Brand ambassadors are an essential part of a sales and marketing strategy. They help give a necessary human element to a brand and can help with one-on-one interactions between a brand and a potential customer. Today we’re looking at the different types of brand ambassadors and how to become one. Cover photo by Matt Moloney.
What is a Brand Ambassador?
A brand ambassador is a fancy word for someone that publicly represents a company to promote its products and services. This takes many forms. The form that most of us are probably most familiar with is influencers who promote brands on social media. However, it is a wide-ranging profession that also includes spokespeople that represent companies at tradeshows. Like with influencers, brand ambassadors are often celebrities, or people with some level of recognition in a company’s field. However, it is definitely possible for anyone to become an ambassador with some solid strategy.
Online vs Offline
Online brand ambassadors will do typical influencer activities such as posting about a product on their Instagram. But they’ll also participate in other activities like writing customer reviews, posting on message boards, and inviting friends to like social media pages.
Meanwhile, an in-person ambassador will attend events like conferences or tradeshow often wearing a branded uniform or shirt. They hand out materials like pamphlets or stickers to event attendees and will provide samples or run tradeshow booths. They act as more traditional salespeople, while online ambassadors are essentially influencers.
What Companies Hire Brand Ambassadors?
Most modern companies use some form of a brand ambassador or influencer marketing, particularly if they are a business-to-consumer brand. If an individual can use a product or service, there is someone who can show off how to do that! Some brands are still more traditional in their marketing, but most have realized the value of connecting with people in a more human way. And it’s nothing new – celebrity endorsements have existed for as long as advertising has! The way that brand ambassadors work these days is more appealing to millennials and Gen Z, so it’s an essential step for companies trying to be relevant in the modern age.
What’s the Difference Between Brand Ambassadors and Affiliates?
One popular way of making money online is through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing boils down to referring traffic to a retailer’s website through links in your blog or social media, then receiving a cut of any products purchased. It helps to have some degree of influencer and to promote the brand. So how is that different than being a brand ambassador? While affiliate marketing can be lucrative for some people, almost anyone can become one. A brand ambassador tends to be a more serious contract. There is usually a decided-upon compensation amount for ambassadors, instead of a commission rate. Influencer marketing in general is not always about making a quick sale, but making people aware of brands. Meanwhile, affiliate marketing is purely focused on driving sales.
Step 1: Research Brands
In order to become a brand ambassador, you should find a brand that you mesh well with. Companies want to partner with individuals who match their values and their brand. After all, you’ll be representing them in public! A travel-related brand wants to work with people who are known for traveling and being outgoing. Finding a brand that you can be passionate about will make your career as a brand ambassador easier, as you will actually care about what you’re promoting – and it’ll show! If you’re already an engaged and active follower of the brand online, or if you’ve posted about them without being sponsored, then the match is even better.
Look for brands related your hobbies, products you already buy, and something you can be passionate about. Don’t look into brands with products and services you would never use.
Step 2: Build Your Following
While you don’t need to be a celebrity to be a brand ambassador, it helps to have a following of some kind. This doesn’t have to be millions of followers. It can be just a few thousand, as long as those followers are active and engaged with your content. Micro and Nano influencers are in high demand so that brands can laser-focus on audiences. It will be obvious to a brand when you have a loyal following. You’ll have a lot of likes, comments that are real and relevant, and high-quality photos on your posts. Also focus on creating a consistent brand for yourself. You’ll be able to build a larger following if you stick to a distinct personality and aesthetic, plus brands will instantly be able to see if your vibe matches what they’re looking for.
No matter what you do, keep it genuine. Brands will be able to tell if you’ve bought followers. Real engagement is the name of the game – not raw follower count.
Step 3: Contact the Brands
After building a following, you can start reaching out to the brands you want to work with. At this point your profiles should show off how good of a match you are. Simply sending a message to the social accounts of a brand can get you talking to the right person and getting your first partnerships. You can also join an influencer network in order to get matched with brands.
In terms of in-person opportunities, you can take advantage of local events and reach out to the companies that are going to be there. You can also approach an existing brand ambassador at one of these events to try to get an in.
There are also jobs you can apply for online on job sites like Indeed. Not every brand will want to take the informal route, so try to keep your options open!
Step 4: Keep It Going
Once you get your first brand ambassador gigs, you’ll want to seek out more. Usually these contracts are short-term, and you need to keep working in order to stay a brand ambassador. Once you’re able to land your first gigs, you can add those to your resume. If you have a successful campaign with a brand, then brands will be more likely to work with you in the future.
How to Be a Good Brand Ambassador
There are several things you need to keep in mind and keep up with in order to be a good brand ambassador.
- Understand your analytics: Be prepared to talk in a detailed fashion about your engagement rates, audience demographics, and conversion rate. This will be especially important with big brands.
- Follow FTC guidelines: There are rules around being a brand ambassador or influencer, such as using #ad in sponsored posts. Make sure to research and abide by these rules.
- Stay uncontroversial: While some brands might like someone with a little bit of edge, you’re best off if you don’t do or say anything controversial. Keep things professional on your public profiles and stay away from insults or opinions around politics and other divisive topics.
- Know when to say no: Not every brand that reaches out to you is a perfect match. While you can “fake it til you make it” to a certain degree, you’ll be miserable if you’re working with products you don’t feel any connection to.