HOW TO TURN EMPLOYEES
INTO BRAND AMBASSADORS
“Successful brands, whether big or small, need ambassadors to trumpet their products and services. Product evangelists have been around longer than the web, while celebrity endorsements and all types of brand promoters have existed for a long time.”
fact, some historians suggest celebrity endorsements started in the 18th century with royals promoting products manufactured by Wedgwood ceramics. Finding people who can represent you is a task – they are more than influencers. Influencers do not have to be passionate about the product or company; they impact by mentioning or suggesting others take a look.
A recent study by Zuberance and Convince&Convert, however, found influencers do not have as big an impact as satisfied happy customers. The best brand ambassadors are loyal customers and developing them requires some work.
Brand ambassadors want to engage with the brand and they should be encouraged. The size of the company, the number of locations, and the geographical reach are all elements that need to be considered. Developing a strategy to meet the needs of these advocates and grow the community in which they can thrive is essential to long term brand success. Unlike paid influencers, ambassadors are passionate, supportive and tireless defenders of the brand. Outreach programs to influencers have become popular and to some degree should be considered and worked if suitable, but not as a replacement for building your brand ambassadors.
BY THE NUMBERS
There is a huge economic benefit from loyal customers – these brand advocates not only bring new customers, they, themselves, bring more profits to the company. Studies show [by who?] that getting a previous customer to rebuy costs less than acquiring a new client and each repeat customer buys more per order. A small increase in retention of repeat customers therefore means a bigger profit.
SO HOW DO WE BUILD
First you need to determine who they are. According to the Dachis Group, which monitors 30,000 brands and 100,000 social media accounts across all of the major networks, brand advocates represent .001 percent of users that initiate 5.3 percent of all social activities and 8.3 percent of social conversations. The group sees six categories of brand advocates – one of which is the brand ambassador which it describes as, “ elite customers who spread the word about a brand in their daily lives”.
While this separation helps isolate elements – we would argue that each is part of a successful brand advocate/ambassador.
Yes, each individual ambassador may share only a few of these personality types, but they are rarely just one. So forgetting the semantics, we can use these five suggested ways to build our own ambassadors.
HARNESS THE PASSION AND PROVIDE THE TOOLS. Passion for your brand is a pre requisite for any ambassador. To get them to promote your company, as opposed to a competitor, you need to engage with them and provide them with tools to help build you more loyal repeat customers. Discounts they can share, but exclusive to them, always seem to work. Google’s beta programs with exclusive invites to share are a good example. The street vendors who hand out free or discounted passes have been around since before the web and have successfully managed to implement this model.
PROVIDE EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES FOR THEM TO ENGAGE WITH OTHERS.
Whether you are a restaurant, a dentist, lawyer, plumber or a group of location- based businesses you want to attract more customers and the cost effectiveness of having repeat customers evangelizing for you is a given. Some of your supports will be great at helping organizing events where you can shine. They need activities to keep them motivated so work with them. Community events are a great place to have them represent you and share their enthusiasm with other soon-to- be new clients.
LISTEN TO THEIR FEEDBACK AND IDEAS.
Feedback from loyal customers can provide invaluable insights in to improving your brand and its offerings. An advocate will offer ideas – true not all will be brilliant but the ones that work can drive all sorts of new business and strengthen the brand. If there are problems they can offer answers. Remember these are loyal people and they are not complaining just for a bad first impression. Their feedback can help your business improve and address problems before they become serious. Ideas for new products or services coming from the people who use your business most often and are likely to purchase the new product should be listened too – after all, extra purchases cannot be shunned, even if they do have an initial outlay.
HELP THEM EDUCATE OTHERS ABOUT YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES.
We listen to our friends whether they have a recommendation or a complaint about a product and more than any influencing group, friends and family hold sway. So brand ambassadors with large numbers of family and friends are of a premium. Location -based businesses can really take advantage of this, as most of the friends and family are generally close by. And the power of your connection will have them bring the visiting ones by too.
PREPARE THEM TO BE BRAND PROTECTORS.
Having supporters when things go wrong is always helpful. True ambassadors will be there to help reply to bad information and voice their descent to others who do not share the same high opinion of you. A high volume of positive reviews and communication takes away from most negative incidents, so use this to your advantage and keep ambassadors in the loop of what is happening so they can be there to help out. Having these brand protectors can be very useful, not only do they rally around the brand, they are still bringing in new customers who can also counter bad press or other negative opinions.
SUPPORT THEIR CUSTOMER SERVICE EFFORTS.
Brand ambassadors can also act as customer service support. Their knowledge of your products can have them reach out to questions online or in person. Make them aware of any ways they can help – they will want to do this. How many times have you helped your circle of friends with a computer program or a phone app or a recipe? We enjoy sharing our knowledge – so keep your loyal customers well informed. A restaurant can have a tasting menu to promote new menu items, a healthcare professional can be part of a community event with knowledgeable support staff or have a loyal customer hand out flyers or discount coupons.
Research shows brand advocates habitually share information about the products they use and are thought leaders in their ever- expanding social circles – here the benefit of the online realm to create actual foot traffic is important.
BRAND AMBASSADORS ARE
83% MORE LIKELY TO SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT A PRODUCT THAN TYPICAL WEB USERS, AND 50% MORE LIKELY TO INFLUENCE A PURCHASE.
EMPLOYEES AS BRAND AMBASSADORS
Just as loyal customers make good brand advocates, employees must be brand ambassadors. Your employees are your front line, so you truly want them to engage with customers in a positive manner. Employees have a big role in delivering on the brand promises and companies need properly designed and executed employee recognition programs that can encourage and reward the behaviors that reinforce the brand.
“A great way to engage employees is to encourage them to share and lobby on behalf of the brand online. However, before you launch the proactive army of bloggers, Facebookers or Tweeters – you need to make sure you have a social media policy in place. A social media policy should be high priority for your brand, because sometimes even well- meaning employees can severely damage your company’s online reputation,”
Social MediaToday reported. The media policy should be unified and go beyond social media. Employees should know what they can and cannot speak about. Clear instructions make for better understanding and implementation. Customer as ambassadors may be harder to control what is said, but anything that can be done should be done.
FIGURE AND CONTENT CREDITS
Figure 1: Convice&Convert (http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-infographics/social-media-influencers-versus-brand-advocates-infographic/)
Figure 2: Neilsen Chart (http://www.marketingcharts.com/wp/television/which-forms-of-advertising-do-consumers-trust-and-act-on-the-most-36767/
Figure 3: DachisGroup (http://dachisgroup.com/infographic-an-insider-look-at-brand-advocacy/)
Figure 4: http://60secondmarketer.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/digital-marketing-trio.jpg
Figure 5: http://60secondmarketer.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/digital-marketing-trio.jpg
Figure 6: Industries for brand advocates, (http://noahrickun.com/5-sure-fire-ways-to-make-customers-your-brand-advocates-part-2/industries-for-brand-advocates/
Figure 7: Undercover Recruiter, (http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/how-to-turn-disengaged-employees-brand-ambassadors-infographic/)
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