Guest blog: Working with brand ambassadors

Paul Mildenstein explains how brand ambassadors can help you grow your beauty business

Working with brand ambassadors ’s visibility, drive more customers into your salon or spa, and boost your sales. By working with ambassadors who really fit with your brand, you can naturally get your message in front of your target audience in a way that traditional advertising can’t.

You’ll be able to create a programme that suits both you and the ambassadors you work with by defining what you want to get from the relationship. Here are the key ways spas and salons can harness the power of brand ambassadors to grow their business:

1. Find the best people for the job
Customers who already love your establishment will tend to be open to the idea of helping you promote your business. Begin by looking at people who are connected with your brand, namely your fans on social media and your repeat customers.

Also, look for reviews online to find people who are talking about you and your competitors, and broaden your search by taking a look at beauty blogging networks and niche sites for prominent contributors.

Note how these influencers go about discussing salons and spas, and see how many people interact with them. The goal is to find persuasive people and then encourage them to promote your brand.

Hunting for the right people can be time consuming, but try to focus on quality over quantity. There are no hard-and-fast rules as to how many brand ambassadors you should have. It’s better to work with a select few people who really believe in your brand over the long-term to maximise your chances of producing a return.

2. Define your offering – and your expectations
So you might not be able to afford L’Oréal’s celeb ambassadors; not to worry, brand ambassadors are traditionally unpaid volunteers. The best programmes simply offer perks in return for brand ambassadors’ marketing efforts via:

• social media promotion and interaction
• blog posts or YouTube videos
• encouraging purchases with exclusive discount codes
• gauging community opinion

Consider creating an exclusive hub online where your brand ambassadors can socialise and swap tips. Not only will they love interacting with each other, you can all work together to come up with new content ideas and gather feedback about your establishment, programme and brand perception.

You should definitely host regular get-togethers in the form of VIP makeover or pampering events, previews and masterclasses – you could even surprise them with a celebrity MUA or hairstylist to add to the wow factor.
The cost of fancy websites and celeb guests can quickly rack up, but if you want to go all out and give your brand ambassadors some really glossy news to shout about, you can get a merchant cash advance loan to cover those special one-off costs.

It’s worth noting that there are some bloggers who have turned pro and now run their websites full-time. They have as much sway over their fans as traditional magazines, so unlike your typical brand ambassadors they sometimes expect reimbursement for their time. Work this into your budget, and sponsor their blog now and then as an affordable way to strengthen your relationship.

Finally, give brand ambassadors who have their own online platforms exclusive updates and sneak peeks to give them fresh and unique content to share with their followers – and consider sharing the love by promoting them on your own channels.

3. Measure your success
You’ll need to measure how effective your brand ambassadors’ efforts are. Before you start delving into data, metrics and analytics, ask yourself what’s most important: is it all about the volume of content being produced and shared, or is the impact on sales your main focus?

Once you’ve outlined your marketing goals, use a platform to track these metrics. Monitor your brand ambassadors’ activities as well as users who are interacting with them. For example, you can assign unique links to each of your brand ambassadors’ online activities by using Google’s URL builder and you can find a wealth of free and paid-for tools that track social media activity; basic tools include HootSuite and Google Alerts, while higher end tools include Thrive and Lithium.

Soon enough you’ll be able to measure the scope and success of your activities based on engagement and, with the right tools, potentially link them back to sales.

4. Ask your brand ambassadors for feedback
Great brand ambassadors don’t just take your message, give it a plug and leave it at that. The best ones will tell you what they think of your brand ambassador programme and give you valuable insights into what your potential customers think of your brand. Implementing their feedback to improve your beauty brand will help you to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Brand ambassador programmes give beauty brands the chance to benefit from genuine endorsements made by reliable sources.

Paul Mildenstein is chief executive of Liberis, a company that provides revenue-based finance for beauty brands and other small businesses.