Brand advocates offer opportunity for startups and small businesses. They’re the people who, of their own accord, increase the visibility of your business or startup by promoting your product(s) or service(s). Since people are more likely to buy a product or use a service recommended by a friend, these brand ambassadors are your cheapest, most direct form of advertisement and goodwill.
But simply being thankful for their promotion isn’t enough; after a while, the euphoria wears off and they’ll stop promoting…unless you give them a reason to continue. Why not give them the option to become a brand ambassador?
To effectively use brand advocates/ambassadors, you must have a brand. Not just a business. A “brand” is not just a mark that identifies your company; though it is important to be easily recognized, a true brand harbors a collection of associations that directly add to the value consumers see in your products or services.
- Think about it: What do you get when you purchase a product from, say,
Converse, Apple, or BMW (to name a few) besides the actual product? I bet you
don’t feel you’re only purchasing a new pair of shoes (or clothes or glasses), a new computer (phone, tablet, etc.), or a new car. You feel you’re buying an alternative mode of individual expression, the calling card of an elite club of erudite thinkers and innovators, the apex of performance fused to luxury. Or at least I do (or think I would). Perhaps those brands don’t resonate with you the same as they do for me, but there are brands that do, else you wouldn’t mind using Bing over Google, eating McDonald’s over In-N-Out. You get the idea.
- Every interaction consumers have with your business, whether online, in-store, through advertising, etc., must correspond with the message behind your brand.
The more value someone finds in your products or services, the more likely they’ll share their experience with their friends. While traditional brand ambassadors are paid, many companies are finding creative ways to keep people enthused (and thus promoting) without direct payment. Creative brand ambassador programs incentivize people to share by granting them access to exclusive deals, products, or services. Evernote has a flourishing ambassador program, but if you dig around a little, you’ll find many companies have their own variations.