Brand Advocacy Essentials Part 3: Winning Hearts & Minds with Brand Advocacy On the Go
In Part 2 of our series, we talked all about the Brand Advocacy trifecta in stores – Market Development Managers, Assisted Sales Representatives, and Trainers. But what do you do when you want to achieve brand advocacy outside of the retail store? That’s where Brand Ambassadors come in! From advocating a brand to other students on campus, to interacting with customers at an outdoor event, Brand Ambassadors can be used in many different types of scenarios to generate demand and win consumer hearts and minds.
Making the Grade with Campus Ambassadors
With the school year in full swing, it’s prime time for brands to activate a campus ambassador program. It’s the one arena where you can directly connect with two of the most influential generations to date: Millennials and Gen Zers. According to Event Marketer, “the college crowd wields $545 billion in total annual spending power, including $163 billion for spending on food, cars, clothing and more.” That’s a big chunk of the pie that you don’t want to miss out on.
So, where do you start? Just like retail stores, campuses essentially have their own “selling environment”, so it’s important to tap into a partner who understands the ins and outs of the different campuses, plus knows how to work with and engage students as employees. From how you set up your program, to recruiting, onboarding and training, activating students as brand ambassadors requires the right fit, extreme organization, clearly defined expectations, accountability, and a good amount of resources. Mollie Gray, Director of Solution Development, says:
“You want to select Ambassadors who are active on campus, part of clubs, etc. These Ambassadors should be engaging with as many students as they can as much as possible and really working to make themselves known as a representative for your brand. Selecting the right campus is also important – it’s important to consider the demographic of students that your brand will resonate best with. Just because a school is well known does not mean it is the right fit for your brand.”
On top of that, if you can work with a partner that also offers digital and social, you’ll be able to tap into Gen Z’s desire to connect with others through mobile. According to Inc. Magazine, the younger generations “trust their smartphones more than older generations, with 15% of Millennial smartphone users making multiple mobile purchases per week. Another 15% make at least one mobile purchase per week.” Think beyond just arming students with postcards, flyers, and door knockers. Supporting your student reps with personal landing pages, a dedicated mobile app, online discount codes, email campaigns, and more to generate demand can unlock greater sales and get you even more data to personalize your campus strategy even further.
Bringing Brands to Life with Event Ambassadors
Opening up a series of pop-up shops? Launching a mobile tour across the country? Planning to do a stunt in the middle of Times Square? You can’t do any of those things successfully without a team of Event Ambassadors to bring your brand to life. From on-brand uniforms, to the way event team members converse with consumers, every single thing needs to be thought through and trained on to ensure your experience is authentic, personalized, and memorable. Erin Mills, COO of MAG and VP of Experiential at BDSmktg, says:
“Event Ambassadors are only as successful as the criteria set forth for selecting them. Brands can and should be specific in terms of what skills sets and interests they would like reps to possess. Do they want bi-lingual staff? Staff with social media followings in excess of 1,000 users? The more prescriptive the staffing profile, the better.”
And a recent article from Event Marketer also sums up the importance of training your Event Ambassadors by saying: “They may have approved signage, demoed the interactives, selected the premiums and hashed out the hashtag, but many often overlook event staff or brand ambassadors—expecting they’ll show up to the front lines of the experience and, after light reading and a pep talk, knock it out of the park.” No matter what kind of experience you’re providing, think of training your ambassadors to be more than just on-brand event staff. To really bring your vision to life and create an effective selling environment, event ambassadors should not only be knowledgeable on the brand or product, but also understand the art of selling. At the end of the day, it’s the nuances of the conversation with the customers during the events that will convert them to a brand fans for life. Mills says:
“Talking points should be a guide, not mandate. Event Ambassadors are most successful when they are given the liberty to talk about the brand in a manner that is natural to them. Organic conversation is the best way to engage – every time.”
Get a Partner Who Offers It All
BDSmktg has been connecting brands with consumers for more than 30 years, and our out-of-retail Brand Advocacy solutions are the ultimate win for brands looking to make an impact. We not only have years of experience sourcing, hiring, and training the right ambassadors for your brand, but we also arm them with the tools to be successful on your behalf. And now with our newest Experiential solution, powered by industry renowned experiential marketing agency MAG, on top of our Digital Marketing solution powered by the experts at WOWbrands, you can drive brand demand, get into the hearts and minds of consumers, and ultimately drive sales. Message us to get a custom all-in-one Brand Advocacy activation plan, and stay tuned for our final part of the brand advocacy series coming soon!