The business case to train brand ambassadors (Plus tips on how to pick them from your team)

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The business case to train brand ambassadors

Jacquline was excited to start with a new digital marketing company that had a good reputation for being creative and forward-thinking. 

The day she started, she had an orientation session where her new manager taught her a handful of things about the company’s history and their processes. After the orientation, Jacquline was shown her desk and briefed on her first project. Things were going well. 

But a few days later, in the breakroom, Jacquline heard some of her co-workers complaining about a particular project they were on, which bled into a myriad of complaints about other co-workers and the management. 

Suddenly she was feeling much less enthused about the company. 

This isn’t exactly what she thought she’d signed up for, and she definitely didn’t want to end up as unhappy as the people around that table. 

She began to wonder if she had made the right decision to accept a position with the company. Then on Thursday, when she hit a snag on her project and her manager was unable to solve the problem because he was rushing out the door to take a long weekend, she began to have serious doubts about the company. 

She was out for coffee that weekend with one of her friends, someone who also worked in the marketing industry, who asked how she felt about her new job. She replied, “I can’t imagine I will stay there long — I thought they would be excellent to work for, but actually, it seems like it is a mess.” 

Sounds familiar? According to a study by Gallup, less than 30% of employees believe in the brand that employs them.

Employee Engagement_SpeakerHub

Here is why this is a problem.

Your employees represent your brand. If they are passionate about what you do, and believe in the companies values, they will promote your company and help to build a positive perception about your brand. 

Without that buy-in, however, they are less likely to support your marketing and sales efforts in an impactful way, and might even damage your brand. This may happen through comments on social media, talking with their friends and family, or even directly with customers and clients. 

According to Gallup, around 70% of employees fit the latter category, which is highly risky.

Research also shows that in many organizations there is a big gap between the culture that leaders envision for their company, and what employees actually experience. 

While leadership may place a lot of value on communication, employees don’t feel it is particularly safe to voice their feedback and ideas within the company. All of a sudden, there is a disconnect. 

This disconnect creates inconsistency for everyone involved; from leaders who can’t understand why the company does not have the vibrant culture they have envisioned, to employees who don’t believe in the company they are working for. This affects customers and clients who end up feeling there is something amiss with the company. 

But what can you do? How do you get your employees on board with your brand? How do you make sure that the values of your organization translate into company culture?

Start by adopting the mindset that the way you communicate internally deserves the same focus and creativity as your external communication. 

Adopting the mindset_SpeakerHub

Let’s take a look at how branding training can help. 

5 reasons why brand training is essential

A Gallup poll found that 41% of employees don’t know what their company’s branding really is.

How can they feel passionately about and promote the organization (and its products and services) to others if they don’t even know what the company’s brand is? 

Just as happened with Jacquline, most companies provide some sort of initial orientation training where employees learn about the company’s brand, history, and processes. Yet after this initial training, employees hardly receive any focused attention when it comes to company culture, and get limited opportunities to form a cohesive bond with their brand. While they might get additional skills training, it is not the same as “brand training”. 

Brand training is where employees, or “brand ambassadors”, are taught about what sets the organization apart: the company’s identity, its core values, how it’s different from the competition. These sessions should happen regularly and are essential for building cohesiveness within the organization.

Here are 5 reasons why training brand ambassadors is essential: 

1. Engagement

Engage: To establish a meaningful connection with [someone or an activity]”.

Engagement is key: A paper published by the Performance Improvement Council referenced studies by Gallup that confirm that engaged employees are:

  • more productive,

  • create better customer experiences, 

  • and are more likely to remain with the company (but more on this in a second). 

Disengaged employees are like the ones sitting around Jacqueline’s lunch table — they aren’t happy, they aren’t enthusiastic, they don’t really like working for the company, and they can be very damaging to your brand.
 

Employees who regularly get brand training feel more connected to the company they are working for. They understand what the company’s mission is about, and feel like they are part of making something happen.
 

Engagement_SpeakerHub

2. Consistent messaging and communicating

Imagine a company that posts on social media that “Customer service is always at the forefront of what we do” with a video of happy customers getting great service. 

A customer sees the post and decides to call the company with feedback about the service — but the employee answering the phone immediately turns the issue back on the customer, unwilling to help, being genuinely uninterested in continuing the conversation.

The customer hangs up the phone and thinks “Well, that was a waste of time, so much for great customer service.” 

What’s going on here? The brand is inconsistent, and this will lose them customers.

Employees who know and believe in the brand they work for and understand what the values are will treat customers in a completely different manner.

Brand training helps ensure that employees deliver the same messaging by keeping your brand image consistent at all times.

Communication_SpeakerHub

3. Employee retention

Fact: Hiring a new employee is always more expensive than keeping in-house talent. 

From hiring, onboarding, training, ramp time to peak productivity, the loss of engagement from others due to high turnover, higher error rates because of inexperience…we are not talking about a few extra dollars. For larger companies, the cost can run into the millions.  

Jack Altman, CEO of Lattice, offers a breakdown of the overall annual cost of turnover: if you have a 150 person company with 11% annual turnover, and you spend $25k per person on hiring, $10k on each turnover and development, and lose $50k of productivity opportunity cost on average when (re)filling a role, the annual cost of turnover would cost around $1.57 million. And this is for a relatively small, 150-person company. Read between the lines: lowering your turnover rate adds more to your bottom line. 

Employees who understand and believe in their company are less likely to quit. 

The software company Intuit found that highly engaged employees are 5 times less likely to leave the company voluntarily. That figure is substantial, and translates into more dollars in the bank for your organization. 

Employee retention_SpeakerHub

4. Marketing advantage

From posting on social media about what sets the company apart (like sharing that video your marketing team spent $50K creating,) to authentically connecting with clients and convincing them to buy more products and services, or helping you find investors and affiliates who match your brand’s values… an engaged employee can become a great asset for your company.

Before anything else, you must start at home by selling your brand to your staff. If all you’re doing is offering a short orientation and hoping the rest will fall into place with little or no help from you, you’re taking a massive risk. 

Invest in your team. Invest in building your brand from the inside out. 

Give your employees the knowledge, skills and expertise to represent your brand the way you want it represented. 

Marketing advantage_SpeakerHub

5. Loyalty and commitment

If an employee cannot tell the difference between you and your competitor, they won’t think twice about joining their company the moment the ride gets rough or challenging at yours. 

When staff are crystal clear about what you do, why you do it, and why it matters, they are more likely to develop loyalty towards your brand. 

This could mean that they are more likely to stick around when things get tough. 

They are also more likely to stand up and defend the brand by adamantly supporting it.

If you hit a rocky time, disengaged employees will be the first to jump ship. If you have an entire workforce that feels little to no loyalty to your brand, this could destroy your entire business. 

Brand training cultivates loyalty, and loyalty will keep your company afloat during troubled times. 

Where do you get started with brand training? We’d suggest pulling together your brand ambassadors and letting the creativity flow. 

Oh, wait… who are those brand ambassadors? And where do you find them?

Internal brand ambassadors and speakers

Even if you aren’t familiar with the phrase, you surely know what a brand ambassador is.

In short, brand ambassadors are people promoting your brand for you. 

They include anything from George Clooney swooning over Nescafe (and dragging Matt Damon in for the ride) to your best friend Susan giving you a referral code for free Uber credits raving about how much she loves them. 

Internal brand ambassadors do the same thing: promote your brand, but internally. 

They might:

  •  get on stage and speak at your next company conference, 

  • organize short training sessions on brand values, 

  • stand up to the group of complaining employees at the breakout room lunch table, remind peers about the perks of working for the company and motivate them to stay positive. 

They can be essential in helping you build a strong brand from within. 

Loyalty and commitment_SpeakerHub

How to recognize a brand ambassador from your team 

There will always be employees who are better at promoting your brand internally than others. 

For some, it comes naturally: they already love working for your company and can positively influence other employees. 

But what do they look like? How can you tell who would be a great internal brand ambassador?

Look for someone who: 

  • Regularly shares thoughtful ideas about how the company could improve.

  • Seems to think about the company even while they are not at work. They are self-motivated and inspired to share ideas with you and the rest of the team. 

  • Advocates for your company online without needing to be prompted. For example, they share a new product or initiative on their personal social networks. 

  • Attends every company event, both professional and social, and even volunteer their time on behalf of the company.

  • Is consistently looking for new ways to be more effective and helpful.

  • Always talks positively about the brand, even when things are tough. They may even encourage others to think and speak positively about the brand as well.

  • They are well-respected by other employees. 

Apart from doing your own sleuthing to find the right brand ambassadors, here are a few techniques to find hidden gems from within your employee pool.

3 ways to find brand ambassadors within your company

1. Referrals: If you don’t work with your employees directly, then you are going to have to rely on the people that do: your management team. Ask them who stands out. Ask them who they think best represents the brand. You can ask your team for referrals, who they think the best brand ambassadors would be.

2. Ask them to apply: consider launching a call for brand ambassadors internally so anyone interested and motivated would have an easy way to make themselves visible. This is such an easy way to find talent, and yet many companies simply don’t pick this low hanging fruit. Once you screen candidates, you can devise a training program to ensure they have the speaking and leadership skills that you expect from your brand ambassadors. 

3. SpeakerHub’s SRM (Speaker Relationship Management software): In January 2020, SpeakerHub is launching software whose goal is to help corporate communications departments manage their in-house speakers, ambassadors and brand advocates by connecting them with events, meetups, in-house conferences and external speaking opportunities, and tracking the workflow of their activities. You can start by listing all your in-house brand ambassadors and speakers in your confidential directory, finding matching opportunities that fit their expertise and profiles, and tracking the approval process, workflow and follow-up in a central place. Get in touch to see how we at SpeakerHub can support you with this.

Training brand ambassadors is the best investment you’ll ever make

A strong and robust company is one that can withstand the whims of the market, provide great service and products to its customers, and is positively consistent across the board. But all of this starts by being strong internally.  

One way to encourage this is to ensure your employees are on board, and they know what sets your brand apart. Having a slew of loyal and enthusiastic employees who believe in your brand can make a great difference to the profitability and strength of your company.

Finding brand ambassadors and investing in brand training will help bring your brand to life internally, and ensure that your employees understand what it is they are a part of, so they can tell their colleagues and the whole world why your company matters. 

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