What is a brand ambassador? The conventional definition is “a celebrity paid to endorse or promote a company’s products or services.” Think Beats by Dre or Lincoln commercials featuring Matthew McConaughey. But with the explosion of social media influencers, the label of “brand ambassador” has grown to include virtually anyone with the right demographic following. Like the celebrity endorser, the influencer brand ambassador is paid in dollars or products (sometimes both). For those ambassadors who truly like and use the products or services they are touting, it’s a win-win for the brands and endorsers. However, consumers expect honesty and authenticity, and if a brand ambassador is found out to be only in it for the money or perks, their believability as a brand ambassador is compromised and can even turn consumers away from the brand. Therein lies the dilemma for companies regarding who to enlist to publicly endorse their brands.
StruXure began looking at the traits an authentic brand ambassador should possess, and it led to a surprising conclusion. Here’s what we discovered.
Whomever is endorsing your products needs to know those products inside and out, not just basic information that won’t allow consumers to determine personal value. Brand ambassadors need to understand and be able to explain options, nuances, and benefits. In other words, they need to be able to educate consumers. If they themselves are not highly informed, how can they teach others. If potential customers are only fed jargon and enthusiasm, especially for higher priced items, they will move on to products whose value they can fully comprehend.
Have you ever listened to an influencer gush over the latest fashion or beauty product one day and then repeat the same spiel a few days later for a competing brand? The messaging starts to become suspicious, right? How many beauty creams can you be “obsessed with” because this one “works better than anything else I’ve ever used?!” Consumers are smart. They know the difference between a sales pitch and genuine commitment to a product. Therefore, brand ambassadors need to be able to speak about a product in their own voice, using personal anecdotes and outcomes.
While someone who has been gifted a product may be able to offer his or her own testimonial for it, wouldn’t you rather hear from an expert in the industry? There is something to be said for obtaining information from a professional who, on the daily, works with the type of products you are selling. It’s the difference between getting a one-off report from someone just introduced to the product versus hearing from an authority who can explain why a product stands up to the competition based on factors such as ease of assembly, durability, maintenance, and functionality. Hearing from an industry expert is not only more believable, but more authentic.
One of the biggest issues with influencers as brand ambassadors is their inability to build relationships with brands’ customers. Sure, they may have a great following, but they are building their own brand relationships, which is not the same as building relationships you’re your consumers who are in the market for your product offerings—relationships that keep consumers coming back for new products and services that YOU offer.
Finally, how do you guarantee an acceptable level of professionalism in people you barely know? This is a major concern for brands seeking ambassadors. After all, left to interpretation, professional conduct can vary. One could argue that if the influencer doesn’t remain professional, then s/he may lose status or income, but all it takes is an accidental faux pas, an unexpected feud, or a divisive political statement and your brand could falter along with the influencer ambassador.
Based on all of these factors, we at StruXure determined that we already had the best built-in brand ambassadors—our dynamic dealer network! Who better than these experts to explain in their own words why they continue to sell and install our Pergola Xs and our new Cabana Xs year after year. Who better to show, as well as tell about, the many features and benefits of our products. Our dealers are industry experts, highly professional, and thrive on relationship-building. Which is why, at our recent 2022 Dealer Summit at Paris Las Vegas, we unveiled our Dealers as Brand Ambassadors program. Not only will we be providing training for those dealers who want some additional social media tips, but we’ll be sponsoring periodic challenges and annual Brand Ambassador awards at future Dealer Summits. Look for these superstars on Instagram (@StruXure_[unique name]) to learn from people who truly know about our award-winning pergolas and cabanas.