Five years ago a brand ambassador was just a well-known expert or celebrity that a company paid to represent their brand. But my friends, times they are a-changing. Most consumers could care less if Kim Kardashian tells them to wear a particular shoe brand or if LeBron James tells you not to drink Sprite. Consumers are looking for honesty and authenticity.
When was the last time that word-of-mouth influenced a purchase or decision that you made? Maybe a good friend told you about a great accountant that they used or an awesome restaurant… Maybe a co-worker gave you a code for a free RedBox rental or the name of a contractor that they really liked… Wherever it came from, you likely acted on it because you TRUSTED them. This is where marketing is in 2017—and doesn’t it just make more sense?
Now, insert an army of loyal, engaged, and passionate employees that are sharing about your brand—they are your loyal Labradors (and that it NOT an insult because Labradors are the VERY BEST of everything good–they are loving, faithful and always have your back.) Sure, they may have a bit of a perceived bias toward your products and services, but their point of view is also so much more authentic. Your brand is also validated by the fact that they personally vouch for you. Would you put your name on something that you didn’t believe in?
So, if you are looking to add to the reach of your traditional marketing efforts, the best asset may be LITERALLY sitting right in front of you. Employee brand ambassadors can be a strong bridge between you and potential customers, the best recruiters for talent, and the most credible advocates for your brand. It’s 2017 and time to consider an Employee Brand Ambassador Program.
Here are a few tips:
TEST THE WATERS:
Start by checking the pulse on your employee engagement. If your employees are unmotivated, a brand ambassador program is unlikely to take off. Don’t assume! An uninspired workforce won’t organically tell your brand story (and could actually do harm to your brand). NO PERSON LEFT BEHIND • Regardless of title, find your organizational brand leaders. One of the best brand ambassadors that I have ever known is Eric Foxx or “Foxxy.” Foxxy has run
NO PERSON LEFT BEHIND:
Regardless of title, find your organizational brand leaders. One of the best brand ambassadors that I have ever known is Eric Foxx or “Foxxy.” Foxxy has run camera at WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee for years and years. He may not have the biggest title or paycheck in the company, but he certainly lives and breathes their “Straight from the Heart” brand. He is always smiling. He heart is there for the community and his co-workers. He has become part of their product. If Foxxy says “WBIR is the best” then people listen! His inside perspective and passion for the brand is authentic and honest—BINGO!
Once you have identified a small group of engaged employees, start with a pilot program. Test small, adjust, and then scale up.
Make sure to engage your brand ambassadors. Ask their opinion. Let them help develop the pilot program. Let them try your products and give you feedback. This small group of ambassadors will likely bring others on board.
GIVE THEM TOOLS:
Communicate with your brand ambassadors. Give them special training and a “toolbox.” Make sure that they are in the loop on the newest, latest, and greatest within your business. Send them easy pre-made content suggestions and encourage them to choose only the pieces that resonate with them, edit the message, and then easily share on their own social media without seeming canned or stale.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM:
Lastly, make sure that there is something in the experience for your employees beyond the sense of accomplishment for helping your bottom line. Encourage competitions; offer awards, membership to a club, offer an extra day off for their participation (time is precious!)
According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report, when it comes to innovation, treatment of customers, how they are performing financially, and business practices, employees are the most credible and trusted spokesperson in organizations. It’s time to give them a voice!
Jules Morris has more than 20 years of award-winning marketing, advertising, and branding experience. Her marketing passions include brand strategy, building brand evangelists, and all things social media. Jules has worked with strong and reputable brands during her career such as The Super Bowl, Samsung Electronics, PYA, LBMC, The Heartland Series and was the marketing director and brand manager for WBIR-TV. Jules gets the “big picture” of brand strategy and marketing.
Michael (Lane) Morris interests include Leadership Brand Development, Executive Coaching, Organizational Development, Strategic HR, Family Business & Entrepreneurship, Work & Life Harmony, and Stress/Health/Wellness. A popular speaker, his work has appeared in journals such as Organizational Research Methods, Human Resource Development Quarterly, Family Relations, Advances in Developing Human Resources, Logistics Quarterly, International Journal of Management & Enterprise Management among many others. Dr. Morris received his Ph.D. from The University of Tennessee with graduate degree work emphasizing in different dimensions of leadership, organizational development, and counseling. His favorite BombDiggity hobbies include golf, going to the lake or beach, traveling the world with his wife, and hanging out with the kids and grandchild.