If you take a look at the personalities that big brands are scouting to become brand ambassadors, the lineup starts to look a lot like the red carpet for last night's 88th Academy Awards. Think Chris Hemsworth for TAG Heuer, Rihanna for Puma, Chiara Ferragni (of The Blonde Salad fame) for Pantene, and Drake for the Toronto Raptors. These well-known names and faces have a ready army of fans and have achieved a high-level status across several social circles. Companies are starting to leverage brand ambassadors to further their influencer marketing efforts in order to reach new people in more ways than a quality product or service could on its own.
It seems like being a brand ambassador is a new craze when, in fact, empowered recommendations and relationships have been created using the power of word-of-mouth for centuries. You don't need a host of celebrities to create a comprehensive stream of new leads and empower customers to champion for your brand. A successful marketing campaign relies on more than lights and cameras, the word-of-mouth action is what counts. If you’re wondering which segment of your customers will make for the best brand ambassadors, here are the categories you should be looking to fill with award-worthy brand ambassadors:
What would an award ceremony be without this category? This spot is reserved for the Martin Scorseses and Steven Spielbergs of your network. Consider the fans and customers that have the personality and the insight to place your brand in front of the right set of eyes. Brand ambassadors worthy of the Best Director badge don’t just lead the pack, they clear a path and join each member of their network on a journey. They aren’t afraid to advocate for your brand, champion your service, and keep members of their network on the right track.
Customer in a Lead-Acquiring Role
Of course your company doesn’t have any favorite customers, but if you absolutely had to choose one segment to nurture, they would probably be the kind of customers that could naturally build intrigue for your brand. These customers will scrounge even the coldest marketing fields for warm leads, Leonardo Dicaprio style. Empowered brand ambassadors will be able to share exciting brand information and updates on behalf of your company while driving rich leads to your company. Plus, leads acquired this way close faster and stay longer.
Most Connected Customers
Referral programs provide a great opportunity for your customers to forge new contacts, but every good referral marketing program includes the kind of customers that everyone already knows. If your company has an influencer that could easily be swapped into the Kevin Bacon game with their astonishingly minimal degree of separation number, then they’re well-connected. These customers have great in-person skills, but are just as respected and sought after online. Well-connected brand ambassadors will know how to find information and they’ll be the first one to share it. Your brand will be able to earn a few cool points just by association.
Most Invigorated Network
Nothing feels better than discovering powerful groups that have the ability to catapult your brand. Actually, the only thing better is one customer that links you to their network of equally engaged and excited friends. If you publicly awarded this segment, they’d run onstage with tears streaming down their face and talk until the live orchestra played them offstage. In other words, members of this category have an immediate and relentless desire for new information (and an equally strong reaction when they receive it).
Outstanding Word-of-Mouth Performance
Some of your brand ambassadors won’t be into the glitz and glam of becoming a member of an exclusive group, you’ll need people on the ground that aren’t afraid to ring a few bells or send a few emails on your behalf. That’s where the power of word-of-mouth kicks in. Pinpointing people that can reach engaged and curious leads is like discovering a gold mine for your referral marketing program. Word-of-mouth gatekeepers give your brand the referral nominations and nods that will lead to a complex referral network.
And the award goes to...
A study by Wharton School of Business revealed 83% of customers are willing to provide referrals, but only 29% of those customers actually do. You’ll need an outstanding group of vocal, informed, and engaged brand ambassadors to close that gap. Instead of praising your fans, clients, and customers from the corner office, referral marketing programs allow you to reward them in real life. Running a successful referral marketing program is a lot like winning your first Oscar statuette, it can validate your hard work and help spread the word to the masses.