Whenever we purchase something, we tend to share our experience, be it bad or good. The point is if someone liked any beauty product or any restaurant service, they would recommend you to take their services or products. Therefore, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and Think about the last time word-of-mouth has influenced one of your purchasing decisions.
Maybe your friend shared their love of a subscription service like StitchFix, a co-worker may have sent you a referral code for free Uber credits, or a neighbour suggested their favourite contractor or it could be a friendly suggestion about where to go to dinner. Although, you apparently go with the referral, in part, because it came from someone you trusted.
Now, think about the last time you got a referral and overlooked it. What led you to discredit the recommendation? A lack of trust in the person giving it? How was the referral issued? Generally, when referrals look and feel like general spam, we tend to tune them out — and rightfully so. In those cases, the “referral” feels more like interruptive advertising than an actual recommendation.
With that in mind, marketers need to ask themselves a critical question: Which kind of referrals are your brand ambassadors bringing for your business?
If it’s the latter, it’s doubtful your referral marketing program (or any referral software you use to support it) will move slightly. That’s why it’s so crucial for you to vet and qualify ambassadors — the followers you’re committing to generate referrals — before enlisting them to create a buzz. There’s an art to picking the right people to portray your brand, and, if you handle it properly, you’ll get the rewards for years to come.
Core Features of a Brand Ambassador
So, what makes a brand ambassador a good ambassador? How should they respond? What should they understand? If you want to have an army of passionate brand advocates, here are six key things you should be looking for:
- Understanding of Marketing
It does not mean that your ambassadors and advocates require a marketing degree, but they should have a primary knowledge of marketing’s core principles. Clearly, the best ambassadors understand the value of authenticity in modern marketing and perceive digital marketing and social media play in bringing high-quality referrals.
- An Established Online Presence
It goes back to the first quality of the brand ambassador, but it is also important. For word-of-mouth marketing to be successful, you require ambassadors to reach as many people as possible over multiple channels and platforms. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that the ambassador needs to have thousands of followers, fans, or thousands of email contacts to represent your brand. But they should have a well-established online presence and a highly-engaged network that they can access via their blog, emails, or webinars, for example.
- A High Level of Professionalism
While your business won’t employ ambassadors, these people will be symbolizing your brand. They’ll be discussing your company, inspiring others to check out your products and services, and influencing how others perceive your business. If someone hampered themselves or your brand, you’d never pick them. The same rules should be implemented for your brand ambassadors.
- Natural Leadership Skills
Just think about the people you look to for recommendations. Certainly, they’re specialists in a particular space. Still, you reasonably seek out their views because they also exude self-confidence and positivity — traits that draw you in and make you want to listen. These are the very kinds of people you need to represent your brand in the marketplace.
- A Passion for Building and Growing Relationships
Representatives are not salespeople heading out to make as many one-time sales as possible. They endure fostering healthy, loyal relationships between your customers and your brand. Your ambassadors should not only be enthusiastic about — and personally familiar with — your products or services, they should also be experienced at making heartfelt connections with others on your behalf
- Talent to Collect Feedback and Provide Innovative Insight
No refer-a-friend program is complete. Neither is any particular product or service. Surely, brand ambassadors will collect feedback based on their experience with your product or services and their communications with your customers and competitors. This information can provide you with the knowledge that assists you to improve your referral marketing program (and, more broadly, your business).
As with any marketing strategy, referral marketing demands the right mix of tactics, resources, technology, and people — the following playing an especially critical role in making the whole operation forward. If you succeed in finding the right brand ambassadors with the right blend of skills, personage, and credibility, your referral marketing program will take off.
That isn’t to say that establishing a mighty army of passionate advocates is easy (it’s not). But with the right referral marketing strategy and method, it is possible.