Small business: Brand ambassadors - Scott Gardiner

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MYOB New Zealand executive director, Scott Gardiner on establishing ambassadors for your brand instead of doing it all yourself

Scott Gardiner, executive director of MYOB New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
Scott Gardiner, executive director of MYOB New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

For many small business owners, particularly those that have started out as sole operators, transitioning clients to work with other staff can be a challenge. Most small businesses are built on relationships. Those customer relationships, which are crucial to businesses growth, can often be centred around the business owner or a key member of staff.

Build trust in other staff

As the business grows, building trust in other staff - or more importantly in the whole brand - is a vital step in a business's development. Without it, the business owner will have no ability to scale up the business in size or diversify the operation.

While investment in the overall brand of a business is an important way of building trust with a client, a business's staff will be key to the success of that strategy. In particular, businesses should seek to identify brand ambassadors within their organisation.

Brand ambassadors

The idea of encouraging the right employees with customer service skills to become brand ambassadors has gained a huge following as businesses of all shapes and sizes embrace social media.

A brand ambassador is an employee who takes your brand and runs with it - putting their face to your brand and promoting your products and services. However, not everyone is naturally social and your employees will have different personalities and objectives.

To help businesses choose brand ambassadors to develop the business, MYOB has produced a guide, available online as part of its employer resource centre.

Building brand ambassadors:

Brand believers

These employees value your brand and have great customer service skills. They promote your brand when given the chance but could feel constrained by what they can, or are willing, to do.

Brand advocates

These are employees who live, eat and breathe your brand. They are active word-of-mouth marketers who live the brand at work and in their communities.

Lead by example

It's unlikely that your staff will spontaneously become ambassadors for your brand or business, so you'll most likely need to step in and help them get started.
Remember, if the company owner and senior managers live and breathe the brand, employees are more likely to follow suit.

Involve employees

Consider involving your employees in brand decisions - it helps them get behind your brand history and future direction.

Emphasise the impact each employee has on your brand, allowing for personal interpretation. If an employee uses your social media platforms responsibly, they should be allowed to show personal expression (within certain guidelines, of course) to promote your offering. It all adds up to a more credible marketing voice.

Investing in in-house brand awareness and promotion provides your business with a new, cost-effective, word-of-mouth marketing channel, with several spin-off benefits.
Employees will be more engaged and feel more involved in their jobs, while customers will receive better attention and service. Any issues and complaints will be resolved quickly and sales and profit are likely to increase too. It's a win-win situation.

The product journey

But before you rush out and choose your ambassadors, there's one obvious ingredient you'll need - a good, solid product or service on which to build your brand or reputation.

If you are developing a new product, or diversifying your service offering, your employees can't be expected to promote your brand if they don't understand what they are selling.

Even more than your customers, your employees have to take the product journey with you. They need to understand what you are trying to achieve and why, and especially what the benefits of your new approach will be to your loyal customers.

If you need to, spend some time refining your products and services so you can get to the point where your employees are naturally proud to be promoting what you do.

See full article:

Tell us your David and Goliath stories where your small business has created a product that takes on a big dominant brand and is making inroads.

- NZ Herald

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