2 Questions To Ask Before Building Your B2B Ambassador Program

2 Questions To Ask Before Building Your B2B Ambassador Program

A B2B ambassador program is not as common as the sister program – B2C. However, when done well, B2B programs can increase awareness of the brand tenfold and create eventual conversions in the millions or even billions. As a B2B ambassador myself for brands like Adobe (and my agency, Warm Robots, helps to build similar programs), I find the opportunity in B2B programs very exciting. I discuss what makes a truly successful B2B ambassador and affiliate programs with 9 B2B experts who have all been tapped to represent big brands.

1) Kerry O’Shea Gorgone (SAP, Adobe)

What has been your favorite experience as an ambassador in a B2B program and why?

SAP invited me as press to interview CMO Alicia Tillman and attend their “Women in Leadership” event that they hosted during SAP’s annual conference. I was able to see firsthand what SAP is doing to lift women up and help them to reach their full potential.

I also loved when Adobe invited their brand ambassadors (the Adobe Insiders) out to their headquarters in San Jose. We got the opportunity to see the corporate offices, hear from internal innovators who were working on new products, and talk with executives about their vision for the brand. We also got to know our fellow Insiders a bit, which was so valuable.

What advice would you give major brands looking to build out their B2B ambassador programs?

Build relationships. Don’t treat influence marketing as transactional. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t pay influencers. If your influencers are speakers and you want them to present at your event, absolutely pay them. But in between paid gigs, maintain a relationship with influencers, support their work, give them early access to brand launches and events. Keep the connection strong! Respect and support your influencers, and they’ll do the same for you.

2) Ann Tran (British Airways)

What has been your favorite experience as an ambassador in a B2B program and why?

Being a Brand Ambassador with British Airways is a favorite. I’ve had the extreme good fortune the past few years to work with #flyba and share my new-found knowledge with my followers. My last engagement before the COVID-related slowdown, was British Airways’ first Toronto to London route in its brand new, direct-from-the-hangar Airbus A350-1000. For most of us “wanderlusters,” 2020’s pause button on travel has given “restless leg syndrome” new meaning.

It’s difficult to choose one … let’s put it this way: It’s not every day one gets to meet astronauts and party with them in First Class with live music, a bartender, and a gourmet chef while jetting from London to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. This British Airways experience qualifies as a bucket list experience for many. It certainly did for me. Plus, I love learning and interacting with the crew and sharing my #flyba experiences with the audience. There’s always so much backstory.

What advice would you give major brands looking to build out their B2B ambassador programs?

First, when vetting your ambassadors, check their social postings to ensure they are compatible with the brand. Make clear your expectations and allow room for flexibility and creativity. One of my clients had to approve everything. I understand the need for that, but with more due diligence on the front end you can trust your digital creator to do her job. That definitely will reflect in the effectiveness of your brand’s social media campaign. Social media is a relatively new avenue. Keeping up and on top, requires commitment and willingness to learn.

3) Tim Crawford (SAP, Dell, Intel and more)

What has been your favorite experience as an ambassador in a B2B program and why?

Each has their pros / cons. One of the best experiences has been a variety of bidirectional engagement with executives within the company.

What advice would you give major brands looking to build out their B2B ambassador programs?

Don’t look at the relationship as one-direction or transactional. Look at it as a relationship that develops over time. Also, opinion does not replace experience.

4) Helen Yu (IBM, Lenovo, Pypestream, Oracle)

What has been your favorite experience as an ambassador in a B2B program and why?

Being a B2B ambassador is not only an opportunity to become a trusted brand advocate, but also inspires me to constantly refresh my knowledge. The opportunity to connect with the brightest minds in the industry is priceless.

What advice would you give major brands looking to build out their B2B ambassador programs?

Keep it simple and make your success measurable. Partnering with an authentic ambassador who understands your value will infuse energy and inspire your targeted audience.

5) Kevin L. Jackson (AT&T, Dell, IBM, Intel and more)

What has been your favorite experience as an ambassador in a B2B program and why?

Delivering well-documented outcomes under a fairly compensated agreement as an integral part of a Communications Team. These types of experiences establish long-term ROI and build long-term mutually beneficial business relationships.

What advice would you give major brands looking to build out their B2B ambassador programs?

The most effective Influencers have long and deep roots in your industry. Those roots are visible and consistent across multiple communications channels (social media, print/digital magazines, books, professional training courses, etc.). Ambassador programs should feature these types of “professional influencers”. Brands should therefore offer adequate compensation packages over an effective time frame (calendar quarter at a minimum). Stay away from “per tweet” agreements. Those deliver zero long term ROI.

6) Peggy Smedley (Microsoft)

What has been your favorite experience as an ambassador in a B2B program and why?

I have been involved in many from vertical industry markets, association tech, to horizontal technology companies. If I had to only pick one, what quickly comes to mind is the construction vertical and working with Microsoft.

What advice would you give major brands looking to build out their B2B ambassador programs?

The best brand ambassadors have an audience following and are highly respected by the B2B programs for a reason. This isn’t about fame; but some of the best brand ambassadors do have a lot of notoriety as a result of years within their field of expertise. Simply, recognize upfront the value that the best B2B ambassadors always understand industry needs and see market trends before many others.

7) Dorie Clark (Microsoft, Alibaba and more)

What has been your favorite experience as an ambassador in a B2B program and why?

I especially enjoyed working with Microsoft. I created “news you can use” articles for them around productivity, which is one of my favorite topics to write about.

What advice would you give major brands looking to build out their B2B ambassador programs?

The best ambassador relationships promote the brand by creating content that’s genuinely useful to the audience. Being helpful and interesting is the best form of marketing.

8) Lee Odden (IBM, Adobe)

What has been your favorite experience as an ambassador in a B2B program and why?

The experience of being connected to a community really stands out for me. The Adobe Insiders program provides numerous opportunities for participating influencers to connect: with brand content and especially with each other. Building relationships between brand and influencer is important, but when the brand can facilitate relationships between influencers it creates a community. That’s what Adobe has accomplished and it pays off with robust and sustained advocacy for the brand and for other influencers in the program.

What advice would you give major brands looking to build out their B2B ambassador programs?

Very few brands take the time to find out what the influencer wants, what their preferences are for topics and content formats, ideal engagement scenarios and activations. Most brands focus entirely on what they want to get from the influencer and as a result, it creates a mechanical not meaningful experience. Brands should onboard influencers with an effort to understand more about what the influencers goals are and then map them to the most relevant activation opportunities. Everybody gets what they want in that scenario and everybody wins: the brand, the influencers and the customer.

9) Leah Frazier (Dallas Mavericks, Leadpages and more)

What has been your favorite experience as an ambassador in a B2B program and why?

One of the main reasons that I get involved in brand ambassador programs is because I genuinely love the product, service or organization. Therefore, regardless of whether or not I was an ambassador for that particular company or getting paid – it would still be incredibly easy for me to talk about the company and its effects on my business or on my brand growth. I still would have promoted and discussed the brand at hand because I have a personal experience with it and naturally I’m excited to tell others about it.

My favorite experiences have been just organically speaking to people about the brands that I’m affiliated with or an ambassador for — the people then utilizing their products or services and then coming back to me to tell me how much it has changed their life or elevated their business. These are the moments that make everything worth it. As an influencer, I have an ethical responsibility to authentically connect my audience to brands that I trust and that are tried and true. I am humbled that many of my followers look to me as their trusted source and as the person that takes the guesswork out of which companies are a best fit for their business.

What advice would you give major brands looking to build out their B2B ambassador programs?

I actually did a TEDx Talk on this very subject (shameless plug). I believe that brands should truly work in collaboration with the influencer to find a content and/or marketing strategy that works with the influencer’s audience, yet still conveys their brand message and goals. Therefore, do away with the word-for-word copy posting instructions and allow the influencer to use their own language that their audience connects with but that still supports the brand. Allow the influencer to tell you which platform(s) they prefer to post the marketing messages on and where they will get the most engagement, versus the brand dictating that it is mandatory that they post on certain platforms or deliver content in a pre-set context.

Also, work on a long-term strategy with the influencer. Successful influencer campaigns and brand ambassadorships are achieved when the influencer truly markets only a handful of brands – and specifically very few in the same industry — that way their audience can easily dictate after a few postings or sightings, the genuine brand alignment, versus influencers who post a sponsored post every single day from hundreds of different brands. Working long-term with an influencer (beyond one campaign), allows the influencer to truly form a partnership with the brand and also to condition their audience to the brand’s presence.

I'm business helper , i have 20 year experience in business management sector. I help many business owners to grow business. My passion is helping fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed.

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