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Local clothing company capitalizes on brand ambassador program success
Written by: Maggie Chandler
Brand ambassador. It’s the latest position businesses in all sectors – from Google to Lululemon, Nip and Fab to Bud Light – are scrambling to fill. The trend has even caught on in Madison, Wisconsin where some local businesses are having success with their own brand ambassador programs.
Wiscawear Clothing & Gear, a Madison-based company that sells Wisconsin themed T-shirts and tank tops, has a brand ambassador program. Justin Walker, owner of the company, said that he has seen advantages of having one.
“While the company is making sales from the brand ambassadors’ effort, they’re getting paid, too, at the same time,” Walker said.
Although Walker thinks Wiscawear Clothing & Gear’s program has been a successful business model, he said there are challenges as a small local business.
Compared to corporate businesses, Walker said Wiscawear Clothing & Gear has less money and isn’t as established. The business also must compete with corporate giants such as Under Armour, which has a sports apparel contract with the University.
Moses Altsech, a professor at UW-Madison’s School of Business, said although local businesses have a smaller market to reach with brand ambassadors, the quality of the audience may be more important than the number of views.
“Sometimes local businesses have somewhat more of a challenge when it comes to getting someone who has a lot of eyes on them,” Altsech said. “On the other hand, you could say that it’s not going to be the size that matters, it’s the relevance of the audience that that person reaches.”
Altsech described Fiskars Scissors and Hanes as “boring brands” that used creative ad campaigns to reward loyal fans and followers. Altsech said the buzz and story surrounding their products could be reproduced on a local level if businesses allow their die-hard fans special engagement.
“You create some sort of exclusivity, I guess, but you’re not dependent on a single influencer,” said Altsech. “You could certainly do that at the local level. Sometimes instead of following a trend, you create one.”
But there were times when Walker never got to test a post’s audience relevance. This was because Walker ran the risk of giving a brand ambassador free product. They never posted and he lost merchandise.
“Make sure you’re giving away the product to people you can trust,” Walker said.
Despite Walker’s issues with the brand ambassador program, he said businesses’ biggest misconception about marketing is the cost. For Walker, brand ambassadors are a worthy investment.
“The best way, I would say, if you want to do something for free, would be to have a network of friends or a team of people who would be willing to market your product to their own networks,” Walker said. “You’re going to have to pay for some marketing in order to get your name out there.”
How aiding local businesses benefits the community
Written by: Kristin Washagan