One of the most effective marketing tools at any company’s disposal is the creation of Brand Ambassadors – but why?

Our Marketing Executive, Beth Jeremy, takes a look at not only how you can turn each member of your team into an effective brand ambassador but also why it should be the backbone of your marketing strategy.

What is a brand ambassador?

Well, in order to understand what a brand ambassador is, let’s first take a look at what brand is and why it would need an ambassador.

brand (brænd) noun: the perceived emotional corporate image of an organisation, product or service as a whole. [thanks to justcreative.com for this fab definition!]

ambassador (æmbæsədəʳ) noun: an important official residing in a foreign territory with the express duty to represent his or her own country’s interests there.

So, with this in mind, a brand ambassador is simply an individual going outside of the organisation (into the “foreign territory” of the outside world, be it meeting clients, talking to friends and family, posting on social media) to represent the “perceived emotional corporate image” of your organisation.

To put this another way, think of the duties our diplomats and ambassadors have to undertake. At the most critical, they protect our nation’s interest in times of conflict to ensure peace. For your organisation this might mean resolving competition conflicts or appeasing difficult or discontent customers. But the Foreign Office are also responsible for overseas trade missions, drumming up new business, sourcing the best international suppliers, and negotiating the best tax agreements. Now we would always want our international relations to be run by the most competent people, and the people with our country’s best interests genuinely at heart, wouldn’t we? So why wouldn’t we strive to do the same with our businesses?

Is the role of brand ambassador just for the sales or marketing team?

To understand the critical importance of brand ambassadors, you need to understand this one simple truth: EVERYONE has the potential to be a brand ambassador. And EVERYONE should be. From marketing executives to factory foremen; from delivery drivers to chief operating executives; whether you’re a multinational with 15,000 employees or a sole trader, making every member of staff into a brand ambassador should be your number one priority.

What does a brand ambassador do?

A brand ambassador champions your business to the outside world. The aim is to create staff who will, unsolicited, mention in passing to a relative, friend, or even a stranger on the commute how much they enjoy working for your organisation. If your team feel so passionate about your product or service that they are happy to recommend you, and put their name to your organisation, then this gives endorsement that it would take vast amounts of money and time invested in a marketing campaign to achieve.

And every member of your staff talks to people, and has contact with the outside world, whether they are customer facing or not. We all have people who value our opinion, so we all have a great power in the recommendations we give to our peers. And for this reason, we all have the power to become strong brand ambassadors.

Is it expensive to create brand ambassadors?

Creating brand ambassadors is all about getting your staff to believe in your brand. To believe in it enough to want to shout about it, celebrate it, defend it and champion it outside of their usual 9-5. If you want to achieve this, you need happy staff. But is this necessarily expensive?

Well, a recent study by Deloitte found that whilst financial incentives were what tended to entice millennials into professions, their staff retention was largely down to morale, rather than pay. This, the study found, was conditional upon the flexible working, diversity in the workplace and a commitment to corporate social responsibility. In other words, running an ethical company is far more important, particularly to under-35s, than paying large wages.

So does this have to cost a lot of money? Well, possibly, if you are committed to investing in the loyalty of your staff. But it is just that – investment, rather than expense. Because the personal recommendation afforded by an enthused and content workforce is a much more effective marketing weapon than firefighting disgruntled staff horror stories in the press (just think of Sports Direct or Amazon!) with expensive PR.

And that’s the power of brand ambassadors.

So how can I turn my staff into brand ambassadors?

Internal communication is key. Make sure that whatever is going on in your organisation, whether it’s new product releases, changes in management, the latest bake sale for charity or updates to your processes. Nobody likes feeling as if they are the last to know, and if your staff consistently feel excluded from decision making or information sharing, they will not feel like part of your brand.

Another vital factor is unity. As a Christian, in my non-work life I’m acutely aware that disunity and discord can have a hugely detrimental impact on external perception. And as we defined “brand” above, it’s the “perceived emotional corporate image” of an organisation – so it’s critical to give outsiders looking in a sense of unity so that what they perceive is in line with what you want them to see. So team bonding is not only an effective tool for human resources and productivity, but also has a role to play in the marketing function of your business.

So yes, you should be encouraging team away days, Friday night drinks and departmental 10k runs – it all helps create happy staff and this in turn will market your business!

Can I be a brand ambassador as a sole trader?

Quite simply – you already are. The backbone of your marketing, through social media, personal meetings, trade shows or however you choose to market, is essentially a personal recommendation. Champion your brand in any way that you can and don’t be afraid to put your name to it!

I hope you’ve found this little insight helpful. Creating brand ambassadors is something I feel really passionate about for effective marketing. Please follow our blog for more articles on our CloudyCreative tips and tricks to market your organisation effectively.