Monday, January 18, 2010

Do You Treat Your Brand Ambassadors like Your Key Stakeholders?

By Emily Jasper

Imagine you don't have to report to a board of directors or stockholders. You can go about your business without worrying up.
Are you worrying down, though?

The people who invest their time and energy into helping your organization succeed, even if they make no money from it might have something to say about how you treat them. They may speak on your behalf (whether you want them to or not) and, in some cases, can make or break your image. You may want to tap into some of these people, pick a few choice ambassadors who are influential, and see if they will drink the Kool-Aid.

Good-natured brand ambassadors, helping your organization get started or succeed, make up a group you should consider just as important as any group of key stakeholders that help run your business. In their hearts they want to help spread the good word of Company Fabulous. They can be a tremendous resource, especially if your Marketing and PR budgets are nonexistent. As the world changes, more people will be listening to peers. These brand ambassadors will gain trust with customers that you may not be able to do without coming across as an aggressive marketer.

Just like dating, the honeymoon phase will eventually end. The ambassadors may not be so good-natured anymore. They may want "in" on the action, expect certain rewards for time investment, and look for incentives to keep engaged. Wait, what happened?

Consider the brand ambassadors a group who should be part of the process with you. Look at client reference or VIP programs for a place to start. In exchange for references and case stories, companies may create a perks program for being essentially a brand ambassador. Your company can include these ambassadors on sneak peak calls to future decisions, involve them in focus groups, and give them an opportunity to share ideas and feedback. Positive investments of time on your side will continue to keep the positive feeling going for the ambassadors.

Emily Jasper is a Corporate Marketing Manager with PDI Ninth House. In addition to marketing, Emily has sales and PR experience from previous roles. She currently writes a blog, "From the Gen Y Perspective," and can be followed on Twitter at

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Sabera said...

Interesting post Emily. A lot of CPG firms are already following this practice. General Mills is using the food blogging community to get feedback on their products right from inception to product rollout. As mentioned by you, they also invite specific evangelists for important product development meetings, in addition to discussing paid ways to collaborate.

I strongly believe that to make it a business practice to listen to your unpaid brand evangelists requires a certain openness toward unstructured feedback mechanisms and more importantly, the ability to put your ego as a marketer aside. As marketers, we should strive to make such traits a part of our 'marketing toolkit'.

Emily Jasper said...

Sabra, you just did an amazing illustration of the point. I think it's so important that we think about the bigger picture when it comes to what drives a business. Thanks for the comment!

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