What's In it For Me?


How to incentivize the members of your Brand Ambassador Program

Notes from 3 leading Companies


We live in a time where everyone with a phone in their pocket is now the CEO of their own media company.  It can be daunting to think about how your band, your app, or your service, can grow a large audience in this fast-moving age of increased competition.   While new digital marketing agencies seem to pop up every day, nothing seems to have replaced the longstanding method of word of mouth.  Brands of all sizes are still finding momentum enlisting an army of enthusiastic brand ambassadors. 


I’m a dreamer and have a few projects I’d like to launch in the coming years that would gain wings through a robust Brand Ambassador program.  It made sense to spend some time this week briefly studying a few of the best Brand Ambassador programs; drawing out a few simple principles that will guide me in the future. 


Here’s a brief outline of what I’ve discovered this week


The best brand ambassadors are already the super fans of the brand before they are ever approached or decide to reach out to become a Brand Ambassador; but the question that still looms in the air for the ambassador remains:

“What’s in it for me?”

When motivation is not based on financial gain the atmosphere that fosters intrinsic motivation for the Brand Ambassador is created.

Here are a few ideas and strategies from 3 companies with the most dynamic brand ambassadors

YELP’s Brand program is know as YES, Yelp Elite Squat  Their brand ambassador incentives include:

·       Getting a badge of recognition on your YELP profile

·       Meeting “Awesome” new people

·       Exclusive invites to events

o   Cocktails on a boat

o   Hanging with Penguins

o   Axe throwing event to prepare for the Zombie Apocolypse

Lululemon has over 1,600 Ambassadors including local influencers, elite athletes, and outstanding Yoga instructors.  The ambassadors are tasked with curating the Lululemon community, providing feedback on products, and partnering with the company on social impact projects.

The company has a strong goal of investing in people and strives to help people reach for their best life by encouraging personal development and infusing this vision into their product line. 

Their chosen Ambassadors must reflect the culture and share the core values of the company while possessing a passion to elevate the world to greatness.  The chosen ambassadors have the feeling that they are part of something much bigger than themselves which adds to the honor of being a part of that community.  Their global yoga ambassadors have a unique role where they each get connected to a personal philanthropic passion project.  Their Media retreat gives their brand ambassador community a chance to meet these other world-class ambassadors.  When your community is compromised of A-list athletes and other notable influencers you can see how there is a built in motivation to want to get tapped for this honor of being an ambassador.

Coca-Cola’s Brand Ambassador Program is unique in that it empowers its over 60,000 employees to represent and promote the Coca-Cola brand.  The most recognized brand in the world takes a different approach than most other companies.  They put PEOPLE at the center of their program.  Communication is a key component to their strategy along with listening to understand what their employees want and then employing creative ways to serve them and make an intentional effort to celebrate and recognize exceptional members of their community.  “Love,” as cliché as it sounds is one of the foundational pieces of their strategy.  Senior Communications manager at Coca-Cola, Christy Amador, said “Everybody needs to feel love. Being told you’re appreciated is one of the most simple, yet incredibly uplifting things you can hear.”

The main theme I’ve seen this week is the emphasis on creating community.  In an age of increasing opportunities to disengage with the physical world, the best Brand Ambassador programs appear to be responding to our innate need for personal connections.  They use the simple power of human connection to ignite  a fire under their most enthusiastic supporters to effectively exponentialize the growth of their Brand influence around the world.

What are some of the ideas YOU’VE seen work in creating an effective Brand Ambassador program?  I’d love to hear from you.