What’s your brand? It’s a question those of us in the Communications and Marketing space hear frequently. Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos describes brand as “…what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” For better or worse, he’s right. Your brand, your reputation, it’s how we build our membership, increase investments and, in return, can deliver value to our investors and accomplish more for our communities.
A critical aspect of our branding success is ensuring we are the ones telling our story, rather than letting someone else do it for us. While the usual outlets are always there for spreading our message – newsletter, blogs, social media, news media, events and programs – our Chamber took a different approach. A clever marketing expert once said, “good marketing makes the company looks smart, great marketing makes the customer feel smart”? That’s where we are headed and engaging our best spokespeople in the process – our volunteers.
We created a Global Ambassadors program. Engaging our Board of Directors, we spent several hours collecting facts, key messages, and anecdotes defining our Chamber and our community, and compiled this information into a communication guide book. The goal of developing this guide was to create accurate, powerful messages while providing consistency and effectiveness in telling our Chamber and our community story.
Then we challenged our Board to use the guide and promote us at every opportunity, every interaction whether that is while checking out at the grocery store or on an international business flight. We got their buy-in by being part of the process. And by enlisting these ambassadors to promote our Chamber and our community, it broadens the social circles of people who are interested in what we are offering. Not to mention, they are more receptive to listening because they already trust the messenger.
Following this exercise, our Board shared extremely positive feedback. One Board member shared with us their conversation on an international flight opened the door to a new vendor and a new lead for a branch in our community.
After word got out (via these newly trained Global Ambassadors), our community partners at the Convention & Visitors Bureau, the City, our school district and residential association expressed interest in doing similar exercises with their respective stakeholders and jointly working together to develop key messaging for our community and compiling it into a central communications bank. Development of this resource is currently underway.
We’re a mighty team of 16 brand ambassadors at our Chamber but together, we’re building an army of Global Ambassadors who are enthusiastic, engaged and educated on who we are, what we do and why everyone should be a part of it. With their help, we’re positively transforming what people are saying about us – especially when we aren’t in the room.