Some time ago, I had an epiphany. It was, for me, a turning point in the way I make purchasing choices and in my relationship with business entities. My revelation was simply this: Some things are worth the money.
While this statement summarizes my epiphany, a host of unstated assumptions make it work. For instance, when I reach the mental point of justifying spending more on a particular brand, it’s because that brand has reached a certain level of perceived value. This is the point where I become more than a mere purchaser: I become a devotee.
To me, these particular brands justify their added costs by providing a level of service and quality that’s not available from less expensive brands. Not that the cheaper brands can’t provide quality or service, but that they typically don’t. Thus, I am happy to pay more knowing that I’m getting something that will last longer and/or will serve me better.
How I Became a Brand Ambassador
There is one particular financial company that I’ve come to rely on. I will happily pay for and use their products because I can count on being connected to a real person within seconds of dialing their customer service number. The service representative can then see that I am a long-time, reliable customer who pays his bills and generally doesn’t cause much hassle. Consequently, I am treated as a valuable part of their business. I can literally feel the appreciation conveyed over the phone as the customer service employee works to fix whatever issue I present. In short, this company has earned my business.
Importantly, my loyalty to this company does not end with my personal finances. Instead, when I encounter someone who is looking for a reputable financial service company, I immediately tell him/her about my positive experiences. Much to my own surprise, I have become a brand ambassador.
I’ve also grown to appreciate a clothing and outerwear company for their dedication to quality and service. I know that anything I order from said brand will last. And, if something ever goes askew, it can be returned for a refund or replacement at any time. This is an invaluable service, and I don’t mind putting down some extra dollars for a product I can trust to endure or be replaced if it ever fails to live up to my expectations. As with the financial institution, I am happy to refer people to this brand and tell them of my positive experiences, not because I’m paid anything by the company, but because I want my acquaintances to enjoy the same positive experiences that I have enjoyed. Yet again, I have unwittingly become a brand ambassador.
I promote these companies on my own volition because I have come to believe in what they sell. And, importantly, they sell more than just products or services: They sell a relationship, appreciation, respect, and trust. Having been a beneficiary of these corporate character traits, I buy, use, and encourage others to purchase these products, expecting the same traits to be shown to all.
The Power of Word of Mouth
Businesses often underappreciate the value that positive word of mouth can have on their reputations. Conversely, and probably more problematic, they sometimes dismiss the tremendous effect that negative word of mouth can have. In the same way that I unintentionally serve as a brand ambassador for companies who have proven their worth, I also actively dissuade friends from buying products from companies who have failed me.
I’m certainly not the only person who operates in this way. Everyone has personal experiences with companies, and Americans are not known for their tendency to keep their opinions contained. In today’s ever more competitive business climate, reputation matters. In fact, reputation may be the only thing that keeps consumers coming back to a particular business, even if they know they can get the same product at a better price elsewhere. Conversely, reputation may be the one thing keeping people away even if prices are better than anywhere else. Therefore, it is worth the effort for every business or organization to occasionally step back, conduct an intense, critical analysis of practices, and truly evaluate how they are seen by customers. If necessary, it may be time to actively construct and maintain brand ambassadors.
Acquiring Brand Ambassadors Organically
The term “brand ambassador” likely conjures up mental images of famed celebrities hawking whatever they are paid to represent. You are probably well aware of some of these: Michael Jordan sells Nike attire; Andre Agassi used to pitch Canon cameras; and Kim Kardashian has endorsed everything from energy drinks to diet pills to shoes.
Maybe your company doesn’t want, or perhaps can’t afford, such an endorsement. If this is your case, there is good news! A brand ambassador need not be a paid celebrity. In fact, as society grows ever more skeptical of advertising, there is some indication that expensive celebrity endorsements have run their course.
It may be time for the rise of the organic brand ambassador; that is, a person who represents your brand not because he/she is paid to do so, but because he/she truly loves what you sell. This kind of ambassador can do more than just represent your company in photoshoots. Ambassadors of this nature can speak to who you are, what you stand for, and why you do what you do. They understand the soul of your organization and are excited to iterate the message to the public. This ambassador can field questions, direct people to answers, or defend from attacks.
Some businesses may wonder what can be done to understand their current reputations and determine how to build a loyal base of brand ambassadors. This is one tangible value that a reputable marketing agency can deliver. Professional marketers have a litany of tools at their disposal, many of which can analyze public opinion and pinpoint what people think of an organization. Using these results, 212 Media Studios can put together a complete plan to shape your reputation. In the process, brand ambassadors will emerge naturally and speak well of your company because they love what you are doing. It’s likely that you already have brand ambassadors out there. If so, we’ll help you find them and maximize their effect. There is no better spokesperson than an average customer speaking to friends and family about an organization he/she respects.
If you don’t know your organization’s reputation, or if you think it’s time to be intentional about driving positive conversations about your company, give 212 Media Studios a call. We would be happy to sit down with you and find out exactly where you are and where you’d like to be. We will execute the interviews, run the focus groups, send out the surveys, and conduct the content analyses to determine exactly how the public sees your organization. We will process all the results and come up with a plan that fits your precise needs. We will deliver a customized marketing solution that will ultimately enhance your reputation, increase brand loyalty, create more brand ambassadors, and boost your bottom line.
Remember that the devotion you feel for certain brands did not occur by accident—it was the result of a company’s intentional analysis and purposeful decision-making. But the end result is a brand that’s earned your respect and commitment.
Consumers’ brand allegiance is any company’s ultimate achievement. It all starts with a goal and a plan. Let us help you get there. Give 212 Media Studios a call today.