Image by Phil Coffman

Image by Phil Coffman

You get an email or voicemail message from someone you don’t know. If you’re like me, you likely delete the email without reading it. The voicemail suffers the same fate — immediate deletion. Yet your reaction changes dramatically when it’s from someone you know. This, in a nutshell, explains the power of brand ambassadors. Launch your own brand ambassador program today with these 6 tips.

Only 33% of buyers trust the brand but 90% of customers trust product or service recommendations from people they know
— Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey

#1 Determine your goals

Brand ambassadors are everyday customers who love your product or service. Ultimately, though, they are only truly useful if they know and understand your goals. You might even identify particular groups for different purposes: some might be better influencers of brand awareness, while others could provide more leverage for long-term promotion of a new product launch or more detail about a specific service or solution they’ve used.

#2 Get to know your ambassadors

Simply selecting the people on social media with lots of followers who like your brand isn’t going to drive the most effective brand ambassador program. You need to find the top customers or clients, consultants, and business partners who will be proud of their affiliation with your brand.

Have an application that questions how the potential ambassador wants to get involved, why they are applying, and why they love your brand. You want to understand their reasons for being ambassadors. They might be building their resume, looking for free stuff or the inside scoop, or trying to get hired as consultants.

#3 Develop a program structure

You’ve done the legwork to find the right influencers to invite into your brand ambassador program. Yet you still want to offer some parameters. In launching your program consider developing a code of conduct, instituting milestones, and clear expectations.

For instance, Hootsuite, which has grown exponentially due to its ambassadors, expects advocacy, content sharing, creating a stronger regional presence and even hosting events.

#4 Identify incentives

Loyal customers may be driven to share their enthusiasm for your product or service for their own personal or professional reasons. At the same time, offering free access to new feature or product testing or VIP events can provide an incentive to ambassadors.

It’s unlikely you want to get involved with financially rewarding your brand ambassadors — potential clients might doubt the credibility of a paid ambassador. Yet, you may be able to offer compensation in the form of professional affiliation with your brand, partnerships at conferences, or sharing guest posts on each other’s blogs.

 #5 Cultivate communication

The brand ambassador program depends on mutual trust. Keep your advocates in the know. They should not find out about an important new product feature or solution launch from external sources. They want to be in the inner circle — treat them as the partners you want them to be.

Identify their best channels of communication to offer feedback and criticism. Make sure that your ambassadors know that their opinions matter — positive and negative — and encourage them to offer suggested improvements.

#6 Quantify success

The brand ambassador program demands consistent monitoring and measuring. You want your launch to be deliberate . Determine in advance what metrics you might use to gauge success. Set up the means to track that data.

It can also go a long way to recognize ambassadors’ successes and offer praise. Identify standout performance on a page of your site devoted to the program or in a weekly communication to your ambassadors. Personal recognition can help deepen an individual’s relationship with your brand, which can only further amplify enthusiasm as an advocate.