Posts

When should you say ‘yes’ to being a brand ambassador | Rhea Freeman

When should you say 'yes' to being a brand ambassadorWhen should you say yes to being a brand ambassador… and when should you run for the hills?

As brand ambassadorships (let’s pretend that’s a term) continue to increase, I think it’s a question that needs addressing. There are lots of different ways that brands recruit ambassadors. Some ways make complete sense. Some of the attributes they look for, to me at least, are bang on. Some brands… well, not so much. I asked my Small & Supercharged Facebook group members who ran businesses what attributes they looked for in a brand ambassador. And they answered… and those answers are in my ‘what should you look for in a brand ambassador‘ blog. But to give a balanced argument (and to help both sides!), I also asked brand ambassadors in my group what they looked for when it came to representing a brand and being a brand ambassador for it. Now, I must stress that the people in my Small & Supercharged group are very switched on. Many are not ‘just’ riders, they have created brands and businesses around their sport and passion. These are not the kind of people that will send a DM to an account they have never heard of. Because I am sure that you, like I, have had this too.

When should you say yes to being a brand ambassador?

So, to help give brands a bit more information, to help them woo their dream brand ambassador, I asked a few more questions, and here’s what they said…

Laura Szuca from WannaBe In The Ribbons said: From being a brand ambassador for a couple of brands I would say it has to be a brand I know, use and rate highly! I think any endorsement needs to be genuine and authentic so you can’t just put your name to something you know nothing about.

Katie Lawrence from Deciphering Dressage said: I like to be a brand ambassador for a company who wants to know me, my horse, my story and form a team.

The first few companies I worked with didn’t even recognise me when I went and said hello to them… I changed my stance and what I wanted and love the companies I now work with. Many have become good friends! And in turn I’m happy to work really bloody hard to represent them.

Gaelann East from The Orchard Holding and Wacky Racers Adventures said: I guess it’s a brand/item that is in my top ten must haves that I have a passion for and also need. That way content comes easily and the content is real and honest from my soul. I never run out of things to say about the lovely companies that support me. Maybe not number 1 on my list of qualities but I guess for me to be there for them, it’s an important one so I can do my best

Nicki Strong from Headstrong Equestrian said: As a brand ambassador – synergy!

“The combined power of a group of things when they are working together that is greater than the total power achieved by each working separately” So I guess that’s a way of saying that we both have something to offer one another; before applying for a brand ambassador role I’d always ask myself whether I’m a good fit for the brand / product / customer base, so I can genuinely add value and effectively demonstrate and market their products to help build brand awareness and drive sales – and also whether it’s a brand whose product / service / ethos I believe in and would like to be associated with and could benefit from partnering with.

Tina Wallace from Life On The Left Rein said: I would only ever work alongside/represent/promote a brand that I would willingly spend money on their products myself… far too many people purely want to be a BA just to get “free stuff”, not to enable them to actively promote a brand that they are genuinely passionate about and feel other “equestrians” would benefit from/enjoy using said product/s!!

Wiola Grabowska from Aspire Equestrian said: I’m in a process of working with a brand as their ambassador and my number 1 priority is shared values. I personally see working with brands as an extension of my PR as well as interesting collaboration to create something of value. My coaching business is strongly certain values oriented so I’m very happy to be able to work with a business that see this as equally important

Beth Eckley said:  I try to ask/apply to brands that I already use or rate highly, or if a new brand, one that I think would work well mutually for both of us and is something I would feel I could strongly recommend on its principles and products. I’m sponsored or a brand ambassador for four brands that I love and I hope we all work well for each other

Victoria Brant from Wimpy Eventer said: I would only represent a brand that respected the value of my content and its creation. Posting all the time about products is not what I want, loyalty is paramount but I’m not an advertising board.

 

What should you look for in a brand ambassador? | Rhea Freeman

what should you look for in a brand ambassadorWhat should you look for in a brand ambassador? Many, many companies are now appointing people to be ambassadors for their brand… and what is required varies enormously too. Your requirements and your expectations will, of course, influence what you should look for in a brand ambassador. Don’t discount these at all. However, to give you a bit of help, I decided to do a little research for you. I asked my Small & Supercharged group on Facebook what they look for in a brand ambassador. As this group is bursting with small business owners, many of whom use brand ambassadors to help promote their brand, I thought it was a good place to ask.

Now, you don’t have to look for the same things in a brand ambassador, far from you – you do you. Consider what you need, your brand, your expectations, your demographic and your strategy. Here are just a few ideas you might like to pick up, kindly provided by people over in my fab group…

The question I asked was: ‘what do you look for in a brand ambassador?’

Amy GriffithsAmy Griffiths Photography/Hoofprints – someone easily likeable both in real life and social media. To both me as a brand and also other people. Everything else can be discussed/worked upon but likeability isn’t something a person can change very easily! The other obvious thing is it has to be someone who uses my product or service.

Katie MortimoreKatie Mortimore Photography – Authenticity! Too many relationships are about money and not about a product on both sides.

Danielle HolmesBlack Nova Designs –  I think they have to be interested in what you offer, anyone can be a brand ambassador but if they don’t know what you do or why then promoting isn’t going to be easy.

Lydia DuceLD Equestrian – High quality content, I think it is hard to find this now with so many new bloggers/vloggers and influencers.

Sarah SJ JohnstoneApt Cavalier – Personality- my three ambassadors are all really likeable, hilarious and genuinely fun to be around. I think it’s important for that to shine through in photo shoots, social media posts etc. They all have fierce passion for the sport, which is really important to me as an “Eventing Brand”, not just a fashion brand.

Emily GaileyEquus Photo – Authenticity and being a genuinely nice person. I am such good friends with my brand ambassadors, we all hang out, we help each other out with our horses and they seem to genuinely love working with me. I think people can see that it’s a proper relationship instead of them just working with me for free stuff…which in turn makes potential clients more interested.

Emma-Jayne RothwellWoof Wear– Personality. Oodles and oodles of it. You’ll be ‘the face’ of the brand meeting people you wouldn’t normally meet or converse with, you’ll need to confidently talk about product to customers and the public, you may need to conduct course walks, talks, personal appearances, yard visits and attend events. You may also (hopefully regularly!) be on the winner’s podium and need to speak clearly and concisely and memorably, and finally, with the meteoric rise of video countering content collapse on all social media, your brand will most definitely need you to step up and join the revolution. So yep, you need to be choc full of personality.

Kate Owen Pony & Pup Photography–  I look for genuine people that are authentic, love their horses and work hard at it, aren’t afraid to post about the good times and the bad! And they have to already engage with and support your brand.

Victoria ArcherEquissage – I look for an ethical and professional person with no bad history. A ‘good influence’ to the public and I then associate my brand with those.

Janine KellThe Golden Paste Co – Authenticity. We aim for our brand ambassadors to be current customers who use and understand the product and its capabilities.

Melanie ClarihewMackenzie & George – I’ve had to think really hard about this as it’s multi fold; they need to be genuine, authentic love for the brand and what we do, super lovely people who respect their audience, and loyal.

But, the one most important factor For me, is willingness to work with us to produce original content.

Laura WilliamsBoudica Equestrian – The most important thing I look for in an Ambassador for my brand is shared value of equine welfare. I don’t look for a person who just wins prizes or has a huge following on social media, but someone who puts the needs of their horse first and strives to keep learning and improving their riding and knowledge for the horse’s benefit. As a small business I need someone who has similar ethics and beliefs. That way we can work well and closely together.

Helena Smith – From a brand point of view – approachable and an ideal customer, that can truly engage and promote the brand without it seeming like a hard sell. It also helps that others can see themselves in your ambassadors shoes, making products seem achievable and needed.

Tamara HudlestoneThe Very Important Pad – A brand ambassador needs to be engaged and proactive; not chased all the time .

Jenni WinterFlying Changes Coaching – For me I choose someone who is open and honest in their social media. Someone who doesn’t come across as “salesy” because working as a Mindset and Performance Psychology Coach means that my BAs need to be real and get people on board that way. Mindset is such a hot topic right now so they need to walk the talk.

So, what should you look for in a brand ambassador?

It’s fair to say that while the Small & Superchargers had slightly different ways of wording it, authenticity, being friendly and having a genuine affinity with the product and brand are essentials. Of course, there are lots of others things you can add to your list, but if you have these qualities as the foundation, it’s a great place to start.

What qualities do you look for in a brand ambassador? 

Can you be an ambassador for too many brands?

Can you be an ambassador for too many brandsCan you be an ambassador for too many brands? I was asked this question for a recent Facebook and Instagram Live. Not only was I very. very sure of the answer (yes), but there was a lot of support for this from business owners too. There are, however, variables on the number. Being a brand ambassador can be great for brand and ambassador, but it’s not always. And, as a brand ambassador, if you’re overstretched and underdelivering, it won’t end well.

Can you be an ambassador for too many brands?

You might have noticed a surge in the use of the term brand ambassador. It used to be a fairly rare ‘thing’ but, with the rise of social media, it’s become a lot more popular. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, it’s a grey area. Having a lot of anything can reduce its kudos and can make what should feel like a rare opportunity a lot less ‘special’. But that’s a different subject.

People who are active on social media, who produce good content and engage with their audience are more likely to be asked to be brand ambassadors. When you apply for this accolade or are asked, the chances that any brand worth their salt will have done a little research into you and what you do. Now, these people (who are active on social media, have good engagement, etc) are not all that common… and that means that they can find themselves on the receiving end of a lot of requests. Yep, it’s really flattering and yes, you will probably get lots of lovely free things… but let’s just take a breath and have a little think…

If you are a brand ambassador, the brand will expect something from you

It doesn’t have to be a kidney or your first born, but there will be some pay back. If you’re supplied with products, the brand will expect to see these appear on your social media feeds, on your blog or vlog… and they will expect you to use the items. All of these things take time. Yes, you get the free stuff, but it all comes with an expectation. And so it should… giving stuff away for free is REALLY easy. But if that were the objective, you might not have been picked and the ‘contest’ would have been very different.

So. Yes. You get free things. But they’re not free. You’re expected to give something back and that will take time.

Some brands are flexible

Some brands give brand ambassadors a free rein and don’t give strict criteria. I personally think this is a good policy and you get to see who ‘gets’ it and who really doesn’t. It can be quite eye opening from the other side of the fence. This does not mean that every single post has to include a brand’s product, but it should feature organically in the content because. Wait for it. YOU SHOULD WANT TO WEAR OR USE IT. If a brand is flexible on the content you create, nurture this and support them. But be aware that just because they aren’t kicking off, they will be watching and waiting.

Lots of brands = no time

If you are looking to create content for lots of different brands, be aware of how much time this will take. You might find that, very quickly, you run out of time because of what you should be doing for others. This might mean your own social media suffers, or worst still, that your real life does! This is a real, genuine issue. Being a brand ambassador should not take away from your enjoyment of what you do. And having too many could well do this.

Conflicts

Lordy… this is a big one. Many brands have more than one type of product, and some have MANY. If you’re the brand ambassador for a retailer, they will carry lots of products. So what does this mean in terms of who else you can be an ambassador for? You need to find out. If you’re saying that ‘this x is the best ever’ on one post, and your next post states that something else is… what does that prove? You’re fickle? You can be bought? Your advice can’t be trusted? No one wants this… and you certainly don’t. If you work with people who have very specific products, you can take on more brand ambassadorships, if you work for people who have a range of products, this becomes a lot more challenging…

 

So, yes, you can become an ambassador for too many brands, but the actual number depends on a lot of factors. Being clear on what is expected from each party is crucial from the get-go, and from then you can work out whether or not they fit in with your current constraints and other brand ambassadorships.

If you’d like more hints and tips connected to PR, marketing, influencers, business development and more, don’t forget to join my newsletter– you can subscribe here

Could you be a brand ambassador?

Could you be a brand ambassador?A little while ago, I wrote an article for Horse & Hound about this subject, well, could you be an equestrian brand ambassador, more precisely. Brand ambassadors take up a fair amount of my time. By which I mean looking at them, working with them, dealing with enquiries about being one for a brand of mine. The list goes on!

So, could you be a brand ambassador?

The Horse & Hound article is a must read, and I have some great advice from some big brands including Ariat, Hiho Silver and Saracen Horse Feeds. And the insight these brands gave, through working with brand ambassadors every day, is absolutely bang on and brilliant. If you’re a brand looking to work with brand ambassadors, I would urge you to have a read, and if you’re a rider hoping to become a brand ambassador, please read it too.

Equestrian brand ambassador dos (whether you’re looking to be one, or you are one!)

I thought, to help provide a little extra guidance on the issue, a list of dos and don’ts would be in order… and if you feel I have missed any then please do let me know.

  • Have a genuine affinity with the brand you’re an ambassador for. If you’re applying a scattergun approach and emailing everyone, including brands you’ve never used, it’s not a good place to be.
  • Get your own house in order. Make sure you own social media, website, etc is good. If you can’t look after your own brand, why would I trust you with one of mine?
  • It’s not all about you. Think what you can offer not what you want.
  • Give it enough time. If you’re approaching someone and you promise the world, make sure you have time to deliver it.
  • Be honest, authentic and genuine. Always. Being false will annoy your audience and hurt your credibility… which is not what any brand wants to be associated with…
  • Start creating content, featuring the brands you like and own, with no ulterior motive. I always try and tag the brands I’m wearing and using because I (believe it or not) get quite a few messages from people asking me where I got my hat from/what bracelet I’m wearing, etc. From a brand point of view, it fills my heart with joy when people tag a brand I work with because I love seeing kit in action and it also means I have the potential of user generated content I can share. And that makes me very happy.
  • Be creative. When you do go in for the big ask, after you’ve put in a lot of groundwork I hasten to add, don’t just offer the obvious. Think about what you can do that’s different and makes you a better proposition…
  • Be consistent. Show up when you should on your social media and website even when you have zero energy. People who are inconsistent pose a risk as they might not deliver.
  • There’s loads more… but these are a few top ones…

Equestrian brand ambassador don’ts (again, whether you’re looking to be one or you are one!)

As important as the dos in my world!

  • Don’t email every company in the world who makes products you would like to own. Buy the products, use them, make sure you like them and would be happy to be associated with them.
  • Be careful you don’t work for too many brands as you will run out of time to deliver what you need to.
  • Don’t work for brands that directly conflict. Many brands have products that overlap, but think about what they’re known for the best or what their messaging talks about the most and don’t tread on their toes. It does not go down well.
  • Don’t let your ego get out of hand. It’s lovely to have the support of brands, but be aware that arrogance is an ugly quality and won’t win fans with your current supporters or future ones. Trust me on this one.
  • Don’t become a pain. If someone says thanks but no thanks, don’t keep barraging them with messages and emails. By all means keep using their products and tagging them – prove that they should back you in the future, but becoming a pain in neck is not a good strategy.
  • Don’t send a FB message begging for sponsorship. Just don’t. Email. Find the right person, PLEASE DON’T SEND FB MESSAGES.
  • Don’t work with people who don’t fit your values. If you’re anti-fur, don’t work with someone who sells fur, for example. It confuses the message. And will annoy your audience. While you’re working with them as a brand ambassador for their brand, YOU ARE YOUR BRAND. Protect this.
  • Don’t behave badly. I mean in real life and online. Our lives are captured on social media these days and if you’re out at the weekend getting blind drunk and vomiting in an alleyway (sorry… a bit graphic!) and that is plastered all over social media, how does that reflect you as a brand AND the businesses you’re connected to? I know it sounds like I’m being a killjoy, but I mean this from you point of view too. Trust me on this…
  • Don’t feel you’re not worthy because you haven’t ridden at the Olympics. A good, engaged following doesn’t always go hand in hand with ridden prowess. Find your USP and create your content around that. That is what a possible supporter will want to get involved with. It doesn’t always have to be that you’re at the top of your sport.

 

I’m really thrilled with my article on Horse & Hound, and I’ve genuinely had some really lovely feedback from it, from brands and riders alike. So if you’re looking to become a brand ambassador for an equestrian brand, you have to have a read!

Hiho, Hiho, it’s off to Blenheim I go! Instagram takeover

Blenheim horse trials instagram takeoverI’m very, very excited to be off to Blenheim today… well, I’m writing this on the Thursday night, but I’m off to Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials tomorrow (Friday), and I am very excited. I adore Blenheim- it’s one of my favourite events, and this year is a teeny bit more exciting…

Why is this year’s Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials more exciting than normal?

Well, not only have I been announced as an official Hiho brand ambassador (I mean, I am like a walking Hiho display most of the time as the Cherry Roller Bangle, Cherry Roller Necklace, Fairfax & Favor Charm, Foxtail and Snaffle Ring never leave my wrists, neck or hand!), but it gets better…

But it gets better…

Tomorrow, I will be doing my first Hiho Instagram takeover in this role. I have taken over Hiho’s Instagram before on a number of occasions, but as myself it seems a bit weird… and a bit exciting. And I’m really looking forward to it. I believe in Hiho more than I can express. I have been a fan of the company and the jewellery LONG before I started working for them, and have been actively promoting the brand and pieces, not just to the press and online world for years, but to my family and friends, and all over my social media channels.

And, in my view, that makes the difference

In my very humble opinion, a brand ambassador SHOULD love and wear the products that they are a brand ambassador for even when they’re not meant to…or they don’t have to. It should be interwoven into their own content as much as anything for the brand. Why? Because a brand ambassador should have a real affinity with the brand. I’m also relishing the opportunity to really get under the skin of the brand ambassador experience in a more public way. To try and test my theories first hand and to help better advise the influencers that I work with. Because if you don’t do it yourself, how can you?

Pop on over to Hiho’s Instagram page today and follow my story and posts from Blenheim Palace… it should be fun!

 

Should you sponsor someone?

Should you sponsor someone?This blog is all about whether or not sponsorship is a good idea for you and your business. In my business group, Small and Supercharged, many people talk about sponsorship and it’s a subject that I think many business owners think about. Many feel it’s a ‘no brainer’ or something that they must do, but I’m here to tell you it isn’t. This is something that I am passionate about, actually, I’ve written about it before and produced some videos too…here’s a link to my previous blogs, videos and even a podcast!

You have to make sure everyone wins from the arrangement

You might think I’m anti sponsorship. I’m not. I’m against the wrong kind of sponsorship where nobody really wins long term. The sponsor feels they have no return on their investment, and the person who is sponsored gets support cut very quickly, because they haven’t delivered. Who wins here? The person who secured the sponsorship received some product, maybe even a bit of money, but not for long. And now they have a bitter taste about the business they were working with, and the sponsor has a very bitter taste about them and, often, sponsoring anyone else. No one wins. This is why sponsorship isn’t always good. However, I’m here to give you some food for thought on sponsorship – here are my top 10 things to think about…

  • It’s not a no brainer. You don’t HAVE to sponsor anyone, so take your time and make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re doing and you’ve worked out a way that it can benefit you and them.
  • Pick carefully. If you’re in business, you will get a LOT of people asking for your money and products. Don’t feel pressured. Pick carefully.
  • Work out what you want from the deal. Do you want social media content? Blogs? Vlogs? Videos? Would you like your sponsored person to come to events and maybe your shop? Would you like them to wear your logo when they’re out and about? Have a list of what you’d like.
  • Be flexible. A list is good, but listen to and consider other ideas provided by the potential sponsored person. They might have other sponsors and, therefore, some of your wish list isn’t possible, but they might have some other thoughts that could work.
  • What are you going to do for them? Can you help promote them to your audience through the content they provide? Sell yourself as well as them.
  • Be clear. Be crystal clear on how often you expect contact. How many blogs/vlogs a year/month, for example? Don’t assume anything. Also explain what could happen if these aren’t provided, for example, will the support stop?
  • How will you do it? Most people support with product, especially to start with. Some sponsors call people supported with product ‘ambassadors’, some people say they’re sponsored. It’s terminology really.
  • Look at people’s reach. Make sure the people that you’re choosing to work with have a reach and a network that’s of use. And don’t just look at the number of people who like a Facebook page. Look at the interactions and engagement.
  • Look at the quality of the content. They might produce a blog each week and fill their Instagram feed with pics, but if the copy is full of typos and the pictures are poor quality, are they right for your brand?
  • Look at personal accounts too. If you sponsor someone, it’s not just their ‘official’ page that you need to look at. Look at personal Facebook pages too. See how they behave in their ‘personal’ life. It matters. Nothing is that private when it’s made it onto the internet.

What do you think about sponsorship?

I’d love to hear your experiences with sponsorship. Have you attracted a sponsor? How did it work? Do you sponsor people? How does it work for you?