Guest Article By: Kayla Metcalfe
The rise of social media has given the everyday individual the power to generate endless content. It seems that average people are becoming “Instagram models” or “iphoneographers” and fostering partnerships with different brands. (Hello Triangl girls and Skinny Teatox sellers?) With the excess amount of content floating around, how does a brand differentiate itself from its competition?
Meet the brand ambassador! A brand ambassador is an individual that focuses on creating a memorable experience with consumers, and helps to ensure the brands values are communicated through everything they do. They do this through different experiential marketing initiatives, including branded giveaways, sampling, contests, lead generation, and social media. These brand loyalists have established credibility and authority among peers and consumers. A great brand ambassador is able to cut through all the marketing clutter – and say the right things about a company or brand with more credibility than an ad campaign. The video below from Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) details how the right ambassador campaign can be utilized as a successful marketing tool.
I’ve been working infield as a Brand Ambassador for several months and have seen it firsthand, consumers genuinely trust and believe what we have to say about a product or service because we “humanize” the interaction. A good experiential marketing campaign connects with the consumer through a more authentic and “real” experience than an ad campaign. We are exposed to both the bad and good of a brand, and are able to inspire and educate about a product without sales being the main focus. I once represented an insurance company outside of popular sports games. We weren’t there to sell people on this brand, or even provide key messaging about their services. Our goal was to connect with consumers, give away branded merch and take photos with fans to ensure that when and if consumers were considering a new insurance company, ours would be top of mind due to the positive experience they had at the game.
We have the ability to tap into micro communities your brand may not yet have access to. There are many social media tools available, which give us the power to share content within our different social circles. This allows the ambassador to influence followers and the target audience to want what you’re selling, (from someone they already trust.) Traditional advertisements are being tuned out, but a genuine love for a product or service is hard to fake. I find myself constantly recommending products to friends and family that I have previously worked with. Experiencing the positives and overcoming the negatives of a product creates a devotion to it that can be genuinely communicated to others.
Word-of-mouth may be the most impactful, cost effective form of marketing. The idea is that these brand evangelists honestly love and want to amplify the said brands presence. This happened to me with a popular juice brand. The constant exposure to the product turned my friends as well as myself into brand advocates. While it is common for these types of people to be compensated, often they are paid in “perks”. This can be anything from free gear to branded materials to travel compensation, etc. After each shift I was given leftover product, which meant my house was fully stocked whenever friends would visit. This influenced my friends to try (and eventually love) the brand, generating new business.
Brand advocates are quickly becoming a critical tool for a successful marketing campaign, which can largely be attributed to the shift towards transparency and authenticity in marketing, and the lack there-of in traditional campaigns. However, an opposing argument can be made; as the use of qualified brand ambassadors grows, does their influence, authenticity, and relevancy decrease? Do we eventually just fade into all the clutter and become as generic as any other campaign?
Let me know what you think in the comments!
Kayla is a recent graduate of Humber College specializing in public relations, event management and experiential marketing. Based in Toronto, and currently focusing on the world of content marketing and event coordinating, you can find her running around backstage at many of the events in the city. An avid foodie and animal enthusiast with a passion for music, you will find Kayla spending her downtime checking out various restaurants across the GTA, playing at the dog park, or planning her next festival. You can connect with her on Instagram or LinkedIn.