the most potent brands are chalk full of people who will go to the ends of the earth to show their love. Apple. Starbucks. Whole Foods. Harley Davidson. Coca Cola. Louis Vuitton. You can’t escape those enthusiasts. They are in your face whether you like it or not.

Let’s go get those brand ambassadors!

The thing about brand enthusiasts is that they are passionate for a reason. It could be the strength of the product (Apple), the value of the service (Whole Foods), or the way the brand experience makes consumers feel (Starbucks or Louis Vuitton). It is important to have a great offering in order to have enthusiasts. You can’t fake brand love. Great brands like these reward their enthusiasts up front, regardless of if they write a positive review online or tell someone about a new product. And even more so, its important to build relationships with your enthusiasts before asking anything of them.

Well, okay! Now what?

Consider what you’ll need for an ambassador program. Each is drastically different, and should correlate with a larger campaign idea or a set of objectives you’d like to accomplish. The main thing you’ve got to keep in mind is that ambassador programs should be designed to be mutually beneficial. Participants must find a reason to be a part of the program.

Why should they sign up? In an ideal world, just telling others about their love would be enough, but most often, it isn’t. Make them feel special by letting them in on breaking news, asking for their opinion about new products, providing them with coupons or free products, or giving them VIP access. Then, provide them with ways to help you: direct them to places online where they can review you, lead them to your Facebook page where they can “like” and share their opinion, or have them talk to a potential customer about why they love you.

The main key to a successful ambassador program is to locate your enthusiasts, and reward them upfront for their love. Then, make it easy for them to share their thoughts, and reward them for that, too.

Here are some general things you’ll need:

  • Objectives – What are your goals? Do you want event attendance, positive reviews, general feedback?
  • Outreach Plan – How many enthusiasts are you going to need? How are you going to reach out to them? Communication is KEY here.
  • Timeline – How long will the program last? Is it a 6 month campaign or a lifetime program?
  • Tasks – Exactly what will you have the participants “do”.
  • Rewards & Incentives – The most obvious part: thanking people for their love.
  • Tracking – Know what your ambassadors are up to!

Ready to take the leap? We’d be happy to help you locate your brand enthusiasts and build some meaningful relationships with them.

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