If you want to reach a wider audience and be more believable in your marketing, there are few ways that are more effective than launching a brand ambassador program. But how do you do it and who makes a good conference ambassador?
Want to know a little secret that drives all event planners crazy? They can’t be everywhere at once. Sure, deep down we all know the truth of that comment but it’s something most of us wish we could change, along with securing more time in the day and maybe finding a way to function without sleep.
While cloning yourself is still (currently) out of the question, you can build an army of event ambassadors that could help you reach more people, increase your attendance, and do more with less.
What’s a Brand Ambassador?
If you’ve ever loved a product or service so much that you refer others to that company and you would never think to buy from a competitor, you are/were a brand ambassador. A brand ambassador shares their love of the event, product, or service with others and is immensely loyal.
There are two main types of brand ambassadors – paid and unpaid. Paid brand ambassadors can be celebrity spokespeople, employees, or even paid industry influencers who are compensated in some way for what they say about your event. Turn on the radio and listen to some of the commercials. You’ll often hear a DJ plugging a business. They’re a paid brand ambassador. They may not be reading off of a script but they’ve been compensated for their endorsement.
On the other hand, unpaid brand ambassadors speak freely about what they love but since they’re not compensated for their efforts, they are not only more believed by the audience but also less predictable. While most brand ambassadors are loyal, you can disappoint them, so keep this in mind.
There can be official brand ambassadors. These are people you know are representing your event. Then there are those who speak highly of you without you officially sanctioning it. Unofficial brand ambassadors are merely fans. The easiest way to secure this latter group is through providing an amazing experience. With the former group, there are things you’ll want to put in place.
How to Build Brand Ambassadors for Your Event
Even if you decide to pay your ambassadors, there’s some vetting that must occur first. These people will become your face and voice for part of your audience. Here’s how to secure an army of loyal followers and be smart while you’re doing it:
- Look for ideal qualities and a following. These ideals include things like a rudimentary knowledge of marketing. A loyal brand ambassador is great. One who knows how to post to Facebook and Instagram, even better. You don’t have time to train them on social media and marketing, so look for social proof that they already get it.
- Scan their streams. These ambassadors aren’t your employees so you can’t dictate what they post. But if the topics they post in their stream are not in keeping with the mission of your event, it doesn’t matter how ‘into’ your event they are. Don’t make them a formal event ambassador.
- Look for interaction with their audience. Ideally, your ambassadors would interact with their audience, not just merely post on their social media bullhorn.
- Stick with those who post regularly. People who post regularly will give you the consistency you want in a brand ambassador. You don’t want someone who dabbles here and there. If you don’t look for that, maybe they’ll post about your event before it happens, maybe not.
- Have a good reputation in your industry. Ambassadors are not one size fits all. Make sure they are relevant and have a following in your industry or area. If you plan multiple events in different industries or with different ideal attendees, you’ll want a different set of brand ambassadors for each.
How to Create a Brand Ambassador Program that Works
Now that you know who to look for, it’s important to create a brand ambassador program for your event that people will want to be a part of. The following ideas needn’t be used in totality, or in order, but they do comprise the makings of a great brand ambassador’s program.
- Create a formal program. This means an onboarding program most of all. When people agree to represent you, you want them to get excited about it. Sending them something even if it’s just a welcome email, goes a long way to making them feel valued. The better you make them feel, the more they’ll talk about it.
- Give them something. In addition to the onboarding program, give them something. This could be an electronic badge, special name tag (if they’re coming to your event) or some pre-event swag. The Skimm gives out coffee cups and sleep masks (among other things) to its loyal readers.
- Provide them something to share with their tribe. This could be first-to-know knowledge or a discount code for your event. Social Media Marketing World gave loyal past attendees discount codes for their friends as part of an early-bird discount campaign. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s exclusive to them. A discount code to share with their audience doesn’t carry much exclusivity if someone can visit a landing page off of a Facebook ad and get the same discount.
- Let them in. Let them know what’s coming up and what they can share with their group. Make them feel like an insider and they’ll be loyal.
- Foster communication. Don’t allow long periods of time to go by without contact. You want these ambassadors to be in the know. Set a tickler to touch base and share cool secrets or information periodically. Keep the program going year round - not just a few weeks before your event.
- Ask their opinion. Everyone has one. Most of us like to share them. Plus, those considered in an outcome often feel invested in its success.
Brand ambassadors for your event can widen your audience reach and help increase your attendance. They can get your attendees excited and build engagement as well. Finally, brand ambassadors are almost always more believable than your marketing. Taking the time to cultivate an army of brand ambassadors can help you do so much you’ll wonder why you didn’t make time to do it sooner.
Additional Resources on Brand Ambassadors and Influencers