June 30, 2020
Grow your Brand & Strengthen your Organization with Brand Ambassadors
Brand ambassador programs are growing in popularity. Whether you work for a startup, an established enterprise, partnering with brand ambassadors may be the perfect strategy to help your organization better connect with its target audience and generate additional revenue.
In this white paper, we'll explore:
- The purpose of ambassador programs
- The kind of organizations that can benefit from brand ambassadors
- The specific advantages an ambassador program can produce
- Potential compensation models for your organization's ambassador program
- Important KPIs to measure the success of each of your ambassadors
The Purpose of Ambassador Programs
There are a myriad of ways to market a brand and sell its products. So why should your organization take the time to plan, implement, and build an ambassador program? Why not use a different strategy — one that's more familiar?
Because the marketing and revenue generation potential of a successful ambassador program will benefit your brand in three distinct ways: community, purpose, and identity.
Let's take a closer look at each of these important advantages:
A proper ambassador program will help you build a strong, authentic community of customers who are passionate about supporting your organization.
It makes sense: by empowering a collection of influential thought leaders to represent your brand, you'll gain access to powerful stories that resonate with your target market on a deeply emotional level. This, in turn, will allow you to build lasting relationships with your audience.
Lululemon's ambassador program is a great example of positive community building. The athletic apparel company has partnered with many local sales reps, experienced yoga instructors, and professional athletes to build a loyal, grassroots following.
Through product endorsement posts on social media, free online yoga classes, and in-store training events, all produced and/or hosted by ambassadors, Lululemon has built a thriving community of superfans who have become the centerpiece of the brand's marketing strategy.
“We’re very focused on our grassroot model. We think it’s incredibly powerful.”
- Laurent Potdevin CEO Lululemon
Similarly, ambassadorship will give your customers a sense of purpose. They're no longer just supporting a brand; they're supporting a specific person who they've come to know, like, and trust. This is absolutely vital to the long-term growth of your company.
The key to modern-day sales is connection. Your target audience is savvier than ever. They've become distrustful of brands and have learned to tune out ads. In fact, only 33% of modern consumers trust digital advertisements, leading to diminishing returns for organizations that use this promotional strategy.
To combat this, many organizations have turned to ambassadors who can humanize a brand's marketing efforts and speak purposefully and authentically about its products and/or services.
The passion an ambassador exhibits is easily translated to potential customers via social media, resulting in greater brand awareness, audience engagement, and sales. After all, trusted recommendations are still (and probably always will be) the most powerful sales advantage.
Macy's employee-based ambassador program, named Macy's Style Crew, is another great example. Successful ambassadors like Isabell Campbell have allowed the retailer to reach customers in down-to-earth ways and boost company revenue in the process.
Finally, an ambassador program will give your organization a lasting identity that's both instantly recognizable and completely unique. Consider Nike and its ties to Michael Jordan:
The brand has long been considered the creme of the crop in terms of athletic apparel. This is partly because Nike creates high-performance gear that warrants such a title. But it's also because Michael Jordan, considered by most to be the greatest basketball player of all time, decided to partner with Nike in the 1980s — even though he could have signed with a more established brand like Converse or Adidas.
According to the recently released documentary "The Last Dance", Nike was able to engage Michael Jordan with shared values. It ended up being a ground-breaking decision for both parties and Jordan's excellence is now forever associated with Nike.
By partnering with ambassadors who embody your organization's brand values and actively promote them to their social media followings, you'll be able to achieve something similar.
The Kinds of Organizations That Can Benefit From Ambassadors
Brand ambassadors are generally associated with traditional retailers and other businesses who sell direct to consumers (D2C). It's true that D2C brands can greatly benefit from an effective brand ambassadorship program, but so can CPG brands and nonprofit organizations.
Let's take a quick look at each of these kinds of businesses:
D2C brands produce, market, and distribute their products to consumers without the need for a middleman, such as Walmart or Target. These brands may choose to sell their goods in third-party locations as well, but they always maintain at least one direct to consumer channel.
Top D2C brands include Nike, Warby Parker, Casper, and Dollar Shave Club. Each of these companies sells products from a website that they own and control.
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) are common items that the general public uses on a daily basis and must replace at regular intervals. Food, beverages, clothing, toiletries, and cleaning utensils all classify as CPG products.
Some of the world's biggest CPG brands include Coca-Cola, Colgate, and Dove (owned by Unilever.) Though these companies don't sell directly to consumers — their products can only be purchased from third-party retailers like Walmart, Target, and Krogers — they can still benefit from an ambassador program, as we'll discuss in a later section of this white paper.
A nonprofit is an organization that's dedicated to furthering a specific cause or point of view. Any revenue that a nonprofit generates is funneled back into itself and used to achieve organizational objectives rather than distributed to shareholders for financial gain. Nonprofits are also tax exempt, which means they aren't required to pay income tax on organizational income.
The American Heart Association, Habitat For Humanity International, World Vision, and The Lymphoma Society all classify as nonprofit organizations.
How Ambassadors Contribute to all Three Types of Organizations
Whether you operate in the CPG, D2C, or Nonprofit world, you can expect to experience the following four advantages once you've built a team of ambassadors for your organization:
1. Value Creation
According to recent organizational research, "A company’s competitive advantage derives from its ability to create value that is dependent on the impact it has on its ecosystem." (Van Den Steen, 2019; Harari, 2020
In other words, your organization's greatest advantage — no matter what industry you operate in — is its ability to use the work and resources available to it in order to create value for a specific demographic of people. When value is successfully created, customers will compensate your organization in return for having their want or need fulfilled.
Value can come in a variety of different forms. For example, your organization can create a greatly desired product, provide a much needed service, or produce uplifting content on a regular basis.
Likewise, customer compensation can also vary. In return for the value your organization creates, a consumer can purchase a product or service or donate to your cause, resulting in monetary gain; spread the word about your brand, resulting in free word-of-mouth advertising opportunities; or showcase greater customer loyalty, resulting in a higher LTV.
How does your ambassador program fit into this conversation about value creation? Simple: by partnering with the right ambassadors, you'll be able to create more value for more people through the content your ambassadors create, the sales your ambassadors produce, and the loyalty your ambassadors generate amongst your target audience.
2. Employee Empowerment
Second, an effective ambassador program empowers employees.
When you think of the perfect ambassador for your organization, who comes to mind? If you sell sports gear, maybe you think about a specific professional athlete. If you sell beauty products, perhaps you have a certain famous actress in mind. Run a nonprofit? A well-known activist may seem like the perfect partner to help you spread your charity's message and purpose.
Celebrity personalities can make excellent brand ambassadors — but so can your organization's own employees.
In fact, in many circumstances, employees are the best ambassadors because they already know and understand the products you sell or cause you support, and have a vested interest in making sure your organization succeeds. Plus, a recent study found that employees have more credibility than just about every other entity.
An employee-based ambassador program has numerous benefits:
- Better Team Engagement: An ambassador program will give your employees greater ownership of their work and make them feel like valuable contributors. It will also give them the chance to earn higher wages. All of these things will lead to more engaged team members/ This is important because organizations with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable.
- Stronger Brand Building: A brand is more than a company logo and website color scheme. In the words of the famed author, entrepreneur, and marketing guru, Seth Godin, a brand is the "set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another." If this is true (and it is), then an organization's employees are vital to successful brand building. By empowering them via an employee-based ambassador program, you'll ensure your organization's brand is strong and effective.
- Higher Company Performance: Better team engagement and stronger brand building will result in higher company performance. It's only natural. As your team becomes more involved, they'll feel more connected to your organization's vision, which will inspire harder, more productive work and a renewed commitment to your brand values. This, in turn, will lead to greater performance across your entire organization.
3. Emotion-Driven Storytelling
"People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." - Simon Sinek
Story is the heart of every organization. Whether you sell soap or build orphanages for needy children in third-world countries, your target audience wants to know why you do what you do. In other words, they want to hear and connect with your organization's story.
Think of the most disruptive startups of the past decade:
Dollar Shave Club: The video that introduced Dollar Shave Club to the world was simple, direct, and produced for just $4,500. It worked because the footage captured the brand's story about solving a specific customer pain point and included the irreverent humor the brand is known for. It's a great example of storytelling on a tight budget.
Casper Mattresses: These days, mattress in a box companies are a dime a dozen. But there wouldn't be nearly as many competitors in the space if Casper hadn't become so successful. By sharing its brand story with the world and making the mattress buying process more convenient, Casper secured its position as an industry leader.
Dogfish Head Ale: If you're into craft beer, you've heard of Dogfish Head Ale. The Delaware- based brewery, restaurant, and inn business was instrumental in launching the craft beer revolution — and they've done it with a brand story that focuses more on who they are and why they do what they do than what they actually do.
None of these companies have full-fledged ambassador programs (though Dollar Shave Club and Casper have affiliate programs). They are, however, excellent examples of the power of storytelling for brands in various industries.
Ambassadors will help your organization tell emotion-driven stories as well by sharing their experiences with your products/services/mission in authentic ways on social media.
4. Double-Loop Learning
Lastly, an ambassador program will enable double-loop learning (seminal research by Chris Argyris, 1999) in your organization, which requires team leaders to modify goals and decision-making processes based on their actions and results.
Business executives will be able to achieve double-loop learning with an Ambassador program as it will provide precision as to the sources and conversion rates to sales and/or fundraising (in the case of non-profits). This is not a less than essential attribute in today's market.
Double-loop learning could be achieved in any kind of organization — CPG, D2C, or nonprofit — and allow it to create better products, services, and content that engages their target audiences in meaningful ways.
An Organization Effectiveness Model
Organizational Effectiveness Model developed by Itamar Harari, PhD, 2020
The four benefits just described come together to create a proven organizational effectiveness model that you can use to improve your brand.
First, a double-loop learning system is implemented, which will allow your organization to create more value for its target audience, leading to a distinct competitive advantage. This competitive advantage will then become ingrained in your brand's identity.
To evaluate your model, you can analyze ambassador, employee, and customer engagement levels, the effectiveness of your staff, and the cohesiveness of your organizational ecosystem. The insights you glean from this process will then be factored into future decisions as the model cycles back and repeats itself again and again.
Properly Compensating Ambassadors
There are many different ways to compensate your ambassadors. You could, for example, deliver free products to your ambassadors for their services, or pay them a flat rate to endorse your brand. Both of these are legitimate compensation strategies.
However, most brands will choose one of the following compensation plans because they prove most beneficial for both organizations and ambassadors alike:
The most popular way to compensate ambassadors is via a conversion strategy wherein ambassadors are paid a predetermined percentage of every sale they help generate.
For instance, if an ambassador posts a video promoting a specific product and one of his or her followers buys the product after watching the video, the ambassador who created the video would earn a commission.
Commissions of this sort can range from anywhere between 3% and 20% of the sold product's value, though most companies choose a figure between 5% and 15%.
A conversion-based compensation plan is widely used because it's very straightforward and easy for ambassadors to understand. It also presents zero risk to brands. If their ambassadors aren't able to generate sales, they don't have to pay them.
Note that this model requires a technology platform that is able to measure conversions from such personal engagement. TVPage provides a unique solution where content is posted to the brand’s site and all engagement flows through such experience, enabling the brand to both control and measure said engagement and associated conversions. See more information about storefronts for sellers and analytics on www.tvpage.com.
A conversion compensation plan won't work for every company. CPG brands, in particular, need to find a different model. Since CPG brands don't sell to their customers directly, they don't have access to conversion metrics. Brands that find themselves in this kind of situation will be much better off adopting an engagement compensation plan.
When an engagement compensation plan is implemented, ambassadors are paid a predetermined sum of money for the number of customer interactions they generate.
Let's use Dove as an example:
Dove sells a variety of health products such as hand soap, shampoo, and deodorant in big box stores like Walmart and Target. The brand is committed to producing quality products that "make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety."
If Dove were to implement an ambassador program with an engagement compensation plan, a female content creator could, for instance, create a video review of a Dove face cleanser and tell viewers how the product fits into her daily beauty routine. She would then be compensated for her efforts based on how many views her video generates (a Pay per View or “PPV” model), as supported on the TVPage platform.
The compensation plan you choose for your brand's ambassador program will depend on the kind of organization you own or work for. D2C brands are ideally suited to conversion strategies, while CPG brands should almost always choose an engagement-based model. Nonprofits can succeed with either, depending on the way the organization is structured.
One of the keys to a successful ambassador program is choosing the right compensation plan. Fortunately, you now have the information you need to make your choice with confidence.
Important KPIs For Your Ambassador Program
No matter what kind of organization you're involved with, you need to track KPIs for your ambassador program. If you don't, you won't be able to tell if the program you've implemented is effective.
However, the specific KPIs you track and analyze will depend on the type of organization you're involved with and the ambassador compensation structure you've put in place.
Here are a few KPIs you might consider tracking, broken down into two categories:
- Views: This metric refers to the reach of your ambassador content. How many people see their photos and videos on social media sites? The higher the number the better, though views alone won't benefit your organization.
- View-Through Rate: The view-through rate catalogues the number of people who watch a video from start to finish. It's expressed as a percentage. Your ambassadors might generate a lot of views, but if each viewer only watches 30 seconds of their 6 minute video, the content probably isn't helping your organization.
- Comments, Shares, and Clicks: Comments, shares, and clicks on social media posts show a higher level of engagement. By tracking these actions for ambassador content, you'll be able to tell how effective their photos and videos are at engaging audiences.
- Click-Through Rate: The click-through rate metric tracks the number of people who click on a social media link compared to the number of people who saw it. It's expressed as a percentage and speaks to the effectiveness of ambassador content.
- Revenue per Ambassador: All revenue that the ambassador generates. Most models will operate on a last event attribution basis in order to allocate the transaction to the right ambassador.
- Revenue per View: Total revenue generated by those who viewed within a defined period, divided by the number of views viewed during such period. This is an important metric in determining the value of each video and its associated views.
- Conversion Rate: Going one step further, we have conversion rate, which is the ratio of people who engaged with videos, photos or product links, and ended up making a purchase. Traffic is great, but if your ambassadors aren't generating revenue for your organization with their social media posts, the effectiveness of their efforts becomes debatable.
- Order Value: Lastly, we have order value. This metric tracks the average amount of money a customer spends with your organization. Ambassadors that are able to drive high-spending customers to your website are the most valuable.
The TVPage Opportunity
TVPage is a video commerce platform that allows organizations of all kinds to build effective ambassador programs and empower their partners to successfully market their brands via shoppable social media content. It's a complete, turnkey solution that includes features like:
- Shoppable Storefronts: Video-powered storefronts are video-centric destinations, deployed on your organization's website (via subfolder or subdomain), that your ambassadors can create, customize, and promote to their followings. When a potential customer lands on a shoppable video posted to an ambassador’s storefront, they have the opportunity to view content created by their favorite ambassador and purchase the products promoted in their videos. The result is more web traffic, higher conversion rates, and additional revenue for your organization.
- Video SEO and Site Search: 30% of all Google search results are video specific. TVPage will enable your organization to rank high in Google by properly coding your video pages so that the search giant can easily index page metadata. Note that Gooogle insists that you must have standalone video pages to come up as video search results, see Google recommended best practices for Video SEO here. Imagine how much additional traffic you'll drive to your website when it's able to automatically rank for high-value keywords.
- Ambassador Relationship Management: TVPage can also be used to manage your organization's entire ambassador program — from finding ambassadors to partner with to properly compensating them for their efforts. Conveniently manage your team of ambassadors from a single destination and boost your productivity.
- Broadcast-Grade Video Quality: The TVPage platform is built on the most versatile adaptive streaming technology (both HLS and DASH compliant), making it capable of delivering the highest quality broadcast-grade customer experience. Whether you use TVPage to host on-demand assets or live streamed broadcasts, you and your target audience will never have to settle for subpar quality.
- A Detailed Analytics Dashboard: You can't build an effective ambassador program for your organization without data. Fortunately, the analytics dashboard inside TVPage is powerful and provides core KPIs for both engagement and conversion metrics. Use TVPage to learn which ambassadors generate the most revenue and why, what kinds of content are engaged with most on each social network, and how to improve your ambassador program for greater future success.
The best part is TVPage can assist all kinds of organizations — D2C, CPG, and Nonprofit. Some of the world's biggest brands like Macy's, Lenovo, Ashley Furniture, and the American Heart Association used the revolutionary TVPage platform to grow their ambassador teams, reach their target audiences, and boost revenue.
Brand ambassador programs benefit all organizations by helping them create value for their target audiences, empower their employees, tell emotion-driven stories, and implement double-loop learning.
To build a successful ambassador program for your organization, invest in TVPage. Our platform is capable of handling every stage of the ambassador management process and is loved by many top brands around the world.
Get in touch with a trained TVPage representative today for a full demonstration of our revolutionary video commerce and ambassador program software suite.
TVPage enables sellers for ecommerce (sales associates and influencers), beyond the limitations of physical stores. We turn on seller storefronts on brand sites to which sellers post shoppable videos, illuminating the catalog and turning the ecommerce experience into an engaging social-media like destination.
Sellers then share their video experiences across their social audiences, generating new traffic and sales. The TVPage platform serves the entire experience, and directly reports and measures on all sales. Seller’s shoppable videos also become discoverable on Google search. Sellers earn a commission on all of their sales and are paid directly on the platform.
About Itamar Harari, Ph.D.
Itamar Harari, Ph.D., is an organizational and business development specialist. Dr Harari has worked with a diverse group of clientele, including governmental and large non-governmental organizations, nonprofit, and innovative technology startups. Dr. Harari has successfully conducted strategic planning and implementation in the areas of quality assurance, data management, organizational development, technology, and organizational impact.