Why you Should have a Brand Ambassador
As technology advances, marketing seems easier - but it’s actually much harder. The competition in most industries is more challenging than ever before. Almost anyone can log into a computer and create social media accounts and WordPress websites. One way that you can get ahead of your competition is by hiring and training brand ambassadors.

What is a Brand Ambassador?
A brand ambassador promotes your company in an effort to increase brand awareness and sales. It does not have to be a social media superstar influencer or a celebrity. A brand ambassador can be a volunteer, a freelancer, a part-timer, or even your existing full-time employees. Brand ambassador efforts can be as simple as sharing social media posts, or as complicated as attending neighborhood events and educating the public on your company mission. Generally, they are positive, energetic people who like to smile and won’t complain about wearing branded t-shirts!

What do Brand Ambassadors do?
The day-to-day life of a brand ambassador can mean something different at every company. Some brand ambassadors are digital-only freelancers and are paid every time they post about your brand on social media. Others are part-time or full-time employees who drive around town pinning flyers to telephone poles and communicating with other local businesses.

Being a successful brand ambassador means spreading the word about the company in any positive capacity. Charity work is a great way to not only help meaningful causes but also paint your company in a positive light. Take Medicare Plan Finder, for example. Medicare Plan Finder’s mission is to “serve the underserved” senior and Medicare-eligible population. Serving the underserved can mean a lot of different things, which is why their “brand ambassadors” are often out there cleaning up parks, handing out food to those who need it, and working with other nonprofit organizations around the world.

The Benefits of Having Brand Ambassadors
A brand ambassador can increase your influence and your audience in three main ways:

Positive reviews and referrals
Increased brand awareness
Reduced advertising spend

Reviews and referrals from brand ambassadors typically bring in stronger, “hotter” leads than other marketing efforts. Why? People trust their friends more than paid advertisements. Those leads are way more likely to convert than the leads you get from your paid Facebook advertisements. Plus, your brand ambassadors are way more likely to be successful in “spreading the word” about your company than your corporate marketing efforts are. Research shows that employees have about five times the social reach that corporate accounts do. Plus, brand ambassadors are often cheap, if not free! You can hire interns or recent college graduates to wear your branded t-shirts, hang your flyers, and post about you on social media at an hourly rate for just ten hours per week or less. That can be much cheaper than running Facebook and Google Adwords campaigns.

Can you Make your Employees Brand Ambassadors?
If you aren’t using your employees as brand ambassadors, you’re missing out on a huge, cheap marketing opportunity. G2 says that employees have an average of 1,092 social connections. Those connections aren’t just business followers - they are mostly loyal friends and family members. People generally look to their friends for opinions, ideas, and ways to spend their time before they look to corporations. When your employees share information about your company, you may be able to widen your audience more than you would by running corporate marketing campaigns.

If your employees aren’t automatically willing to act as brand ambassadors for you, they probably are not very invested in your company’s mission. Having employees who care is crucial to your overall success. In fact, if your employees like their jobs and talk about your company openly with their friends and family, they already are brand ambassadors! So, how do you take it a step further?

Start by handing out branded t-shirts, water bottles, hats, and more to your employees (at no cost). Everyone loves a free t-shirt, and the chances are that they will leave the house in it at least a handful of times. That’s free advertising! Plus, since they are employees who already know about the company mission, they can answer questions for anyone who sees their shirt and shows interest.

There may be some pitfalls of having your employees be your brand ambassadors. Some people do not like mixing their professional and personal lives (and that’s okay). You may run into issues with employees not being thrilled about the idea of parading your company around because it does eliminate some work-life balance. However, those employees can contribute in other ways. People who do not want to be brand ambassadors for you during nights and weekends can contribute by attending local events during weekdays on your company’s behalf! Not outgoing enough? That’s okay, too. They can sit at their desks and strategize ways that your more extroverted employees can get the word out.

How to Start an Ambassador Program
Starting an ambassador program is easier than trying to hire full-time employees. Start by meeting with your marketing team, if you have one, and discussing what types of marketing you may need your ambassadors to help with (social media, events, relationship-building, guerilla marketing, etc.). Then, asses what you can afford and how you want to hire (college interns, freelancers, part-time, etc.).

Post about your ambassador program on job sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. You can also consider running low-budget Facebook advertisements about your new program targeting college students and recent graduates who need work. Ambassador programs provide great resume-building opportunities for young 20-somethings looking for a break!

First and foremost, remember that your ambassadors need to care about your company almost as much as you do. You can’t expect them to have as much passion for it as if they were the CEO, but recognize that people who can stand behind your mission are way more likely to work hard to promote it. Passionate brand ambassadors may be the missing piece of your marketing puzzle. It’s time to start the conversation!

Author's Bio: 

MedicarePlanFinder.com has a mission to "serve the underserved" Medicare-eligible population. We have thousands of agents across 38 states who meet with Medicare-eligible beneficiaries to discuss their plan options and help them pick the best plans with an unbiased approach.