Upside-Down Thinking by Patric Fransko
by Patric Fransko
August 16th, 2017

Brand Ambassadors: Age-Old Strategy for a Digital Age 

If you have done any amount of reading around the topic of marketing in the past couple of years, you’ve undoubtedly come across the term “brand ambassador” as a strategy. This may be a new term to you, but the idea around it is as old as business itself. Simply, a brand ambassador is someone that spreads the good news about your product or service to the people they are in contact with. Historically, this has been referred to as “word of mouth” marketing, and it is usually recognized as one of the best forms of marketing you can have. So what has changed? Why the new terminology around something that has been known and used for a long time. 

Quite simply, the Internet and social media happened. I have spoken for many years about the power to reach the influencer for your particular product or service within any given friendship circle. Each person in a particular circle is known as being an expert at something. Whether it be cooking, home design, car care, etc. That person is the one in that group the others look to for advice on that particular topic. They are what I call the “top of the pyramid” for this topic in their group.

For example, if you offer an automotive product or service, you would want to reach the “Car Guy (or Girl)” of a given set of friends. That person is typically the go-to person for car-related questions among that group. If you are looking for a mechanic or a new car wash, you might ask this person for their advice or a recommendation. So, if you can reach and convert that top-of-pyramid person to believe in what you are offering, you stand a good chance to convert the whole pyramid as a result.

As I stated in the opening paragraph, understanding this and using it to grow your business by influencing these individuals is nothing new. The new buzzwords for these individuals is “brand ambassador.” However, there are some fundamental changes that have occurred in the past five years that make this more important to understand and integrate into your business strategy. In the past, these influencers might only have had the ability to influence the buying decisions of 10, 25 or maybe even 100 people if they were really connected. With the current state of the internet, these influencers easily have the ability to reach 100, 1000 or more people.

Understanding who the brand ambassadors are for your particular product or service in your target marketplace is key. Once you identify these individuals, you should reach out to connect with them to discuss your particular product or service. The goal is to have this influencer have a positive feeling about your offering(s) and be willing to tell others in their sphere of influence about you. However, it’s sometimes not that simple.

People are beginning to understand the leverage that they hold and the value they have to someone like you, so getting a shout-out from a brand ambassador may cost you. For example, if you owned a dry cleaning service and you happened to know a client who dressed impeccably and was very influential in the community, you might offer to do their dry cleaning for free in exchange for them posting something about your service. If they did this, the number of people that might potentially give your company a chance as a result would be well worth you doing the influencer’s dry cleaning for free.

However, I must close this article with one critical aspect of utilizing brand ambassadors. Your product or service must be really good, or this program will not work. A good brand ambassador is not going to risk their reputation with those following them to promote a sub-par product, regardless of what you paid them or offered them for free. This marketing strategy, or any marketing strategy for that matter, cannot overcome an inferior product or service in the long run. However, if you offer a great product or service and can identify the influencers in your particular category, this strategy can have a huge impact on your business growth.

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