Top 9 Successful Brand Ambassador Programs and How You Can Create One for Your Company
Is it becoming increasingly difficult to get your products in front of the right people these days?
If you’ve fallen behind with your ambassador marketing strategy, it can be even harder as ad-blockers are also starting to deeply impact marketing budgets.
What if we told you that old school is still cool?
According to Global Web Index: “[Millennials are] 23% more likely to discover a brand through a vlog, 23% more likely via a celebrity endorsement, and 19% more likely through an expert blogger post”.
Take your brand to places it has never been before with word-of-mouth marketing powered by a data-driven solution.
We’re talking about brand ambassador programs, what makes them successful and how you can create one for your company.
Brand ambassador programs that simply work
Red Bull’s Student Marketers
We all know that Red Bull isn’t afraid to experiment. By creating unique college brand ambassador programs around the world, they are rewarded for their approach to authentic content creation.
Red Bull student ambassadors are armed with free tools and resources and are supported by a community dedicated to their success as ambassadors. In addition, the program is dedicated to making the experience fun and in the spirit of the brand.
The result: a highly sought-after student marketing program that reaches all corners of the globe.
Their authentic, localised content reaches the right target market through the use of young opinion leaders who are genuinely passionate about Red Bull.
Mercedes-Benz and Friends Club
From students to luxury car brands, ambassador programs are a great fit for almost any loyal customer segment.
Mercedes-Benz took what could’ve been a standard loyalty program and turned it into a true brand ambassador campaign. Members receive an exclusive card loaded with individual discounts and offers, as well as access to some of the most exclusive events in the world.
The result: The club currently manages 80 clubs worldwide with a membership of over 90,000 people!
Brita’s Best Roommate Ever Campaign
Ever opened the fridge to find that someone hasn’t refilled the water…again? Brita took this highly relatable situation and turned it into a brilliant campaign.
They used an interesting and unlikely duo of NBA star Steph Curry and YouTube influencer King Bach to create a surprisingly entertaining campaign.
What was even more interesting is that Brita used their traditional advertising campaign ambassador and paired him up a social creator who had a different, but very large online audience.
This campaign gained a very broad reach and gave a fresh voice to the brand.
The result: According to a Think with Google case study, this brand ambassador x influencer mashup generated “over 2 million views and led to a 2,000% mobile search lift.”
Coca-Cola’s Company Brand Ambassador Program
How do you harness the existing brand loyalty and customer base that your own employees make up? Well, Coca-Cola did just that and activated their 700,000 global employees through a company brand ambassador program.
Their approach was simple: to inspire and appreciate their associates around the world.
“Coke’s 700,000 associates have the power to positively influence 210 million consumers by leveraging their personal social media network connections.” – Christy Amador, via the American Marketing Association.
Employees are supported with apps and other material as they channel positive influence through their own social networks and are rewarded for their activity.
The result: According to an article from the American Marketing Association, an employee engagement program like this:
- Saves billions in marketing costs.
- Generates higher productivity.
- Grows business at faster rates.
- Increases employee retention rates at nearly 90% more than companies without brand ambassador programs.
Glenfiddich’s Whisky Brand Ambassadors
The Glenfiddich brand ambassador role is one of the most coveted in the industry.
Liquor brand ambassadors in the Glenfiddich program come from all walks of life and are usually already in the drinks industry in some form or are genuinely passionate about whisky.
Glenfiddich trains ambassadors once a year at the distillery and according to their website: “it’s also a great way to emotionally reconnect them with everything ‘Glenfiddich’.”
The administrative part of the role includes compiling marketing reports, organising events and travelling to various markets.
The role is mostly about spreading the word and educating people about how to enjoy the product in the best possible way.
- The program has a team of 100 enthusiastic ambassadors and is represented in 25 countries.
- The Glenfiddich brand alone accounts of 22 ambassadors.
- Ambassadors ensure that while there’s a consistency in the brand values, their content and engagement with the general whisky-loving public is authentic and localised for each market.
Pura Vida Bracelets
This fashion brand has taken advantage of the power of micro-influencers on Instagram and Facebook, and allows anyone to apply for a yearly intake of reps.
Pura Vida gives their ambassadors (or reps) personalised discount codes which are included in their social content. As a result, the brand can track sales and pay a certain a % of those sales back to the ambassador.
Pura Vida sends their reps free products, early access to new products, and other supporting marketing or launch material. The program allows young individuals to make an income while supporting local artists who make the bracelets.
The success of the program is actually due to the 3-tiered system which motivates their brand ambassadors to sell more products by increasing the incentives at each level.
Pura Vida also allocates a dedicated manager to ensure that everyone is taken care of and motivated to do more.
The result: According to a recent article on Shopify, Co-Founder of Pura Vida Bracelets Griffin Thall states that:
- They amassed an army of 110,282 reps – over a hundred thousand ultra-motivated brand evangelists dying to promote [their] products.
- With the introduction of the tiered system, sales from reps increased 300% YoY.
Lululemon’s Ambassador Empire
This Canadian yoga fashion brand ambassador program is one of the most famous in the world.
Lululemon successfully created an entire “athleisure” movement while growing a global community of ambassadors.
Lululemon put in a great effort to get to know their target audience extremely well and this allowed them to identify influential leaders in those niche groups.
They then created an ambassador program using local yoga instructors who became part of a long-running partnership. There are three categories of ambassadors comprising of yoga ambassadors, elite ambassadors, and store ambassadors.
According to Tyrone Beverly, a store ambassador, in an article on Fashionista.com: “Their agenda is to support your agenda”.
- The program recruited over 1,600 ambassadors comprising of over 75 professional athletes
- Over 1,500 local “fitfluencers”
- 8 yoga instructors around the world, reaching engaged shoppers both in the traditional and online space
The Heineken Experience
The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam directs a large portion of their liquor ambassador program at its 160 students who work at the attraction. By doing this, Heineken used the power of internal brand ambassadors to affect their repeat visitor rates which created even more brand ambassadors!
The program also encourages student staff to outperform each other for extremely generous incentives such as tickets to football matches, Formula One Grand Prix, and even the Olympics.
Dirk Lubbers, the MD of the Heineken Experience owes much of the success of the program to their efforts in picking the right people for the team.
The result: According to an article on Marketing Week, The Heineken Experience has “allowed it to produce lifelong brand ambassadors, leading to a visitor repeat rate of 17%”.
With a dedicated community and tiered incentives program, the folks at Microsoft have created an extremely sought-after gaming ambassador program aimed at Xbox superusers.
The aim of the program is to reward passionate fans and to create an inclusive community-led environment.
Members are kept active with seasonal, monthly and daily missions or challenges which unlock special rewards and there is a range of ways to communicate with each other through social media, streaming services or old-school chatrooms.
The result: Over the years, Xbox Ambassadors created an almost self-regulated and incentivised community servicing millions of gamers around the world and saving the brand millions of dollars in additional support staff.
11 steps to create a brand ambassador program for your company
What exactly is the definition of a brand ambassador? Ambassadors are customers or “superusers” of your product or brand who create content or share positive brand experiences regularly.
Brands often invite advocates and ambassadors to join clubs or communities to receive exclusive offers in exchange for their support. Brand ambassador partnerships can be more formal with specific job functions while others can be loosely governed by a core set of values.
Here are a few simple steps that you can start with
Define your objectives and budget
Outline what you want your ambassador program to do for your company.
Ask yourself what your main objective is: is it to sell more products, up-sell current members, or generate more brand awareness? Decide on your objectives, assign a budget to get it done, and make sure you include a budget for incentives.
Identify your superusers
Look through your existing customer base and find users who are loyal and passionate about your brand. Profile them and have a look at how they’ve engaged with your brand in the past.
Are they brand advocates? Have they taken it upon themselves to become community and brand leaders on your social platforms?
Create an incentives or rewards structure
Take a lesson from Pura Vida Bracelets and their 3-tiered system which motivates their brand ambassadors to sell more products by increasing the incentives at each level.
Think about how you would recognise top users – the Xbox ambassador program does this really well by publishing leaderboards and issuing daily challenges.
Craft your messages carefully. This can be via an email or phone call.
First impressions matter. Write a beautiful email to let the user know you have chosen them to form part of an exclusive group of brand ambassadors, and this will add to the excitement.
Don’t forget that your own employees can make great brand ambassadors, look at the examples of Coca-Cola and Heineken above for inspiration on how to turn your internal team of brand advocates into ambassadors.
Start with a small pilot program and refine the model before opening it up to a larger group. Firstly, this will reduce the amount of support you need to provide, secondly, this will allow you to connect directly with individuals and build a strong foundation.
Provide resources and material
Arm your brand ambassadors with marketing material and products to help them curate and create content that reflects your brand. For example: look at how Red Bull created an online resource portal for their student marketers while allowing them the kind of creative freedom that has propelled their brand.
Monitor, but don’t dictate
Keep a close eye on your ambassadors but don’t interfere in their content creation process. Create a style guide if you need to. Monitor their progress and sales through your analytics or referral tools.
Assign personalised tracking numbers or codes to your ambassadors so that you can track the online sales that they refer or generate.
Keep your promises
Honour your agreement with successful ambassadors within the agreed upon time frame. Delivering on your end of the bargain too late will have a serious impact (word-of-mouth travels, remember!).
Review the numbers
Review your sales figures and the performance of your pilot program. Apply any actionable insights or learnings to your larger strategy.
Rinse and repeat
Do it all again with a bigger group because you’re ready to scale up!
It can be time-consuming to create a brand ambassador program for your company. However, with the proper planning in place it can become a very rewarding effort in the long run.
Consider choosing a referral solution for your brand ambassador program to take the load off your shoulders so that you can focus on what matters the most for your online store and brand.
Remember to keep these points in mind:
- Choose your brand ambassadors wisely, they must be passionate about your products!
- Start with a small group
- Make marketing resources and tools easily accessible
- Give your ambassadors enough freedom to create
- Provide a support channel and / or a help community
- Invest in ongoing training and create regular opportunities for them to refresh their connection with the brand
- Give your ambassadors tangible benefits (discounts, products, experiences, or payments)
- Track and measure their performance
- Use actionable insights to optimise your strategy
The Xbox Community: https://ambassadors.microsoft.com/xbox
What do Xbox Ambassadors do? Impact that Matters: http://blog-ambassadors.xbox.com/xbox-ambassadors-impact-what-matters/
[Growth Study] Lululemon Athletica – How to Beat Nike by Creating a New Category: https://shop.lululemon.com/story/ambassador-program
Inside the Cask chat with Ludo Ducrocq: http://insidethecask.com/2017/01/27/inside-cask-chat-ludo-ducrocq/
Mercedes-Benz Brand Club – https://www.mercedes-benz.com/en/mercedes-benz/lifestyle/classic-magazine/welcome-to-the-club-among-mercedes-benz-friends/
Rock like Red Bull at Student Ambassador Marketing: https://blog.id.me/marketing/students/rock-like-red-bull-at-student-ambassador-marketing/