August 24th, 2020
Influencers are Ads. Ambassadors are Salespeople.
By Allon Caidar, CEO & Co-Founder, TVPage
Influencer marketing is nothing new. It has been around for years and many brands have tapped into celebrities – actors, musicians, athletes – to help better sell their products. And while many brands are still chasing that traditional presence to help amass large followings, there’s a new kind of influencer emerging with a modern twist when it comes to long-term brand awareness and building genuine relationships with consumers.
In this byline, Allon Caidar, CEO & Co-Founder of TVPage discusses how ambassadors are taking over as the digital influence for the future of retail. While influencers can act and are often seen as ads, ambassadors embody sales people who have deeper interactions with audiences and build longer lasting consumer loyalty. Allon dives into how influencers differ from ambassadors, and why brands should consider shifting to an ambassador strategy.
Influencers vs. Ambassadors: What's the Difference?
Since the entire nature of an “Influencer” is to promote the largest possible reach, growing their “brand” is where Influencers invest their time and energy. When engaging in Influencer Marketing, you are paying the going rate to share or “bid” for that “real estate” in front of the Influencer’s consumers, along with any other brand that may be competing for that exposure. It is another form of advertising, pure and simple.
Given their agenda to go wide and broad, Influencers do not focus on creating a connection with the consumers who follow them. They seek a celebrity status that is detached, by definition.
In looking for the right “brand representatives” on social, we should consider three important facts:
- E-commerce is the primary medium that retailers are investing in for growth. This has only been strengthened in a post-COVID-19 world.
- Consumers seek a guided sale, and expect to find this online.
- Ads just aren’t as effective. People buy from people, not ads.
There is a genuine need for people who can engage with consumers on social media in an authentic manner. Brands must communicate the power of their products through this medium.
In many ways, an ambassador is similar to an influencer, both wield online influence and use it to promote specific brands and the products they sell. Ambassadors, however, are focused on the brand they represent, and their goals align with that brand.
Ambassadors work closely with the brands they partner with on an ongoing basis. This allows them to learn about the products they represent and gain in-depth knowledge about their target audience. Ambassadors are sometimes thought of as micro-influencers, although do not have to be categorized as such.
The ongoing nature of an ambassador relationship is more akin to a sales associate type relationship. The pay structure for ambassadors can therefore lend itself to being very different than it is for influencers. If and to the extent possible, ambassadors would welcome being paid on a commission for every product they sell, and retailers would far prefer such method. They understand that they are working for a brand and product in which they specialize, maintain an expertise and are passionate about. Influencers, on the other hand, are accustomed to demanding a fixed fee per effort, and then moving onto the next deal.
If we think about it, retail has always had salespeople. Any store, ever since the invention of the retail industry, has always had both salespeople and customers. As retail moves to a dominantly virtual world, the salesperson needs to be recreated online. The ambassador is well-positioned to fill this void.
How to Build a Winning Brand Ambassador Program
To build a program that generates new substantial revenue for your company, follow these three steps:
1. Bring Ambassadors into your Online Store
You must provide your ambassadors with the tools needed to curate, build and engage with customers on their Storefronts. It is imperative that the ambassador connects with consumers just like they would in a physical store. Shoppable video is an important tool, along with live events, appointment setting, and posting product collections, all of which are supported on the TVPage platform.
TVPage also offers ambassadors a mobile app called “Storefront by TVPage” that enables them to post and manage all of these experiences to their Storefront. It also enables them to share their videos and collections directly to all social media channels.
The Storefront app is available both on Apple iTunes and the Google Play Store.
2. Incentivize your Ambassadors
Enabling your ambassadors to monitor their success is critical. They need to see how their posts generate sales, and how much they are making at all times. We therefore strongly believe in a commission-based model. Lastly, you must engage with and encourage your ambassadors to ensure that they are active and growing.
The Storefront app and TVPage platform address these points with holistic reporting on all sales that result from such engagement, supported by automated congratulatory emails upon achieving results and encouragement emails when performance is low.
3. Pay-out and Reporting
The TVPage platform goes deep with data that enables you to understand what is working and what isn’t. Also, you can rest assured that every dollar is accounted for. Unlike simplistic “insight-based” systems, TVPage is an accounting-grade financial auditable platform that provides actual sales data with monthly statements for all ambassadors. This is critical to scale any ambassador program.
If you are a retailer seeking to grow your online sales, and most importantly, preserve and extend your online customer base, it is time for you to enable your sales team online. While you may want to also continue advertising with influencers, it is important to understand that the two efforts are not the same.
TVPage enables salespeople beyond the limitations of physical stores by activating ambassador storefronts on ecommerce sites, where they post shoppable content. Ambassadors drive traffic to their storefronts from their social audiences, generating new engagement and sales. Shoppable videos become discoverable on Google search. TVPage serves the entire experience, and directly reports on all sales. Ambassadors can earn a commission from their sales, paid directly on the app.