Brand Ambassador Vs Sponsor
Brand ambassadors and sponsors are part of a marketing strategy called influencer marketing. The goals of influencer marketing range from building brand awareness to creating engagement and create value for the brand they associate themselves with.
The influencer marketing platform has a wide range of members, including influencers, bloggers, brand ambassadors and brand advocates. Another key component of influencer marketing is that of influencer technology. This technology delivers data and insights to companies that are significant for a successful influencer-brand relationship. The benefit of using a tech platform, like Influencity, is access to live market information, which can be a key component of success in influencer marketing campaigns.
Sponsors and brand ambassadors, though different in their marketing approach, have the same goal – building brand awareness.
Celebrities are a well-known example of brand ambassadors. Businesses, big and small, and large corporate companies become sponsors when they associate themselves with a well-known event, activity, individual, or an organization. Music and sports events, and charitable activities, are some common sponsorship events.
Let us take a closer look at each of these marketing approaches in this article.
A brand ambassador is a paid influencer that supports a brand for a long term. Sometimes, influencers may be brought on board for a short term, say for the duration of a campaign. Brand ambassadors are not such short-term influencers. They differ from other influencers in their lengthy association with a brand.
The position of a brand ambassador is the most coveted position in influencer marketing. Brand ambassadors can be differentiated from other influencers in terms of their influence as well. They are a premier group of influencers that wields a lot of influence.
Some ways in which brand ambassadors work with a brand:
- They are an expert on all matters related to the brand they support
- Brand owners equip them with insider information
- They receive a retainer usually
- Brand ambassadors promote the brand and their association with it across all marketing channels, online or offline
Businesses can derive tangible benefits and intangible value through brand ambassadors. Some key benefits of using brand ambassadors for your influencer marketing include:
- They bring credibility to your campaign and your brand. People do not always trust brand messages coming from the brands themselves. According to a Nielsen survey, consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations the most.
Brand ambassadors provide that voice of authenticity that consumers are more likely to listen to, and trust. Brand ambassadors are not big corporations or companies. They are real people that consumers see everyday and love. As a result, consumers are more likely to connect with them better.
Brand ambassadors are real people that use your products. So, the review and feedback they give come from real-life experience and not fake. Consumers find it easier to trust real-life product/ service experiences, especially when it comes from a well-respected individual.
- Brand ambassadors are individuals with a huge following already. These are people that already know about the person and trust him/ her for their personality, work, attitude, or opinions.
So, when companies use a brand ambassador, they already have a trusted base of consumers. They can reach this consumer community more efficiently with a brand ambassador.
- Brand ambassadors are the go-to experts for anything related to your brand. Consumers are more likely to trust an expert than others when they are making a purchase decision.
Brand ambassadors not only use your products or services but also have insider brand facts, which makes their information, advice, and feedback reliable.
- Ambassadors offer an efficient means to make your brand more human. People like to buy from a company that has not only a name but also a trusted face behind it. Consumers find it easier to connect with your brand when there is a known face representing it.
Lululemon engaged the local community and selected brand ambassadors from the community.
The brand ambassadors served as go-to experts for the company. The local people trusted them more as they were one of them. The company saw a substantial increase in its revenue as a result.
Sponsorships are of different types. A well-known example, perhaps, is that of a sports or non-sports organization associating itself with a sporting event, team, venue, or a sporting organization.
Some examples of companies using sponsorship programs include Nike, Red Bull and Pepsi Co. These companies have used sponsorship programs as a major marketing strategy.
Nike usually sponsors sporting events especially in football:
Red Bull usually sponsors sporting events, generally in extreme sports:
Pepsi usually sponsors sporting events like basketball:
The total global spending on sponsorship marketing has increased by a huge amount over 2007 to 2018. Statistics show that sponsorship spending has doubled over this timeline.
So, what are the benefits that make sponsorship programs so attractive for companies, small, big and medium?
Here are some benefits that companies would not want to miss:
- Huge Brand Visibility: A company sponsoring a major cultural festival or a popular sporting event is sure to grab eyeballs. Whether you are a startup or an already established company, the right sponsorship can propel your brand visibility several notches higher.
- Improved Brand Awareness: People and press talk about the event your brand is associated with on social networks and other marketing channels. This can lead to huge brand mentions across media and social media. Such widespread promotion builds awareness for your brand.
Sponsorships, when weaved in expertly into your marketing campaigns, can bring in brand awareness of a scale that would otherwise be impossible to achieve.
- Enhance Brand Reputation: Association with major events, activities and organizations, conveys your business, ethical, and social standards to people. Consumers want to be associated with brands that innovate, deliver on promises, and care.
With the right sponsorship programs, you can show your target audiences that your brand stands for what they believe in.
- Achieve a Competitive Edge: With so many players in the market and many more efficient marketing strategies to contend with, setting a competitive edge can be a demanding task.
A sponsorship program can make the task easier and focused for you. When your brand is associated with a popular event, activity or organization, people notice you more than your competitors. They tend to remember your brand more than that of your competitors, leading to better brand retention.
- Get Value Delivered: Depending on the goals of your sponsorship program, you can achieve set marketing goals. Be it brand awareness, brand reputation-building, conversions, sales or lead acquisition, a well-developed sponsorship program can deliver on any marketing objective.
The massive scale of benefits that a well-chosen sponsorship program can deliver can perhaps be realized through the example set by Sara Lee, a food company owner.
Sara Lee, owner of Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm sponsored the BlogHer conference event, a popular event that witnesses over 3, 000 attendees. BlogHer is an online community of female bloggers. The conference is a popular 2-day event.
As a major sponsor, Lee’s company grabbed eyeballs. Lee also used the opportunity to offer cooking demonstrations. Attendees were also given an opportunity to taste her food.
The sponsorship helped Lee build brand visibility, make direct contact with customers, and deliver brand demonstrations as well. As a blogger, each of these attendees wielded considerable influence online, which added to the value that Lee received.
Ambassadors Vs Sponsor
Brand ambassadors and sponsors work well for different marketing situations.
A brand ambassador can be beneficial in the following situations:
- You are launching a new product that benefits specific audiences. A brand ambassador can help you reach these audiences and gain their trust.
- You are launching a new product or service. A trustworthy voice can add great value to your product/ service. A brand ambassador can generate credibility among audiences. The ambassador experiences the product/ service and is therefore the right choice to deliver a feedback or opinion regarding the same.
- You are a small business or a business with a limited budget. A brand ambassador can save you the costs on marketing and labor.
- You are looking to reach a specific or limited set of audiences.
A sponsorship program is beneficial for these marketing goals:
- You want faster and wider exposure for your brand, and you have the budget to support your marketing objective.
- You want to target a larger scale of audiences and get them to trust your brand and buy your products/ services.
- You are looking to enhance your brand’s public image.
- You are looking for a whopping media exposure for your brand.
- You are looking to expand your business, C-Suite, or community network.
What awaits us in the coming years?
Companies are discovering new ways to derive the benefits of sponsorship programs. The rise of virtual events has added a new dimension to sponsorship marketing. Companies are also encouraging people to experience new forms of event consumption. For example, Visa encouraged a drive-in experience for the annual Toronto International Film Festival event. The event took place virtually in 2020.
With more and more consumers relying on word-of-mouth and peer recommendations, brand ambassadorship programs are also set to witness a rise in the coming years.