How to Turn Every Lab Employee Into a Brand Ambassador
Water labs and giant marketing budgets, much like a fish and dry land, are two things that don't really go together. The extra resources a lab typically gets go toward improving equipment or testing procedures, not marketing efforts. After all, keeping your community's water safe is far more important than getting a million social media followers, right?
Well, not necessarily. It's all about perspective. Water labs have a lot to gain through dedicated marketing efforts, especially on social media — and that's where turning your team members into brand ambassadors can help. These spokespeople can get your lab on the radar of corporations and small business owners who may not be familiar with what you do — or may not think they need your services. The best part is it's an extremely inexpensive strategy to execute when you tap your own employees for the role.
Brand ambassador training also costs much less than traditional advertising, yet delivers big results in terms of awareness and credibility. According to the Institute for Public Relations, 82 percent of companies now have formal employee advocacy programs in place to help them humanize the company, grow brand reach, improve employee engagement, and win support for change initiatives.
Water lab managers looking to optimize their limited marketing budgets can leverage this idea by training their employees to be brand ambassadors. Your goal is to cultivate a team excited to communicate your company's values in their own authentic voices.
What Is a Brand Ambassador?
A brand ambassador is someone who publicly represents your company in a positive light, helping to increase awareness, generate repeat business, and attract new talent.
Your employees personify your lab to the public, whether they're assisting customers, attending industry conferences, or posting updates about their job on social media. Because these employees have so many opportunities for interaction with external audiences, they're ideally suited to become brand ambassadors to promote your lab.
What makes for a truly effective brand ambassador? Within the context of a water testing lab, they are someone who:
- Is highly engaged with the company and its mission to protect the environment and public safety
- Likes sharing positive messages about the company
- Helps in building customer loyalty for your brand by communicating what your company is known for, such as fast turnarounds, customer service, or comprehensive testing options
Clarify Your Story
For your employees to be effective brand ambassadors, they need to communicate the same messages around your company and its vision to keep the environment and people safe.
Training and communications, in general, should clarify how your lab helps customers and what makes your company unique. But if you want messages from your brand ambassadors to be truly memorable, make sure to avoid convoluted mission or vision statements that sound canned. Instead, focus on simple value statements that are easy to remember and natural to say.
Establish Social Media Ground Rules
Setting expectations is key when training brand advocates and will help your water lab avoid social media dust-ups that could hurt your reputation.
This training should cover your organization's social media policy, focusing on topics such as: examples of what's acceptable — and not acceptable — to share on social media; preferred language referring to your lab and its services, as well as actions and language to avoid; and legal responsibilities and consequences.
Circulate Shareable Content
Making it easy for brand ambassadors to talk up your lab starts with giving them great content as a jumping-off point. Whether you use a weekly email newsletter or centralize branded content on an internal hub, it's important these materials are easily accessible for your ambassadors. Make it a point during trainings to include instructions on how employees can find and share this company content — and don't forget to have them follow your company on social media.
Your employee brand ambassadors should feel empowered to share things with their followers, like any notable company news, inspiring blog content, videos, or social media posts from company events, and they should use branded hashtags when applicable.
Lab Manager suggests distributing a communications toolkit to educate employees on standard messaging. You may also want to equip your brand ambassadors with brochures or fact sheets before attending an industry event where they'll represent your company. Otherwise, their presence may not be effective in terms of spreading the word about the great things your lab is currently doing.
You might also consider developing some boilerplate content employees can use on their LinkedIn profiles. Employees benefit by improving their professional presence online, while your lab benefits by having more consistent corporate messaging across various profiles. Efforts like this are a win-win.
Training employees to be brand ambassadors isn't just about laying out rules and providing content. It's also about unleashing these employees to create on their own.
Employee-generated content can energize people to contribute to your brand advocacy efforts and deliver better results overall. According to Forbes, brand's engagement rates have doubled where employees generate more than 30 percent of content as opposed to corporate-driven content.
Here are some ways you can get employees to contribute their creative talents to growing brand awareness:
- Ask employees to write blog posts about new research findings surrounding specific contaminants and waterborne pathogens
- Feature employees in company blog posts, such as those covering industry events and conferences
- Hold social media contests with incentives, like gift cards, company awards, or additional paid time off
- Highlight the benefits to their own professional brand development
At the end of the day, some lab employees simply aren't active on social media. But that doesn't mean they can't be brand ambassadors. Everyone has a role to play in living the company's values, whether it's ensuring testing accuracy, promoting lab safety, or providing exceptional customer service.
Beyond social media, training people to be brand ambassadors must be backed by rigorous standards of excellence in your lab, so people feel they work for a company worth raving about. Give your employees something to be proud of and they will be happy to spread the word — online or in person.