As an undergraduate at Syracuse University I served as a Student Ambassador, Peer Advisor, Tour Guide and blogger for my home college (Visual and Performing Arts) and as a Global Ambassador for the SU Abroad Office. I was also approached to be a campus representative for a study abroad blogging site called Students Gone Global. I knew that through all these activities I was serving as an ambassador but that had never occurred to me, before the readings we had this week, was that I could also have been called a brand ambassador.
A brand ambassador is a marketing term referring to someone who promotes services or products for a company or organization. These ambassadors are meant to “be” the company: they are supposed to dress, talk and share the same values and ethics as the people they are representing.
Below is a combination of things I learned while serving as an ambassador and representative and insights from Britt Michaelian’s post, “How to Build a Fierce Loyalty for Your Brand” and Mack Collier’s post, “10 Things to Remember When Creating a Brand Ambassador Program”:
- Loyalty: If you treat your community well, people will want to become ambassadors for you. If you treat your ambassadors well they will do anything for you. Example: once I was given the title “Student Ambassador” I stopped complaining about showing up at events at 7AM and leaving after 5PM.
- Loyalty and Social Media: Michaelian brought up a really good point: “it is a beautiful thing that we can connect with people from all over the world in an instant on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ etc., but to meet face to face and connect in person brings the relationship another level. A level of loyalty that simply cannot exist when only online.” Example: at the beginning when SGG asked if I wanted to be a campus representative I said “of course!” without really thinking about it because who would know if I wasn’t living up to those duties?
- Research: Collier mentions the importance of knowing who the advocates are within your company: researching who’s always commenting, liking, sharing, interacting and asking questions will probably give you a clue as to who you should grab as an ambassador. Another trick would be to mention applications, if the people you’ve been keeping track of take the time and initiative to fill them out, chances are they’re really invested in your company. Example: I wouldn’t say no to any task I was given. No matter how much homework I had or when I had to be at work, if there was a prospective student interested in a tour, I’d volunteer.
- Exclusivity: This is very important. Everyone wants to feel like they are important and valued by the people he or she works or volunteers for; but not only that, not everyone in your community would be a good ambassador. Collier sums this up perfectly, “you want to weed out the customers that aren’t committed to the brand, or the program. The true advocates for your brand will already be doing much if not all of what you would require of them as members of the program.” This fits perfectly with another point Collier made, that it’s better to have, “10 truly passionate brand advocates than 10,000 members that are merely ‘meh’ toward the brand.”
- Acknowledgement: As Collier says, “we all love money, but for a true brand advocate they usually want other things.” Example: During the first year I volunteered for VPA I joked with family that what would perfect is if they started to pay me. Over time I came to realize that going to events was one of the best networking things I could do and it’s because of this that I was asked to be a Student Marshal for graduation.
These are just a handful of things that came to mind while reading about brand ambassadors. What are some other things people should know about ambassadors? Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever been an ambassador for a company and what were some of the pros and cons.