Let's start with a straightforward definition of what a brand ambassador is - it’s a person, especially a celebrity, who is paid to endorse or promote a particular company's products or services. The keywords are Brand, Paid and Promote. Tick all three and you’ll have built a business case to engage an ambassador.
Brand. An Ambassador will draw attention to your brand with their profile - what they do, say or how they appear. Appointing an Ambassador is, in effect, cross pollinating audiences. Everyone today is a Brand. The Ambassador lends their brand to you, while you lend your brand to them.
The Brand that has the lowerest awareness gains the most benefit. A obvious example of this at work is with movies. Actors will, for a significant fee, appear in (and lend their name to) major productions - and audiences will queue based on the previous work of those actors. The Actor has the biggest brand (at least at launch). Humans have a tremendous desire for predictability, so there is less risk in trialling something new when we recognise at least some part of what is being offered.
The test is: who’s brand is bigger? If you are a leader in your category, it’s likely that you’ll offer more to your ambassador than your ambassador will bring towards you. Equally, if you are a new entrant that not many people know, a good ambassador will bring the masses. Like George Clooney did for Nespresso.
Paid. It’s easy to acknowledge that this is a financial transaction and that you’re paying for someone to do or say nice things about your product or service. When all happens as expected, it could be great. You can determine the likely ROMI and decide if the fit is/was worthwhile. For us, we like to start with assesing Audience - what can this ambassador add to our reach and at what level of engagement? Using a combination of metrics we can assign a value.
The flip side is the risk. When something goes wrong it can be catastrophic. Celebrities fall from grace like a gum tree drops branches - without warning. Contracts should always include integrity clauses, while a proper risk assessment and an issues management contingency plan should be prepared at the outset (just in case).
Promote. Ambassadorships only work if you have a budget to promote. You need to reach your audience and also engage your Ambassador’s following. It’s not enough to make an announcement. The standard rules of marketing and advertising continue to apply.
From experience we know that most Ambassadors often go beyond the basics to do their best in promoting the product but they aren’t a product expert. They don't have your knowledge - they are doing a job and can only work within the parameters of what has been provided. High-profiles are maintained by being very active, meaning that you are not their primary focus.
So, your brand must do all of the heavy lifting. Ambassadors are great when you continue to do all of the work.
In snapshot - you need a brand ambassador when:
- You’re looking for brand growth from a new audience which the Ambassador can easily reach. The pearl that you are looking for - an Ambassador with a higher profile than your brand.
- Your financial model must fund both the ambassador and marketing activity. An ambassador alone can't deliver results. You need to reach people before you can influence them. If you can’t afford it all, don’t do it.
- The ambassador is part of a promotional plan that is driven by you. Ambassadors are not (at least by default) white knights riding-in to save the day. You will need to provide the steer, the route, the script and the outfit. Just as you would without them.
Want more? We haven’t mentioned fit with your brand or discussed the multitude of alternatives, including advocates and influencers. We have much more to share. Get in touch.