5 Tips for Recruiting and Keeping Brand Ambassadors

For the past year or so, I have been in a love/hate relationship with the makers of one of my favorite protein bars. Because I still have mad love for the product itself, I won’t name the brand here.

I was fortunate to become one of the company’s brand ambassadors. Only, I never quite felt fortunate or appreciated. I watched daily as other ambassadors used social media to show off their branded gym bags, filled with free product like water bottles and tank tops while I made do with the occasional product shipment and hugely oversized t-shirt (seriously, it came down past my knees). I felt like Charlie Brown out trick-or-treating (“I got a rock.”)

Yet, I plugged away, sharing product samples, posting online product reviews and promoting within my fitness circles. Not once did the company use my images, my stories or my testimony. I continually was made to feel like a stepchild despite that fact that I was living and breathing their brand every day.

A couple of months ago, I received a cut-and-dry email, informing me that the ambassador program was changing. I was advised to reapply, and perhaps I would be chosen. Perhaps not. I reapplied, and heard…. nothing. Lots and lots of nothing. I called, emailed, tweeted, finally receiving a form message back saying that they still had not finalized the new program and I would be notified if chosen. Meanwhile, those lucky folks I mentioned earlier? They never missed a beat, continuing to post photos of their company perks.

I decided to retain some of my dignity and walk away. But, as a marketer myself, I would be remiss if I did not use this as a learning experience.

So, here are five tips for recruiting and keeping strong ambassadors for your brand:

  1. Have goals and a clear program plan. Make sure your would-be ambassadors know what is expected of them, and what they can expect from you.
  2. Know the type of ambassador you want and need. Establish this up-front so you don’t end up with step-child ambassadors like me. If you choose to have different levels, make sure that everyone knows going into it.
  3. Make them feel special and appreciated. Obviously, you feel they have something to offer your brand. Ambassadors carry your message to a wider audience and strengthen your brand. Recognize them and make them feel part of an elite group. 
  4. Ask for their advice… and use it. Ambassadors are your eyes and ears and can provide valuable feedback if you only listen to them.
  5. Reward them. It can’t always be about your brand. What’s in it for your ambassadors?
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