How Caribbean Businesses Are Getting Brand Ambassadors Wrong

There is much fanfare when you see some of your favourite creators or popular people announce that they are now the Brand ambassadors for a bigger brand.

It signifies that they have reached, they are seen, validated, they have been chosen. 

I want to dive into the Role of Brand Ambassadors in today’s business landscape…why should a business use them and why you should think of becoming one if you meet the requirements or why you should stay away from it altogether and how Caribbean businesses are getting brand ambassadors all wrong.

To start…what is a Brand Ambassador? 

A brand ambassador is defined as a person, especially a celebrity, who is paid to endorse or promote a particular company’s products or services.

Now…why would a company want to work with a brand ambassador or why has this become an important strategy for businesses?

Well let’s look at a couple of reasons:

  • Brand ambassadors humanist your brand….We know that in todays age, people buy from people and don’t want to buy from faceless brands. Brand ambassadors are able to connect in their own unique ways and this gives the brand more opportunities to expand on the perception of their brand. You know how they say you can tell more about a person based on their friends…well the same applies for brands…The right ambassdors help with their appeal, perception and direction of the company.
  • Ambassadors  can showcase how the brands/products or services are used in their personal or business lives to achieve a desire or solve a problem. This allows for the audience to say all of the various ways that the products/services can be used…this ultimately helps with the buying process, especially if these ambassadors are really credible.
  • Companies may use ambassadors to build awareness of their company…by using those with large or highly engaged followings….Brands also use micro influencers because they tend to have closer relationships to the audience and can also be subject matter experts with high credibility.
  • Ambassadors are used to drive traffic or sales for the business through their platforms like websites that can provide the coveted backlinks, that also help with Search rankings for brands. This is a great inbound strategy. 

Overall…its a great strategy and selecting the right ambassadors can help significantly grow your brands awareness, digital footprint, lead generation and sales. Depending on your campaign…the right Ambassador or influencer will help you achieve that results.

Lets look at the other side…Why would someone want to become a brand ambassador or influencer?

  • For starters…it greatly improves your personal brand…it shows validation of your of work. A brand has asked to join into a partnership to represent their brand in your own unique way.
  • You get to work with some of your favorite companies…This alone attracts most ambassadors…a company that you have been following, reviewing, using personally, wants to give you more access, receive products, invites to private events and get paid…this is all Wins. 
  • In all of this…you get to build your network, you start attracting more to your community and also begin attracting other companies as well who are seeing your work…and want you to work with them as well. 
  • If you brand yourself right and put the right structure around yourself…you may be able to turn a brand ambassador gig into a full time gig. These can be life changing events and opportunities that don’t come around every. 

However….whilst this all makes sense and this is how it should work regularly as a mutual partnership between the company and Ambassador….we are stuck at level 1 here in the Caribbean…which makes this almost a no-win situation for everybody involved in the long run. 

Some of the core problems that brands and ambassadors continue to do here in the Caribbean are things like:

  • The brands themselves haven’t set up the necessary tools and infrastructure within their digital foot print to even track the success of a campaign with an influencer. A lot of the brands don’t have websites to for them to lead potential clients to, many of them who do have websites aren’t set up for E-Commerce for a discount code to be used, or have an email list to own that relationship.
  • Businesses aren’t aware of the various types of campaigns….so they only focus on Awareness…which leads them to only look for people with high followings, have them shout their brand/business out in their content and hope for the best. 
  • If your brand doesn’t; have a website or the influencer doesn’t have one either…you miss out on one of the most coveted things on the internet…Backlinks…they are critical in building your digital footprint since the search engines check to see how many websites are referring back to your website in order to rank your authority. 
  • The influencers selected usually have Zero relation to the companies mission, products or services…the only thing they have to offer a brand is access to their audience…which you as the influencer should be protecting at all costs…A brand will surives after they have used you…you won’t have you have lost all your credibility. 
  • Companies also continue to use the exacctttt same people as their competitors. That shows a major lack of creativity or strategy from the business and erodes the credibility of the ambassador…as they just come off as people who will do anything, say or promote anything for money. The bond between an influencer and their audience is built on trust…and the audience trusts the influencer, not to sell them anything that doesn’t make any sense. 

A good example of this is recently…popular Influencer Certified Sampson went from working with KFC which the franchise holders are Prestige holdings and jumped over to Popeyes which falls under Restaurant Holding LTD….Now, why would Restaurant holdings think Sampson is a good fit when he was just screaming KFC for the previous year? 

The minute he made the announcement and said he found better chicken…almost every response under the post responded with…”What happened to KFC?”…weren’t you just telling us KFC was the best chicken?

He is also the brand ambassador for Lucozade and now Kure Oxygen water.

This is the point I make about these companies marketing teams not doing anything strategically or with any care for the brands they represent.

How can you have someone who represents fried chicken, an energy drink, be a good fit for your brand of healthy water? There is NO alignment.

Now while the content being produced is going to be good and funny…the reality is…there is no credibility here…which is the main purpose why a brand uses ambassadors to promote a product and their reason why ambassadors are effective is because of the trust they have with their audience. 

So if you are someone who has been deciding on whether to become a brand ambassador…here are some things you should think about.

  1. Look for strategic alliances…Companies that you can work with that work within your niche or a cause that you believe in. 
  2. MAKE SURE THEIR IS ALIGNMENT…most of the companies just reach out to you if you have a following for their own purposes and don’t care about whether you lose your audience in the process.
  1. Try avoid only creating ads for a brand…If you are only creating ads, you are essentially advocating for their products and your audience will hold you accountable to the products you talk about…plus…when ur contract is done…its going to be harder to work with other companies in a these smaller markets since you might have worked with their competitors or the marketers themselves may have issues with other companies..that would stop them from wanting to work with you. 
  1. You should try to create initiatives with brands …that way you don’t outright have to create ads…and that makes it easier for you to work with other brands…after your deal is up with them….When I worked with brands like Bmobile, Digicel, Huawei, Samsung…I was able to do it because I focused on education and creating win win initiatives with everybody…I didn’t need to create ads and straight up advocate products…so my audience would always follow me because I was teaching and they seen my partnerships as alliances to give them the best environments for them to learn. 

5 . Learn to say no…Sure you might be turning down the money today but if you say yes to every brand and your only determining factor is money in the decision…you would have burnt out your brand within a short span and make yourself a hard sell for companies to work with after….companies are becoming more calculated on their ad spend…so you don’t want to give more reasons then not for them to say no.

For businesses looking to work with Ambassadors…here are a few tips for you:

  1. Make sure the people you work with are ALIGNED…these people are an extension of your brand and you best keep that at the top of your mind. When we the audience see random people who have nothing to do with your industry…it creates a bit anxiety in the sales process…we don’t know the person or their knowledge in this niche…why are they telling me to buy your product….make sure these people are aligned…it also shows your incompetence in developing your brand with the right pieces to support your mission and perception.
  1. Have the infrasutrcture to get more than just Brand awareness on social media…have e-commerce set up so influencers can use discount codes to generate sales…Have a CRM in place to capture data like your emails and be able to see who is driving the traffic to your platform. Getting a group of ppl to shout out your business on their socials, and not having any idea as to how your following has grown and who to attribute it too…is not a winning strategy. 
  1. Look for influencers who have websites and can offer you backlinks…they help grow your overall brand tremendously organically. 
  1. Think twice about using the same influencers as your direct competitors…it does more harm then good overall…both you and the influencer lose credibility in the process. 

So what you think….will your business be using Ambassadors?

Are you building a community and have been asked to become an ambassador for a company but not sure if you should?

I hope we shed some light on how Caribbean businesses are getting brand ambassadors wrong and tips for fixing it. If you are someone who is a current brand ambassador or aspires to be one, these tips should shed light on how to build your name and protect your brand.

If you would love to hear more discussion on this topic, feel free to listen to the podcast episode on the matter here Brand Ambassadors – Digipreneur FM.

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