How to Staff and Structure to Become a Fan-Centric Brand

by Mack Collier

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First, please read this post on 10 Things to Remember When Creating a Brand Ambassador Program.

This post is based on the framework that I introduced in my book Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans.  So if you already have a copy, this post relates to Chapter 9.  The framework discussed in this post is independent of  whether or not your company has a brand ambassador program.  It can work with or without one.

There are two many teams to focus on creating and inter-relating:

1 – The Brand Advisory Panel.  This is an internal team within your brand made up primarily of select employees.

2 – The Customer Advisory Panel.  This is an external team made up primarily of selected customers.

The key is that both of these groups have their own responsibilities, but they also work together and are in constant contact.

Core Responsibilities:

Brand Advisory Panel:

  • Working with the CAP (Customer Advisory Panel) to ensure that it receives all relevant information from the brand
  • Works with the CAP to ensure a flow of feedback in both directions
  • Works to distribute all relevant customer feedback from the CAP within the brand to make sure that the feedback is distributed to the areas within the brand that are best suited to act on that information.
  • Works within the brand to create a structure so that employees that connect directly with customers are able to collaborate and share ideas
  • Responsible for educating employees on how to properly communicate with customers, including handling complaints, etc

Customer Advisory Panel:

  • Ensuring that the brand hears and understands the voice of the customer
  • Works with the BAP to ensure a flow of feedback in both directions
  • Provides the BAP with all relevant feedback from customers, including complaints as well as praise
  • Receives feedback from the BAP based on previously provided feedback from the CAP as well as new information, and communicates feedback to customers as appropriate

Basically, both groups are designed to encouraged a flow of feedback and information.  The CAP connects with customers directly and receives feedback from them.  This feedback is then relayed to the BAP.  The BAP then takes that feedback from the CAP and distributes it internally within the brand as appropriate, and/or supplies the CAP with feedback based on its feedback.  By facilitating this flow of information from the brand to the customer and vice versa, both brand and customer has a better understanding of each other.  Which means the brand can more effectively market to the customer, design products and services it is more likely to purchase, etc.

How to Staff the Brand Advisory Panel and the Customer Advisory Panel

To a great degree, the size of both the BAP and CAP is a direct function of the brand’s resources.  There are a few considerations regardless of the available resources:

1 – There should be at least one employee who is a member of the CAP and there should be at least one customer that is a member of the BAP.  For example, you want a brand employee to be a member of the CAP so that employee can work with the customers that are a part of the CAP to give them the brand’s point of view.  Likewise, you want a customer to be a member of the BAP to ensure that the voice of the customer is heard and understood by the BAP at all times.

2 – If you have a dedicated Brand Ambassador Program, the BAP will oversee this program.

3 – Customers who are selected to the CAP should be considered at minimum part-time employees and should be compensated.

I cover this process in much greater detail in the book including a breakdown of the exact employee roles on both the BAP and CAP, and how to vet potential customer candidates for the CAP.

But the main points to remember if you want to create a similar structure for your brand:

1 – Create an internal (brand-side) and external (customer-side) group, each of which is responsible for collecting feedback from the brand/customer and relaying it to the other group, and vice versa.

2 – Have a specific feedback flow within your brand, so that your brand can take feedback from your customer group and communicate that feedback internally to the area within your brand that is best suited to act on that feedback.

3 – Work with your customer group to ensure that the brand’s point of view is understood and relayed to the customer, and vice versa.  Again the overarching goal of this structure is to facilitate the flow of feedback and information between the customer and the brand.

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