*Updated February 3, 2020
In an age where everyone is glued to their phone as they walk around, the job of the brand ambassador is much trickier than it was 10 years ago. While brand ambassador programs still have a place in the college marketing food chain in 2020, they have to be professionally implemented in order to be effective.
Best Practices for Campus Brand Ambassadors
Brand ambassador programs work best on campus to reach college students when the team understands the mission and the interaction is welcomed.
Here’s how to make sure your brand ambassador program is successful.
1. Brand ambassadors should know your goals
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Don’t let your ambassador team be like Alice in Wonderland. Too often, street teams are sent out not fully understanding precisely what the brand objectives are. Never let this happen. There is no better way to ensure failure than having uninformed brand ambassadors.
To advocate for a brand, the ambassador team needs to be fully knowledgeable about the brand objectives. Even if your ambassadors are just handing out freebies, they need to understand the brand and the objectives of the campaign. This will make them both knowledgeable and more enthusiastic.
2. Brand ambassadors should create smiles
Students like it when you give them something for FREE or help them save money. If you are not doing either, then don’t use an ambassador team.
You need to give something of value. Students value their time, and will be willing to engage with a brand pitch if they feel they are getting something of value for their time.
Pro Tip: Having a product placed in their hands, or hearing the word “free,” makes students smile. If they understand that you are going to be saving them money in the first 5 seconds, they will be receptive to what you’re offering.
3. Brand ambassadors should attract your audience
Set up your ambassador team so college students want to come to you. This can be done by making your presence attractive so that they feel the need to come to you. Whether it is out of curiosity or fear of losing out, students will be much more receptive to your message if they take the initiative to approach your ambassador team.
4. Brand ambassadors should be neat
It is surprising how many ambassador teams don’t know this rule, particularly when they are on a campus. Whether they are handing out freebies or flyers, one member of the ambassador team needs to be on clean-up duty right from the start. Leaving a mess behind is an awful brand message. However, when your audience sees that the brand cares enough recycle or to clean up its own mess, it puts the brand in a very positive light.
5. Brand ambassadors should be cheerleaders
People enjoy and respond best to positivity. Ambassador team members need to act like cheerleaders for your brand and be positive 100 percent of the time when they are out on the streets. Just like cheerleaders at a football game, they need to inspire the audience to root for the team, or in this case your brand. Positive brand ambassadors will get your target audience to root for your brand.
6. Brand ambassadors should time their engagement
Timing is everything when you are using an ambassador team to promote your brand. Your team should understand the movements of your audience and when the students will be most receptive to interaction. The focus should be on how receptive the students will be to your brand’s message, and NOT ON how many students to target.
Pro Tip: Timing is everything! For example, trying to engage college students early in the morning, when there’s heavy foot traffic, will never produce good results, because the students are rushing to class and don’t have time. You’ll do more damage than good. Instead, focus on finding them at lunch and at the end of the day, in places where they gather socially and are not rushed. They will be much more receptive to your message and will have the time to engage.
7. Brand ambassadors should be sensitive about students’ time
Some students will not have time to talk with your ambassador team about your brand. Don’t sweat it — that’s okay. Even if they are too busy to engage with your street team, your presence likely got them to start thinking about the brand — particularly if your ambassadors represent the brand in a professional way.
Your ambassadors need to deliver the brand message quickly and concisely. They also need to pick up on subtle cues and never take more time away from your targeted audience than they are willing to give. As long as you have a direct message that is short and to the point, that’s enough.
BONUS: Here is a SECRET SAUCE for your brand ambassador “street team” to help you remember the 7 rules of brand ambassador engagement on campus.
Attract your audience
Understand your goals
Clean up & cheer ’em up!
Engage on their terms
Students are busy, and don’t have time for meaningless interaction. If you decide to have a brand ambassador program as part of your campus marketing mix, make sure your brand ambassador teams bring their “A game” to the mission.
If you are interested in learning more about our brand ambassador program, please click here.
Susan Chu is a writer and editor who likes to write about trends in higher education.