Traditional marketing is dead, long live ambassador marketing!
Okay, maybe it's not that simple.
However, a lot of companies are realising that traditional marketing isn't doing the trick anymore.
Especially when you have social media ads as a cost-efficient alternative for the huge marketing budgets that go to ineffective tv ads.
More and more companies are taking things a step further than social media ads. They are creating online communities of brand ambassadors.
And that's where ambassador marketing comes into play. But what is ambassador marketing exactly?
And why should your company start with their own ambassador program?
Attention Is Shifting Away From Traditional Channels
One of the main reasons why traditional marketing isn't working for companies is that people know when they're being sold something.
Imagine watching television with your family after a long day at work. You're enjoying your favorite show and all of a sudden your show gets interrupted by ads.
Now, what's the first thing you do? Exactly, you're scrolling on your social media channels or you get something to drink.
Nobody pays attention anymore to traditional ads. Mainly because they are targeted at a large audience, which feels impersonal.
As a result, social media advertising has become big business. Social media has reached $ 84 B ad spend in 2019, surpassing print ad spent which 'only' generated $ 69 B.
Impressive numbers, but this is only a fraction of its true potential.
A lot of people have downloaded ad blockers on their browser, which blocks out all the advertisements they encounter on the internet.
Just to give you an idea of the impact of ad blockers: they've cost the advertising industry a whopping $22 B in 2015
Claim Thought Leadership Over Your Expertise
The internet has become the knowledge database for everything nowadays. And people like to be informed about what they're buying.
A lot of organisations have doubled down on their content marketing efforts to make sure potential customers find the way to their website.
Take Neil Patel for example.
Neil coins himself as a digital marketing expert and he delivers on that promise.
Chances are that if you've looked up something about digital marketing (seo, blogging, social media, ...) you've encountered him.
Thanks to his extensive database of long form blog posts and podcasts, he has more than 1,8M organic visitors on his website per month.
Love him or hate him, but that's a very impressive number most marketeers can only dream of.
Having a strong online presence not only creates thought leadership for your organisation, but it also decreases the cost of your marketing by a lot.
And that's why ambassador marketing is becoming more important each day.
It allows you to connect with your brand ambassadors, people that are genuinely interested in your brand and your content. But more than that, it allows them to share your content with their network.
This has become a huge opportunity for many organisations who have successfully set up an ambassador program.
What is Ambassador Marketing?
Ambassador marketing, however a very new concept, is basically the online form word-of-mouth marketing.
The internet has allowed people to express their opinion about a brand towards millions through a few clicks online.
With the adoption of social media, people are creating online communities that brands are trying to tap into.
That's where ambassador marketing comes into play.
You're asking a group of brand ambassadors to share a certain message, offer, event, ... to their network. This allows you to increase the reach of your message significantly.
And it's quite effective as well. A study from HubSpot has shown that 71% of people are more likely to buy when they're referred by social media.
But who are these brand ambassadors?
We can identify two types of brand ambassadors: the paid ambassador and the unpaid ambassador:
- The paid ambassadors consist of bloggers and influencers that can shape customers’ purchasing decisions
- The unpaid ambassadors are your company's employees, clients, partners, fans, ...
It's tempting to go directly to the paid ambassadors, since they have the biggest reach. But we've seen the biggest impact through the unpaid ambassadors.
They might be fewer in numbers, but their enthusiasm makes up for that difference. It's also easy to recruit them, since you already know where to find them.
Ambassador Marketing for Your Organisation
So, how do you get started with your own ambassador marketing program?
It's no rocket science, but you really need to have a buy-in from your whole company. Everybody needs to be aligned and should understand how the ambassador marketing program could benefit the organisation.
Once everyone's on board and you've laid out your vision for the program, there are a few rules you can follow:
Be ready to give value
A lot of companies think they're adding value to the conversation, but only few are actually doing it. Most of them are talking about themselves and their product.
Let me ask you: would you be prepared to share that kind of content with your network? That's what I thought.
You have to be ready to give value to your ambassadors. Because that's why they joined your ambassador program in the first place.
They'll only share your message when it's valuable to them.
Build an ambassador community
Rome wasn't built in one day. And the same goes for your community of brand ambassadors.
When you get started with your ambassador marketing program, it's important to identify your power ambassadors. They are your truest fans, people who will most definitely share stories about your company.
One of those power ambassadors should be your CEO, since they are the ultimate embodiment of the company.
Once you've found your power ambassadors, make sure that others can join the program easily. If your onboarding process is straight-forward, you'll see the ambassadors join fast enough. And then you repeat.
Make it a two-way conversation
There's nothing as annoying as a one-way conversation. Can you remember that one networking event where you were talking with that one person who was monologuing? Yeah, your brand ambassadors don't want that either.
You want your ambassadors to be engaged, and not to be bored. That's why you need to know what they expect from the ambassador program. Is a certain type of content working or not? Is the frequency right or should it be increased?
Those are the questions you need to ask in order to get the most out of your ambassador marketing program. That's why you need to connect with your ambassadors and get feedback from your current campaigns to optimize the impact of the program.
Should Your Company Move Towards Ambassador Marketing?
There is definitely a shift towards ambassador marketing. But this doesn't mean that your company should do too.
Yes, ambassador marketing has many benefits, but only when done properly.
Building an effective ambassador marketing program is something that takes time. You need to understand what your ambassadors expect from you and you want to make sure that your company values are transferred to them. You need to activate them and keep them engaged over a long period of time (or even reactivate them from time to time).
Once you fully understand what the impact of ambassador marketing on your company will be, you can get started with your own program.