Every week I field calls and conversations with companies about starting a brand ambassador or advocacy program. Almost every time, the company explains that they are excited about the idea of launching a brand ambassador program as a way to generate sales for the brand. They tell me how they have fans and they think they need a program to better connect with those fans so the fans can sell for them.
This makes complete sense. Then the conversation typically goes something like this:
Me: “So what’s in it for your fans?”
Company: “What do you mean?”
Me: “Well you want your fans to start going out and actively selling for you, that’s a lot to ask of them. What are you prepared to offer them in exchange for being a part of this program?”
Company: Long pause…”Well they are our fans, I just assumed they would be happy to help us!”
Just as communities do not form around the idea of being monetized, your fans are not waiting for you to take advantage of them. You have to give your fans a compelling reason to be involved in your program. If they don’t care about your program then they won’t care about selling your product to other customers.
So when you create a brand ambassador program, give special thought to what your fans get from being involved in the program. Your goal is to create a set of benefits from being in the program that are so compelling to your fans that you have so many fans wanting to be involved that you have to limit membership.
A Real-World Example of How This Works
Your company sells lawn care products, and you want to create an ambassador program for the fans of your products that are designed to kill bugs in their lawns.
From the company standpoint, you want to do things like give your fans special coupons so they can give them to customers that they meet in their day-to-day activities. You want to have a way to collect feedback from your fans when they talk to potential customers, and you want to be able to track sales generated from your fans.
That’s all company-oriented. So what do your fans get from being involved in this brand ambassador program?
Since your fans are already buying your products to kill pests in their lawns, it’s obvious that these customers spend a lot of time maintaining their lawns. So your company could offer them materials, seminars, etc that help teach them how to create and maintain a more beautiful lawn. You could teach them why certain lawns attract certain pests, and how to eliminate them. You could partner with chains such as Lowe’s and Home Depot to offer special Fans Only workshops on lawn care.
The best part about all of this is as you are teaching your fans how to better maintain their lawns, you are also educating them on your lawncare products. Which means you are teaching your fans a new set of skills, but you are also teaching them how to better sell your products. Because once your fans understand why certain pests are damaging to their lawns, they will be able to better sell your product, because they will know that it eliminates those pests.
So by creating benefits for your fans you are not only increasing their loyalty toward your brand and the program, you are also empowering them to be better salespeople for your products.
When you are creating a brand ambassador program spend as much if not more time on what your fans get from being involved. The more you offer your fans, the more you can ask of them. Never assume that your fans will happily jump through hoops for you simply because they are your fans. Think about who your fans are as people, and how you can give them skills and empower them to better succeed in their day to day lives. And do so in a way that relates to your product and why they love your brand to begin with.