**The below post is featured on the Minnesota Chapter of the American Marketing Association Blog.
Imagine you don’t have to report to a board of directors or stockholders. You can go about your business without worrying up.
Are you worrying down, though?
The people who invest their time and energy into helping your organization succeed, even if they make no money from it might have something to say about how you treat them. They may speak on your behalf (whether you want them to or not) and, in some cases, can make or break your image.
You may want to tap into some of these people, pick a few choice ambassadors who are influential, and see if they will drink the Kool-Aid.
Good-natured brand ambassadors, helping your organization get started or succeed, make up a group you should consider just as important as any group of key stakeholders that help run your business. In their hearts they want to help spread the good word of Company Fabulous. They can be a tremendous resource, especially if your Marketing and PR budgets are nonexistent. As the world changes, more people will be listening to peers. These brand ambassadors will gain trust with customers that you may not be able to do without coming across as an aggressive marketer.
Just like dating, the honeymoon phase will eventually end. The ambassadors may not be so good-natured anymore. They may want “in” on the action, expect certain rewards for time investment, and look for incentives to keep engaged. Wait, what happened?
Consider the brand ambassadors a group who should be part of the process with you. Look at client reference or VIP programs for a place to start. In exchange for references and case stories, companies may create a perks program for being essentially a brand ambassador. Your company can include these ambassadors on sneak peak calls to future decisions, involve them in focus groups, and give them an opportunity to share ideas and feedback.
Positive investments of time on your side will continue to keep the positive feeling going for the ambassadors.