How brand ambassadors can grow your brand

“Life is better with friends,” says a common adage, and with brands: Business is better with fans.

And contrary to what you may think, not all brand influencers, fans, and ambassadors expect to be paid.

You might wonder: Why would they bother talking us up when there’s nothing in it for them?

Brand advocates will reap plenty of benefits. They expand their professional network, gain experience in product development and sales, build their own brands, and fine-tune their knowledge of marketing strategy.

Why use a brand advocate?

They humanize your brand.

Brand advocates literally put a face on your business, which can make you more appealing to a wider variety of potential customers and fans. It’s the difference between a living, breathing person wandering around your open house wearing one of your T-shirts versus a table in the lobby with a stack of T-shirts folded.

They increase your social reach and website traffic.

Brand advocates create buzz. They might market you through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram. They have sway over their own networks, so their voice carries weight, thereby strengthening your brand’s credibility among their audience.

All that boosted networking drives more traffic to your website: readers to your blog, shoppers to your catalog, browsers to your service pages. Having all those posts linking back to your site boosts your SEO too.

They create a positive brand image over a wider area.

Brand advocates use the most important, cost-effective sales tool available nowadays—word-of-mouth—to mitigate bad reviews and misconceptions, and re-emphasize the value of your brand and the overall service experience. As a small brand, you’re likely spread pretty thin; having brand advocates helps you to reach a wider audience.

5 types of people who can help you grow your brand

There are a lot of terms out there, often used interchangeably, so it’s important to understand the different kinds of fans your brand can have.

Entrepreneur Magazine highlights the difference between the 5 types of people who may act as spokespeople for your brand, paid and unpaid:

1. Fans

We’re all fans of something brand-related, and that means we’re loyal to the brand, we’re happy customers, and we recommend the brand to our circle. What separates a fan from an advocate is that a fan wants to be recognized for his or her fandom by the brand itself. Fans want to be elevated to advocates, which you can do by rewarding them.

2. Advocates

Advocates love your brand and they will help you spread the word at any given opportunity. While their followings may be smaller, their loyalty surpasses the level of someone who is receiving compensation. This infographic helps explain their importance.

Brand Advocates small business

3. Bloggers

Depending on the number of readers, bloggers can be very effective at helping brands grow. Whether they focus on a hobby relating to your brand or write in a more official capacity, their reach can be huge and the credibility they add can expand your brand’s reach. Usually, you would pay them by way of exchange, as in money, freebies, recognition, etc.

4. Brand ambassadors

Brand ambassadors are given inside knowledge of your brand, paid on a retainer basis, are considered experts on the topic relating to your brand, and loudly profess to be ambassadors.

Brand ambassadors can also do short-term gigs on a rotating basis, like contract work. They might show up to events, wearing your T-shirts and handing out free samples. Or they might greet people at the door of your shop, oversee part of an event, all while wearing your brand proudly.

Employees can act as brand ambassadors. After all, they understand the ins and outs of your business better than anyone. They can help you to communicate and energize the brand, but that requires one thing from you: Transparency. 

The Harris Poll recently found that when employees and leaders have open communication, employees are more likely to see a brighter future for the company. Staff encouraged by the direction of the company is heading is much more likely to inspire deep trust in customers and create productive, authentic connections.

Being a brand ambassador has become a lucrative side hustle for Millennials, so if that’s your target market, get on board. An op-ed in Budgets Are Sexy estimates that a person can make $15-50 per hour just for attending events, some boasting an average of $700 per week.

So expect to shell out some cash for active ambassadors, but they can definitely elevate your event to the next level.

5. Influencers

Often celebrities (think Kardashian, Beckham, or some YouTuber my 14-year-old niece follows), influencers are most focused on protecting their own brands. However, they will write about brands they endorse, are usually paid high sums, and have a large and engaged audience, especially on social media. They would typically be hired for short-term campaigns.

How do we get started?

Wherever you find them and whatever your budget, attracting fans, advocates, and brand ambassadors starts with one thing: a strong brand.

Strong brands are bolstered by compelling and attractive visuals and powerful messaging, a robust and forward-moving company culture, and a clearly defined target market. (Not sure you’ve got that? Get in touch.)

Photo Credit: longboardmarketing Flickr via Compfight cc

Management consultant and brand strategist for small teams. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

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