Student ambassadors can play a valuable role for brands as they offer a way to break through the advertising clutter and make a personal connection that has granular relevance.

Adam Grant, CEO of Campus Commandos – a Detroit-based marketing shop focused on student marketing – elaborated on this topic at the Youth Marketing Summit New York 2019, an event held by Voxburner.

“A student on campus represents your brand and carries out the marketing plan, both online and offline, toward their peers,” he explained.

And having run such campaigns for clients as diverse as tech manufacturers like HP and apparel manufacturers like Men’s Wearhouse, he’s well-positioned to advise on those elements that inform the best student-led efforts. (For more details, read WARC’s report: Eight tips for running student-ambassador programs.)

Unsurprisingly, financial inducements top the list. “Cash is king. So if you can afford to pay your student ambassadors, you should do so,” Grant said.

Alternative forms of compensation also may be available, though, especially where brands “make a product that college students get excited about”, Grant said. One example, he suggested, is IT manufacturer Dell, which kits out its student ambassadors – known as “campassadors” – with laptops and other branded goods.

Firms in lower-interest sectors, meanwhile, might consider non-financial rewards, which could include anything from tech training to advice on life skills like dealing with personal finance.

Grant also stressed the need for brands to take a hands-on approach rather than simply outsource their ambassador program. “As soon as that student realizes that 99.9% of the communication is with your partner – with your vendor, with your agency – they quickly lose motivation,” he reported.

“So, never remove yourself completely from the program. Don’t just sit on weekly calls hearing a report of how it’s going. Get involved,” he recommended.

Promoting campus ambassadors in proactive ways is typically welcomed, too. Kaplan Test Prep and the PINK line of college-focused apparel from Victoria’s Secret, for example, used their respective websites to draw attention to individual student representatives.

“It shows the importance of the student ambassador program to your company, and further showcases that you’re invested and involved in your student ambassadors’ success,” said Grant.

Sourced from WARC