In today’s fast-moving world, it can seem like everything in marketing and sales has changed. The deadlines are shorter, the shelf-life of products has been halved, and consumers always seem to want more. But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed- the value of a loyal audience. A loyal audience can go a step further to become raving fans, and raving fans to brand ambassadors.
What does it mean to have raving fans?
Raving fans are your best customers. They’re the people who hit all your sales, have a household full of your products, and sing your praises from the rooftops. They believe your destination is the best destination, they come back time and time again and they’re happy to help convince others of it. They’re essentially ambassadors for your brand.
Brand ambassadors are on the front line of finding and converting new consumers to your business or destination. The enthusiasm and authenticity they bring to your brand is priceless. In short, they’re your raving fans.
How can you find them?
They’ll probably find you! They’re the people commenting on your social media posts, responding to your emails and surveys, and being engaged with your brand at every possible opportunity. They may even be the people questioning why you’re doing things a certain way- even if it sounds negative. Passion for your brand sometimes masquerades as criticism.
Whether you already know their names or not, they’re out there waiting for you. Take a look at your community to identify the best people. Start with a handful of people who are the most passionate and engaged, and go from there. For destinations, many of these people will likely be locals – from newcomers to life-long residents.
Converting raving fans to brand ambassadors
Engage with them
Whether it’s on social media, via email, or in-person, let them know you’re here and you appreciate them. Figure out how you can best support them- there are many options to make them feel special.
- Share their photos on your social media
- Feature their photos or written work on your website
- Send them merchandise
- Ask for their opinion or provide them with a forum for feedback
- Give them a specific email address or contact information to reach out to for guaranteed access to your team
- Provide them with discount codes to use and share
- Add them to an email list to be first “in-the-know” on new products or events
- Invite them to exclusive events
- Create exclusive events just for them
These relationships take time to develop. These people are turning into mouthpieces for your brand or destination, so it’s vital that you trust them and the way they communicate with their audience. Don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up.
Set them up for success
Ravings fans are already talking about your brand, so empower them to talk for your brand. Provide them with information (even if it’s readily available) so they feel empowered to spread the word to others. By making them feel like they’re a part of a team (or your team), you increase their emotional connection to the brand, which has been proven to increase customer loyalty.
Consider a formal program
Many brands have found success with a formal brand ambassador program. These programs identify and recruit raving fans who in turn become formal ambassadors. For brands, the process can be more straightforward, since the end goal is a tangible product. Destinations face a bit trickier of a process, but that should by no means be discouraging.
Visit Rochester has turned a typical “chamber membership” into a full-blown brand ambassador program. The Visitor Industry Council (or VIC) comprises members of Visit Rochester who meet once a month to discuss exciting happenings in the county, share events, and give feedback on what the tourism office is doing. They further break the membership down into committees and subcommittees, engaging their members in everything from social media to travel trade outreach, and membership engagement. Members also have the opportunity to sign up for “ROC Star” training, to help front-line staff increase their knowledge of the area and be better raving fans for visitors.
These opportunities for engagement give their membership tangible goals to work towards, access to insider information, and a feeling of being part of a bigger team. It also helps Visit Rochester gather new ideas and get feedback from members of their community.
Looking for more? Skift rounded up examples from across the country of destinations who successfully turned locals in brand ambassadors.