Brand ambassador program vs. seasonal PR campaigns: Which is better?

Thu Sep 17 2020
Jenn Kim
Community

With the holidays just around the corner, marketers everywhere are planning their big end-of-the-year campaigns. Seasonal influencer marketing campaigns around big events like Black Friday and Christmas are great for short-term PR pushes and building a buzz around your special promotions and limited-edition products.

But what about the rest of the year? What marketing strategies do you have in place for long-term growth?

The best way to ensure that you have sustainable business growth is to nurture relationships with your biggest brand fans and turn them into brand ambassadors. Whether they’re social media influencers, industry experts, or passionate customers who just want to get more involved with your company, brand ambassadors can tell your brand story in a relatable and authentic way. Word-of-mouth recommendations from these die-hard fans are difficult to beat because their endorsements are trustworthy. In fact, studies show that:

  • 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising. 
  • Beyond friends and family, 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts.
  • 74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions.

In the long run, it’s more effective to build ongoing relationships with ambassadors than to find influencers for one-off seasonal campaigns. With a strong brand ambassador program, you’ll always have brand enthusiasts advocating for your products and services, regardless of what time of the year it is. 

Here’s how.

Ambassadors meet your customers where they are

Each ambassador has influence in their own community, regardless of if they have a huge following or not. To ensure that you’re getting in front of the right people, choose ambassadors that represent each of your target consumer segments. These well-aligned brand ambassadors will talk about your products and services in a way that your potential new customers can relate to.

By leveraging brand ambassadors on social media, you can share a powerful message that will resonate with those who matter most to you. Lean on them to tell a story around your brand, rather than just promoting your products and services. 

Peace Out Skincare leveraged its relationship with brand ambassador Fei Yang, who has 1.6 million subscribers on YouTube, to drive more awareness to its pore strips and boost conversions. Yang, who writes in her bio that she “geeks out on skincare” and “enjoys reading about ingredients,” used the brand’s overnight pore strips and posted a before-and-after video that was viewed over 2 million times.

According to Enrico Frezza, Peace Out’s founder and CEO, the campaign with Yang “caused a 3x increase in the traffic to our website, and pore strips saw double growth in conversion.” The brand even sold out on their own e-commerce and on Sephora.com, showcasing the true power of brand ambassadors.

Ambassadors produce evergreen content

Don’t get me wrong — I love scrolling through Instagram and seeing beautifully wrapped presents and well-decorated homes during the holidays. But this type of content has a short shelf-life. On the other hand, working with brand ambassadors to create content has a few benefits for the long-term:

  • Brand ambassadors will create evergreen content throughout the partnership. Since their content is always relevant and timely, you can repurpose it across your marketing channels at any time of the year. 
  • Unlike one-off influencer partnerships, brand ambassador relationships will allow you to get more content for less, as you can lock in rates with your brand ambassadors up front in exchange for a longer-term partnership. 
  • Since ambassadors have proven their loyalty to your brand, their content also comes with their authentic endorsement.
  • Handing over content creation to ambassadors eliminates the need for studio shoots year round, which is especially helpful during a time when we’re all social distancing.

Rihanna’s lingerie brand Savage X Fenty is a prime example of leveraging ambassador content. While the brand has traditionally worked with models, photographers, and stylists to shoot product photography, it worked with its brand ambassadors to style remote photoshoots amid the pandemic to showcase its lingerie. The images were not only posted to each ambassador’s social channel, but they were also put together into a collage for its summer campaign. 

Ambassadors promote a lifestyle

A brand ambassador program, by definition, entails a long-term relationship. While one-off influencer partnerships allow for creators to promote many different products, brand ambassadors will often agree to be exclusive to your brand (at least among your industry) when it comes to sponsorships. This means you can monopolize the ad space on their feed. 

Additionally, the ambassadors’ continued love and support for your brand showcases real affinity the brand partners have for your company. In other words, it’s not just another sponsored post — it’s a true partnership.

Because brand ambassadors have a genuine love for your products, they’re able to seamlessly incorporate your brand into their lives and easily showcase how your brand has supported them in meaningful ways. Educate them on your products and services, as well as your mission and messaging. Then, give them the creative freedom to tell an authentic story around your brand.

Athleisure brand Lululemon has a robust brand ambassador program that reaches customers in many different aspects. Comprised of elite athletes, yoga instructors, and retail employees, Lululemon’s brand ambassadors teach yoga lessons, provide in-store assistance to customers, share their feedback on new products, and much more! Their collective love for health and fitness, as well as the brand’s high-quality activewear allow them to truly embody Lululemon as part of their lifestyle. 

This not only promotes Lululemon in an authentic way, but also keeps the brand top of mind for customers as they continue following the ambassadors and their aspirational lifestyles. 

Invest in brand ambassadors.

A strong brand ambassador program can catapult your brand to new highs, but the focus does not have to be just top of the funnel. Take a multi-pronged approach to your ambassador program to drive direct sales, create high-quality reusable assets, and build a meaningful community.