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Coca-Cola, Victoria’s Secret, Red Bull, Teach For America, Men’s Wearhouse and Kaplan are just a few of the brands that have been running student brand ambassador programs for years — hiring students to represent their brands on campuses across the country and talk about them to their peers.
Campus representatives go by many names: student ambassadors, student reps, campus ambassadors. They all mean the same thing. But what does this look like? Students talk in front of student organizations before career fairs to hype up a company in attendance, talk about their internship in front of their classes, pass out samples of a beverage company’s newest flavor and, of course, post on social media about their favorite outfits from a brand.
As the CEO of an agency that runs some of the longest-running student brand ambassador programs, I have been asked, “What makes for a top-performing program?” Here are the top six elements you should consider when seeking out students to talk up your brand.
Think beyond monetary compensation for student ambassadors. We all know cash is king, but what separates the good programs beyond that? Students are going to school to figure out what they want to do. Two things you can incorporate to help your ambassadors reach their goals are question and answer sessions with leaders of your company and skill sessions on new topics.
Student ambassadors will be grateful for the opportunity to learn how business leaders got to where they are now. Closely related to this, skill sessions on new topics give students skills that they can take into the workplace. Consider topics like social media marketing, app development, etc. Kaplan Test Prep offers student ambassadors courses that allow them to succeed in their educational goals.
2. A Hands-On Approach
Don’t ever take yourself completely out of the program. I see brands that hand off their entire student ambassador program to another company to run and ask the company to find students who are enthusiastic about the brand. But once these students find out they are not really working for the brand, it will hurt their motivation.
Top-performing companies will often feature student ambassadors on their websites to further showcase the importance of the student ambassadors to the company. This is a great way to show that your company is directly involved and invested in their success.
3. Future Opportunity
Let your ambassadors know that there is a future with your company for top performers. All the programs I mentioned above have hired former student ambassadors. Set aside a human resources rep with a specific email address to answer student ambassador questions about opportunities after graduation.
It’s no surprise that mobile devices are popular among college students. That’s why you need to incorporate mobile elements into your program. There are plenty of documentation tools on mobile devices that allow student ambassadors to provide pictures, videos and notes. Don’t split up documentation tools between multiple websites, dashboards and tools. Eventually, you can build this in-house. For example, Victoria’s Secret PINK has PINK Nation and my agency created the Go Commando App.
5. Work Schedule
Understanding a student’s work schedule is important. Review an academic calendar to determine what is going on and when. Work your activities around that. Don’t put expectations on student ambassadors during finals week or spring break. In my experience, top-performing programs only have students work up to 10 hours a week.
Programs that expect students to come up with the entire marketing plan themselves scream disorganized. Build a program that incorporates goals, what you need to see to deem those goals successful, progress reports and a way to recognize top performers.
Incorporate these six elements into your student ambassador program to ensure your program stays around for the long haul and attracts more consumers from the Gen Z demographic.
December 27, 2018 at 08:15AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs