Daily Archives: December 5, 2013

5 Important Things to Know About Brand Ambassadors

Image Courtesy of Beth Kanter

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”:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.

 

My Experience Building a Social Brand & Ambassador Program

This week in #CMGR class we read about social brands and building ambassador programs, which are two topics I consider myself being familiar with. In fall 2012, during my sophomore year in college, I enrolled in IDS (idea, design, technology and startups) 401. The IDS program is a hands-on experience that guides you through idea curation and execution. After completing all three classes, I now have a startup company, Soulscarf that focuses on giving back.

Each soulscarf comes with the above hanging clothing tag.

Each soulscarf comes with the above hanging clothing tag.

Soulscarf is a scarf company and we donate 20% of the proceeds to the charity that corresponds with the color heart on your tag. We just hit our one year anniversary (yay!). Although we are growing, we are no where near where we aspire to be. Each day, I learn more and more and I have a feeling that my learning process is going to be never ending.

While reading Britt Michaelian’s piece, I was able to connect with what he was saying. Michaelian brought up a lot of good points about how social brands connect with their audience and in my opinion, everything he said was correct. I found that not only do social brands connect with their audience, but we also connect with other social brands. We believe that helping others is the key to success. For example, TOMS recently launched the TOMS marketplace. A marketplace full of social brands where customers can shop their products. By creating this marketplace, TOMS has given social brands a new selling avenue as well as a new window of opportunity.

I have also learned that social brands are willing to share more information about their company to other social brands. When speaking with another social brand startup, we usually end up sharing every detail. Our “secret sauce” is not a secret. We want other social brands to be just as successful as we are.

As a startup, having an ambassador program is an opportunity that I jumped on. Mack Collier wrote a piece that explains how to build a successful ambassador program. I also agree on everything that Collier wrote. Here at Soulscarf, we have an ambassador program that we call “Campus Reps.” The Soulscarf Campus Representatives act as a liaison between their school and Soulscarf. They have their own email portal and are also featured on our website. When a new product comes out, they get a sneak peak and also a free sample.

When building the Campus Rep program, I wanted to start small and gather reps from a concentrated area. I started in my home state of Michigan and was able to work with a rep from every large university. Right away, I noticed that most of my sales were coming from Michigan. I believe that having a majority of our reps from Michigan as well as having grown up in Michigan gave Soulscarf the opportunity to have vast growth within those areas.

Building a social brand is something you need to be extremely passionate about in order to succeed.  Appropriate content and communication are a must and should not be overlooked. You are not just representing your brand, but you are also representing the cause(s) that you give back to.

Below are some of my favorite social goods. They’re perfect gifts that keep on giving for the holidays!

Flamboyant Body Cream from Tiossan. Price: $38.00

Flamboyant Body Cream from Tiossan. Price: $38.00

Cranberry Infinity soulscarf from Soulscarf. Price: $44.00

Cranberry Infinity soulscarf from Soulscarf. Price: $44.00

Charcoal Suede Pop Desert Wedges from TOMS. Price: $89.00

Charcoal Suede Pop Desert Wedges from TOMS. Price: $89.00

Poppy hat from Krochet Kids.

Poppy hat from Krochet Kids. Price: $37.95