In this two-part series, we outline why you should spend your energy turning the individuals within your organization into all-star brand ambassadors and what it will take to get them there. To understand the rise of brand ambassadors and why you need an ambassador program at your organization, see Part I here.
Imagine if every member of your organization engaged their personal networks by speaking about your organization. Well, this already happens (eep!). Humans are social animals. We are constantly speaking with others about our lives, our desires, and our fears.
As such, it’s important to understand that members of your team will always talk about your organization, regardless of your level of involvement in these conversations. Unless you are open with your people and make them feel comfortable being transparent with you, you just won’t hear about it.
Of course, you want to know what the people at your organization are saying, and you want to improve the things that are being said. This means gaining trust, establishing mutual respect, listening carefully to what is said, and taking action where it is needed. These are the first steps to turning your employees into brand ambassadors that benefit your company.
Yet, it is important to remember that the people in your organization are a reflection of the society we live in: diverse, colorful, demanding, opinionated. Don’t expect everybody to start dancing for joy when you start launching programs to foster trust and communication or when your team hears about ambassador programs. Some individuals will likely see these actions as threatening, insincere, or as a loss of personal voice.
Establishing true transparency and trust will take time, and it will require a lot of work on your end to get all of your people onboard. The key is to showcase it (and genuinely endeavor to make it) something that truly benefits them.
Pick the right people
Once you have established trust and you have a solid relationship with your employees, it will be important to remember that not every employee has the courage, the means, and the level of corporate identity to join the game; not everyone will have the skill and competency you need in order to roll out an ambassador program; and it might take training and coaching to get promising individuals involved and make them feel comfortable and secure.
Let people be who they are, and don’t push them. They can be observers. They may become ambassadors if you respect their space and do things right.
Ultimately, the success of your ambassador program will depend on bringing on the right people at the beginning. Here are the 5 key traits to help you identify who is a good candidate:
Interested individuals who lack some of these traits should not be excluded, but they might require more training or other resources before they can fully participate. That’s okay, and you should be sure to actively include them in some way during these early stages. However, starting with a strong fundamental group is a necessary part of successfully implementing a brand ambassador program. It will also help to create internal role models others can look up to.
Establish a clear strategy
Creating an all-star ambassador program must be treated like a fully viable strategic project that requires clear objectives; a content strategy; a project plan allocating remits, responsibilities, resources, and timing; and an approach for measuring and optimizing the activities following the initial roll-out. Don’t start half-heartedly. You will not only lose the attention and interest of your employees, but it may also negatively impact your reputation.
For examples of good ambassador programs, see this case study on GE, the ambassador program at Deloitte, and one strategy Xbox uses for its ambassadors. As you begin to make your strategy for your ambassador program, you will need to do the following:
A version of this article was originally written and published by Boma Germany.