The term ‘brand ambassador’ can be confusing to some people because of its similarity with other common marketing concepts. Like influencers or affiliates.
And the truth is that the definition of a brand ambassador is vague enough to open the door to this confusion.
That’s why we decided to create this article to clear things up and draw the line between these concepts.
In this article, we’re going to break down what exactly is a brand ambassador, why you need them, and the types of brand ambassadors.
All in hopes to help you identify exactly what you need to get the most out of your marketing strategy.
What is a brand ambassador?
A brand ambassador is a person who is hired by an organization to represent a brand in a positive light and by doing so increase brand awareness and sales.
Based on this definition, we can group influencers, college reps, affiliates, and field marketers under the same umbrella. People hired to promote a brand through different methods.
But, that’s not the whole story. While these types of ambassadors are hired and usually compensated, it is not a requirement in order to consider them as part of this group.
For example, brand advocates are a type of brand ambassador who will proactively participate in promotional activities without compensation, purely for their love of the brand.
Brand ambassadors can also have a large following or not at all. Follower count isn’t a requirement either.
As you can see, this subject can get pretty confusing considering each of those concepts have differences between each other. In addition, they all operate differently, so a brand has to choose carefully according to their needs.
So what qualifies a person to be a brand ambassador?
Basically, to be chosen by a brand to represent them. A person can be a micro-influencer, a celebrity, an employee, and a brand can invite them to promote their brand.
Because people are super influential in other people’s purchasing decisions.
Everything else is just characteristics and requirements brands use to select their ambassadors according to their goals.
The key thing to remember is that a brand ambassador is someone who represents and helps promote your brand to reach your sales and marketing goals over an extended period of time.
Why you need brand ambassadors
We previously mentioned that people’s opinions are very influential for purchasing decisions. Here we will explain why.
Traditional advertising has its place in the world. However, consumers have lost trust in ads because of the amount of false advertising there is out there.
Another factor that contributes to that lack of trust is that brands speaking highly of their products can feel dishonest. That doesn’t mean that the products aren’t great, just that people value an impartial person’s opinion when making purchasing decisions.
A brand ambassador’s purpose is to drive awareness and sales while being a more trustworthy source for recommendations than traditional advertising.
To that effect, ambassadors with smaller audiences (like micro-influencers or advocates) typically are seen as more trustworthy because they are genuine members of a community who wouldn’t recommend something they didn’t love.
After all, they are people who tried a product, loved it, and now are recommending it to people they care about — their friends and family.
If you don’t believe people are more trustworthy than ads, take a look at this stat:
70% of people believe consumer opinions, while only 25% accept advertisements as truth.
Those numbers include consumer opinions from strangers. Meaning that people trust strangers over advertisements.
And people trust friends even more. 90% of people believe brand recommendations from friends.
Here lies the power of small brand ambassadors.
Establishing brand trust is the first step for convincing someone your solution is actually good for them. Brand ambassadors are perfect for that task.
Types of brand ambassadors
To have a clearer understanding of the topic, let’s take a look at the types of brand ambassadors.
Influencers are probably the first thing that comes to mind. In recent years, ‘influencer’ has become the default term for anyone on social media promoting a product. But that definition is not complete.
Influencer marketing is a fairly straightforward system. It’s not too different from traditional advertising.
Basically, a company pays an influencer to make a post about their product.
The main difference between an influencer and other types of brand ambassadors is that their partnerships with brands are often 100% social media and campaign based. Meaning they are short term and only require the influencers to make 1-2 pieces of content.
Influencers are motivated by continuing to grow and expand their own brand and audience so they want to carefully select brands that their audience will connect with and that will enhance their personal image.
When thinking about hiring influencers, it’s important to understand that they are not a “one size fits all” solution. Influencers are categorized based on the size of their following and each category is better at achieving certain goals.
Macro-influencers, for example, are able to reach a large audience across social media platforms.
Brands usually opt for macro-influencers if they are focused on top of funnel awareness. Their higher follower counts means they are able to cast a much wider net through their social media activity and connect with a diverse audience.
Micro-influencers may not have a million followers but they are able to build a strong relationship with their audience, making them perfect for promoting a brand in hyperlocal markets or to niche and hard to reach communities.
Affiliates are similar to influencers where they have built a large following as a content publisher, but their compensation is performance based. They are compensated for the new customers or traffic they bring in through their own marketing efforts.
This means that they decide how they promote the products.
Have you ever seen YouTube videos of product reviews and saw links to those products in the description? Most of the time those are affiliate links. When you click them and purchase the product, the content creator gets a commission.
While this strategy is more expensive than natural word of mouth, there are some significant business benefits driven by marketing through affiliates.
In fact, affiliate marketing is becoming increasingly popular, with 81% of brands using this strategy to drive awareness and conversions.
Affiliates (and any other type of brand ambassador) work best if they are passionate about your brand. If they love your products, they will want to promote them for the simple fact they want others to enjoy them as well.
This brings us to the next type of brand ambassador.
An advocate is a customer who lives and breathes your brand. They not only believe in your product or service, but also in your values and ethos as a company.
This passion turns into a more natural form of word of mouth marketing, in which that trusted customer becomes an advocate for your brand with or without incentive.
They will talk about you everytime they get a chance. Both online and offline.
Technically, they don’t become a brand ambassador until the brand invites them to be part of the program, but they carry tasks similar to ambassadors on their own.
Advocates are powerful growth drivers and you should optimize your community to build deep connections with your customers.
By taking the time to harvest a genuine relationship with your customers, whether through great customer service or top of the line products, people will likely become advocates.
In other words, an advocate is a super fan who promotes the brand without any kind of reward.
College Campus Reps
Campus reps, or student ambassadors are brand ambassadors who promote the organization on college campuses. Housing providers are a great example of this in action.
Their objective is to represent a brand and promote it to other students. Since they are part of the college community, people trust them more than advertisements.
We need to remember that the whole point of brand ambassadors is to communicate the message of a brand through a trusted face. Having student ambassadors is a great way to tap into these markets for that reason.
In general, they have some online presence, but they work better for hyper-local campaigns bringing awareness to new markets.
For example, companies that want to expand to other states and target college students.
Events can also benefit greatly from student ambassadors.
Student ambassadors are able to reach students through a variety of activities, including user-generated content and in-person events.
A street team of field marketers are ambassadors who live 100% offline and are paid to rep your brand in the real world, drive awareness, and create physical impressions.
While other types of brand ambassadors are great resources to increase your brand’s online presence, your street team of field marketers have the power to harvest a real, human connection.
They’re doing things like hanging flyers, or passing out samples, or even hosting events.
Combining the power of both online and field marketing creates a well rounded approach to connecting with new customers.
Final thoughts on brand ambassadors
Although every type of ambassador uses different methods to connect the brand with the consumer, and reach different audiences, they are all proven to be thoroughly effective forms of marketing.
Through the online communities that they can create, the in person interactions, and the direct and targeted message that they engage in, ambassadors are able to help brands achieve far-reaching brand awareness while forming a genuine relationship with consumers.
Successful ambassadors are people who love your brand and want to bring it to life in their world. They are chosen by a brand to represent it over a long period of time and their referrals will help brands get in front of hard to reach audiences.