Daily Archives: April 9, 2013

How to Create a Brand Ambassador Program by Selecting the Right Brand Ambassadors

Brand ambassador programs are the ice cream to apple pie, the free movie on a transatlantic flight, the t-shirt gun to sporting events. None of these items are necessary for the functionality of the actual events themselves, but their existence makes them that much better. A brand ambassador program, though not crucial to a company’s functionality, can significantly enhance the experience offered by the company.

In his post 10 Things To Remember When Creating a Brand Ambassador Program, Mack Collier explores the most important factors of creating and maintaining an ambassador program to add that special spice of experience into what the company has to offer. These ten items consist of:

1 – Spread the word internally as well as externally.

2 – Research, research, research.

3 – Start small, grow big.

4 – Make membership exclusive.

5 – Connect with your advocates and create ways for them to connect with each other.

6 – Pay your ambassadors.

7 – Give your advocates direct access to the brand.

8 – Create a feedback loop between the brand ambassadors, and the brand.

9 – Give your ambassadors the tools to create something amazing.

10 – Transfer ownership of the program from the brand, to its ambassadors.

Concentrating on items 7-10, the importance of the actual brand ambassadors over the program itself is incredibly apparent. A company could create the best brand ambassador program this side of Pluto, but without exceptional brand ambassadors to breathe life into that program, it might as well not exist.

In the post What to Look for in the Best Brand Ambassadors, Shelly Justice examines some of the qualities that a company should look for in its attempt to “staff” its exceptional brand ambassador program. Some of the qualities expressed by Justice are particularly apt to satisfying terms 7-10 explored by Collier.

First and foremost, a brand ambassador should “share the company’s philosophy”. While this may seem like a given, its importance cannot be understated. In order for someone to appropriately act as an ambassador for a company, he or she should be breathing the same brand-filled air as the company itself, enthralled by the purpose of the brand, obsessive about its exceptional products. To convey a love for a brand online, the passion for it in real life should be 10x as big.

Second, they should “embrace innovation”. Brand ambassadors will be tasked with cutting through the thick fog of stuff on the internet to convey a message to select groups of people. As is true now, and will become increasingly important over time, this skill will take a bit of innovation and creativity on part of the brand ambassador. Is the ambassador capable of harnessing emerging technologies to better spread the word? Can he or she identify new ways of using old technologies to create an exceptional brand experience for customers and advocates of the brand everywhere? These are considerable topics to be explored when selecting brand ambassadors.

The last item of the list that I’d like to explore is that the brand ambassadors “are passionate and have a strong personality”. In order to discuss the brand and brand promotion with the company, other brand ambassadors, and consumers and advocates alike, brand ambassadors must have strong personalities. This trait, in tandem with the two aforementioned from Justice’s list, rounds out the necessary components of a brand ambassador by stressing the importance of the enthusiasm and capability in conveying that enthusiasm in a brand ambassador.

In order for a company to give its advocates direct access to the brand, create a feedback look between the company and the brand ambassadors, give ambassadors the tools to create something, and transfer ownership of the program to the ambassadors, these traits, among others, are absolutely necessary.

#CMGRclass Moderator: Ambassador Programs

photo

 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulbrigham/8596883041/)

This week I was the moderator for the #cmgrclass Google+ community. It was my duty to generate discussion among the group as it pertains to class material. The first example I presented to the class dealt with crisis management. It found it to be fitting because one thing we’ve learned this week is that in recruiting advocates, you must “cultivate authentic relationships.” Wegmans took a risk when the company decided to create a hash tag during the time of Hurricane Sandy to stay connected with its audience. Carol Kelly said she felt, “it was effective for Wegmans. I think they did a good job of keeping the customers appraised of the situation which gave their customers confidence in them.”

I tackled the issue of what to avoid when establishing a brand ambassador program. I also, with other articles, communicate how to spot a brand ambassador program and how to see value in existing programs. I also provided examples of popular brand ambassador programs, which seemed to resonate with the class. Through providing examples, my classmates were to identify programs they’ve witnessed on campus or elsewhere and express how they, too, have been involved in advocating for a brand.

Something I found to be important was understanding how to launch a successful brand ambassador program for small businesses and start-up companies. Sonny Gold mentioned that, “[it was a] great article that outlines great steps for setting up an ambassador program. I think creating a lifestyle is huge, your brand truly has to be a lifestyle in order for it to be successful.” I found this article to be particularly helpful to someone like me who comes from an entry-level point-of-view.

I encouraged the class to seek outside examples to answer the chosen questions. I know I personally had a difficult time identifying a brand ambassador program and explaining the importance of what it was until I began researching for this assignment. I did expect the group to be more responsive, but I understand at this point in the semester it’s crunch time.  I found that people were more interested in making individual posts rather than contributing to class discussion.

I feel my take away message is that brand ambassador programs are an essential and significant component of commercial success. Without the implementation of brand advocates, the brand has to rely on digital platforms to stay connected with its members. Brands are for people, and the more we invest in our audience, the more our audience will have faith in what CMs do and be more inclined to commit!

The Power of Relationship Blogging Partnerships

blogging partner

Photo by eliselovesprada

According to Dictionary.com the definition of a blog is “a web site containing the writer’s experience, observation, opinion, etc., and often images and links to other Web sites.”  But in today’s blogosphere many people and organizations are taking the ideas and benefits around blogging a little deeper by expanding their blogging reach through incorporating the concept of Relationship Blogging.  In the article 5 golden rules for relationship blogging the author sites that relationship blogging is a method of blog marketing by which positive relationships are created.  He goes on to explain that it is all about building good “social” relationships that can help increase trust and build credibility for your website.

So how does one build great Relationship Blogging Partnerships?

In the article Nine Tips for Better Blogging Partnerships the author explains his ideas around developing a collaborative blogging enterprise.

The flowing are some of his tips:

  • Edit each others work…if one is looking for quality…this is a must
  • Form a Publishing Schedule…always a good idea, and partners help keep each other on track
  • Social media times two…the social media component is a key to Relationship Blogging
  • Respect each others opinions…remember, the concept of writing about one’s opinion is the cornerstone of blogging

While this author works in close proximity with his blogging partner, the fact is that many blogging partners may never meet in person.  Therefore, it is of even greater importance that there are goals set directly regarding the idea of building a strong relationship foundation that is based on trust and honesty.  The author of the article How to start a blog partnership suggests that it is wise to make  a point of actually speaking to blogging partners and always taking the relationship slow.

Mutually Beneficial Relationships

Soglammedia states that there are over 1.5 million new blog posts each day, and 77% of active internet users today read blogs.  They see business owners and PR firms reaching out to more and more influential bloggers to promote products and services.  That is precisely why relationship blogging partnerships have the ability to offer everyone benefits,  for example, gaining a larger audience.  The blogging space is large and filled with people interested in sharing their expertise.  This creates an avenue to generate real, tangible value for organizations looking to capitalize on the marketing side of blogs.

Creating blogging relationships sounds like a smart idea to me.  It is a solid way to help increase brand awareness and capitalize on social media exposure in a more dynamic way.  After all, two heads, (or more) are better than one!

We talked about the positive aspects of a blogging partnership, but what problems can you for see with this type of relationship?