AMBASSADOR MARKETING

How to Launch a Brand Ambassador Program: An A-Z Guide

David Morneau

By David Morneau
13 min READ | Mar 3 2022

A brand ambassador program is like having an army of spokespeople willing to vouch for your company. 90% of shoppers already trust their peers more than branded content, so why shouldn’t you leverage that statistic?

This article teaches you how to launch a brand ambassador program to reach your marketing goals seamlessly.

We’ll also discuss the benefits you can expect and the differences between this program and an influencer marketing campaign, with plenty of examples and practical lessons.

Keep reading below.

What Is a Brand Ambassador Program?

A brand ambassador program is a specific marketing strategy that entails creating long-term relationships with brand ambassadors – spokespeople who vouch for your brand.

Remember: You are not simply handing your company’s communication to your potential ambassadors. You still need to fuel this campaign with a plan.

That plan should be based on:

  • Specific goals, whether you want to increase sales, build your reputation, or create awareness.
  • Tight-knit relationships with your brand ambassadors, who should perform various duties: write social media messages, take part in offline events, try your products, and so forth.

Why Should I Launch a Brand Ambassador Program?

Successful brand ambassador programs have many benefits. We’ll analyze them below with plenty of examples to understand how these programs work.

Increased Awareness

Like influencers, brand ambassadors’ main communication channels are social media platforms.

Your ambassadors will help you leverage social media platforms, especially if they already have considerable followings. Promoting your company to their audience naturally builds your credibility and opens your company to a new market.

FIGS brand ambassador community
FIGS has created a community of brand ambassadors among medical professionals: Source

Pro tip: Your ambassadors may use different channels, which is perfectly okay as long as your prospects use the same platforms.

For example, your potential customers might not be browsing Instagram for three hours per day but might attend conferences and events.

Lesson learned: That’s why you should always select the right ambassadors starting from your marketing goals – not the other way around.

Loyal Community

This type of program helps you build a loyal brand community. That represents an advantage because:

  • Happy customers are cheaper than new prospects; their purchases are also more expensive.
  • This community creates natural user-generated content (UGC), such as online reviews, or uses your hashtags.
  • You will have the support of trustworthy people amidst a PR or economic crisis.
North Face brand ambassador community
North Face has created a community of ambassadors supporting it: Source

Warning: Not all brand ambassadors can rally loyal communities around them.

You need someone:

  • Charismatic
  • Expert
  • Credible
  • Close to their followers

Lesson learned: Among the many types of influencers, those with smaller followings have higher engagement rates because they spend more time interacting with people. If you want to build a strong brand community, you need someone who can create those tight-knit, authentic relationships.

Increased Trust

Brand ambassadors are (or should be) already perceived as reliable experts in their fields; when you partner with these people, their credibility will transfer to your brand too.

Depending on your marketing goals, building authority and trust can be important for you if:

  • You run a new company or want to reach an untapped market.
  • You are launching a new product or feature that people may not understand because it’s very complex.
  • Your products solve a customers’ need innovatively. Conversely, they solve a need people didn’t know they had.
  • You have been going through a PR crisis and are trying to regain lost customers.

Note: Solving a need people didn’t realize they have requires a different type of message than regaining authority after a PR crisis.

Phone loops brand ambassador community
Phone Loops uses influencers to showcase the loops that keep your phone stable: Source

So:

Lessons learned: Develop your social media communication plan starting from your goals.

Persuasive Evergreen Content

Effective brand ambassadors know their audience, which is also your audience. Therefore, they can tap into these insights to create persuasive content that convinces people to:

  • Try your products
  • Accept your perspective
  • Become interested in a new feature
  • And so forth

Pro tip: Leverage brand ambassadors for social listening; heed their feedback, and their content will be high-quality and evergreen.

That means you can repost it for years, adapting and curating it for all your channels. Of course, you would ideally want to create a long-term relationship with your brand ambassadors; that’s one thing that differentiates them from influencers. But even so, the content they create now should be tapped into and capitalized to its fullest potential.

Lesson learned: Use the content that brand ambassadors create on different channels: your website, marketing emails, social media accounts, ads, and whatever else fits your goals.

Increased Sales

Your brand ambassadors:

  • Transfer credibility and authority to your brand.
  • Give you direct access to an untapped market.
  • Connect you with the correct audience.
  • Create relevant, evergreen content for that audience.

These are the right ingredients to boost sales and overcome any plateaus.

Lesson learned: Choose brand ambassadors to meet all the above objectives, which are the precursors of increased sales.

Affordable Marketing Efforts

Brand ambassadors are cost-effective because:

  • They already use your products. Therefore, you won’t have to invest time and resources in educating them about your company. They may already have some effective ideas to improve communication with your audience.
  • They typically work for free. Brand ambassadors aren’t usually paid. And even if you may reward them with exclusive products, deals, or events – all those expenses will be negligible compared to the overall ROI they bring you.
Chima Steak House brand ambassador
Brand ambassador for Chima Steak House: Source

Of course, you will have to invest some money in helping your ambassadors devise the right messages and sending them your products. Depending on your strategy, you may have to provide them transportation to and from certain events.

But the overall cost of all these marketing efforts is well below what you would spend for an ad campaign with the same results.

Lesson learned: Find someone who will work for your brand out of a passion for your products or values. That’s how you can ensure they will be okay with working relatively pro bono for your company in the long term.

Brand Ambassador vs. Influencer

Influencers can be brand ambassadors, but not all of them – and vice-versa. Some ambassadors have very reduced online followings to count as influencers.

However, your brand ambassadors will be more committed to your company in the long run. They are more passionate about your products and use them actively.

And they are most often cheaper than influencers.

Here’s the perfect example of all that:

Richard Fanders is a UK driving instructor who produces relevant content for students and drivers who want to improve their techniques.

  • He is an influencer for two insurance companies: All his videos include the paid promotion tag to insurance companies Collingwood and Confused. Each time someone buys one of the Collingwood and Confused products, Richard Fanders gets a commission.
Collingwood driving instructor ambassador
  • He is a brand ambassador for his driving school: The two above companies pay Mr. Fanders a commission and have been working with him for years. However, Richard is not a brand ambassador for them; he is an ambassador for his driving school, which he supports and recommends pro bono:
Conquer driving information
Image sources

That said, here’s a quick comparison between influencers and brand ambassadors:

Influencers vs. brand ambassadors

Types of Brand Ambassador Programs

There are six types of ambassador programs to consider depending on what you want to achieve ultimately:

1. Milestone-Based: Best for Control

This program resembles an influencer marketing campaign the most. Your brand ambassadors have a specific checklist with deadlines they must accomplish within a certain period (e.g., five posts per week, one event per month, etc.)

Lululemon brand ambassador
Lululemon brand ambassador taking part in the brand’s campaign events: Source

Pros:

  • Versatile strategy based on a contract
  • Increased control over the communication and results
  • Easy to amend the plan

Cons:

  • May seem too transactional for your brand ambassadors

2. Affiliate: Best for Sales

Affiliate programs are effective in boosting your sales. Your ambassadors aim to get many people to purchase your products using their affiliate links. That, in turn, gives them part of the profit.

Pro tip: You can also offer incentives to motivate affiliate brand ambassadors to reach a new sales tier.

Pros:

  • Increased awareness
  • Improved social media presence
  • Boosted sales

Cons:

  • The relationship is more transactional, which means your audience might trust your ambassadors’ content less
  • Not best for building brand loyalty

3. Informal (Customer-Based): Best for Loyalty

Informal programs are open to anybody passionate about your brand and products. You won’t sign contracts or impose ambassador requirements; you will rely on your loyal spokespeople to create word of mouth. As a result, you will increase your reputation and credibility and get more referrals.

Xbox brand ambassador
Xbox has one of the best ambassador program examples that showcase a tight-knit community of players: Source

Pros:

  • Social proof
  • Increased referrals
  • Relevant content that motivates
  • Can create a sense of community

Cons:

  • The absence of a strategy can lead to poor or inconsistent results
  • Difficult to monitor results
  • Difficult to optimize

4. Employee-Based: Best for Persuasion

Employee-based programs are the most persuasive because:

  • Your employee advocates are very credible; they wouldn’t work for your company if they wouldn’t believe in it.
  • Your employees have intimate insights into your products, strategy, and company culture. Therefore, they know which features to praise or which functionalities to present.
General eletric brand ambassador
Amanda Fisher is one of the ambassadors in General Electric’s employee ambassador program: Source

Pros:

  • Increased authenticity
  • Insightful messages

Cons:

  • The relationship may break if they move on to a different company

5. Expert-Based: Best for Authority

Expert-based ambassador programs are a version of the customer-based program. But in this case, you will have to find experts who use your products and are passionate about them. This strategy builds wide-scale acceptance and credibility, boosting your sales.

Sephora brand ambassador
Example of a dermatologist recommending skincare products for different skin conditions found at Sephora: Source

Pros:

  • Increased authority
  • Strong, unique selling point that sets you apart from the competition
  • Increased sales

Cons:

  • May be difficult to find

6. College-Based: Best for Young Audiences

If you want to attract a younger target audience, college ambassadors will help you. Besides, you can easily structure your campaign on a specific interest.

Pro tip: Use offline events and guerrilla marketing tactics to generate more buzz around your products.

Celsius brand ambassador
Celsius, like many other brands, organizes college brand ambassador programs: Source

Pros:

  • Increased social media awareness
  • Easy to segment your audience
  • Free word-of-mouth and buzz
  • Social proof

Cons:

  • Not best for older age groups
  • Require increased offline presence

How to Set Up a Brand Ambassador Program

Now that you know the benefits and different types of brand ambassador programs, you can start setting up your own:

1. Define Goals and KPIs

All marketing campaigns need to start with clear goals because these goals are the results you want to achieve. And knowing where you want to get helps you set up the right strategy.

You will also realize which key performance indicators (KPIs) you want to track to reach those results.

Here are two examples to help you start:

KPIs for brand awareness include:

  • Reach: How many people see your content? This variable can be measured through website traffic, social media engagement, and email list growth.
  • Engagement: How engaged are those who see your content? Are they liking, sharing, commenting, or taking other actions?
  • Sentiment: What is the general tone of the feedback you’re getting? Positive, negative, or neutral?
  • Brand recall: When people think of your brand, do they remember your content? This variable can be measured through brand awareness surveys.

KPIs for lead generation include:

  • Lead volume: How many leads are you generating?
  • Lead quality: How qualified are those leads? Do they match your ideal customer profile?
  • Lead conversion rate: How many of those leads are converting into customers? Use discount codes to keep track of sales.

2. Set Ambassador Selection Criteria

This point resembles creating a customer persona, but you will create an ambassador persona in this case. Contouring an ideal brand ambassador will also help you establish specific guidelines or expectations for your campaign.

Establish:

  • Your ambassadors’ preferred experience and relationship with your product/brand
  • The preferred social media platforms they should use
  • The ideal follower size
  • Ideal values and beliefs
  • Preferred professional experience
  • The type of content they should create
  • Where they should promote your brand (offline and online), and how often
  • Your preferred monitoring/check-in options
North Face brand ambassador
Ice climber Andres Marin as an ambassador for North Face: Source

3. Find Your Brand Ambassadors

After you have outlined your ambassadors’ ideal profiles, it’s time to find potential brand ambassadors that fit those requirements. Here’s what you can do:

  • Analyze customer data: Check your databases and find your most loyal customers. Then, see if they fit your ambassador profile.
  • Analyze your employee profiles: Your employees can be the most convincing voices for your brand, and vetting their profiles should be easy enough.
  • Conduct social media searches to find your biggest advocates: These people usually engage with your brand, test your products, and generate word-of-mouth online. To do that, browse your posts, search your brand’s name online or check your hashtags.
  • Publish an ambassador application form: Send a form that popularizes your program, calling for prospective ambassadors in marketing emails or post-purchase messages. You should also publish this form on your website. Then, analyze the applications and pick the best candidates.
  • Use an influencer marketing platform: inBeat can connect you with the top 1% of content creators with the highest engagement rates. You can develop long-term relationships with them so they can become effective ambassadors.
Finding brand ambassadors with inBeat
inBeat helps you find the right ambassadors for your brand in seconds: Source

4. Run Your Campaign

After finding the right ambassadors, running your campaign is the next logical step. Keep a close relationship with your ambassadors to ensure the right content is disseminated to the right audience.

Centralize the metrics below in a spreadsheet:

  • Number of posts regarding your brand
  • Number of likes per post
  • Number of Instagram comments
  • Engagement rate calculator for Instagram
  • Additional traffic to your website via referral links on the ambassador’s bio
  • Increase in sales
  • Discount codes
  • Post URLs

Here are some tools you can use:

  • Google Analytics
  • Mid-campaign questionnaires and surveys
  • End-campaign surveys

5. Reward Your Ambassadors

Recognizing someone’s achievements is essential to keep them motivated. Otherwise, your brand ambassadors will feel undervalued or not good enough to be part of your team.

The first step to recognizing your ambassadors’ achievements is personally sending them a message or email. Congratulate them, but also ask them how they did it. Their experience and feedback could be valuable for other ambassadors.

Next, offer incentives to keep them engaged:

  • Store credit
  • Free products
  • Access to exclusive parties
  • Gift cards
Dr Zenovia brand ambassador
Example of an event Dr. Zenovia arranged for its brand ambassadors: Source

Also, consider offering them recognition and exposure:

  • Thank you notes or phone calls
  • Shout-outs
  • Mentions on your website
  • Asking them for their input

Scale Up Your Brand Ambassador Program

Once you have started your brand ambassador program, it’s time to ensure everything runs smoothly:

  • Offer onboarding and in-depth briefs
  • Make yourself available and truly connect with your ambassadors
  • Encourage feedback
  • Allow your ambassadors to be open about your brand when addressing their audience
  • Optimize your campaign based on the available results

Once everything is on track, you can consider scaling up your ambassador campaign. For example, you can use influencer marketing to complement your brand ambassador program; these content creators have broader followings and can create more social proof.

Pro tip: inBeat is a great way to find these influencers, check their engagement rates, and suss out fake followers using our free toolkit.

Alternatively, you can find content creators that produce credible and expert user-generated content for your brand. Our UGC Studio is just one click away for you to try.

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