CEO, April5

Brand champions can be powerful resources for your business and your events.

Champions come in all shapes and sizes and can be really powerful resources for any sized business. It can be anyone from a celebrity ambassador to passionate early adopters who, particularly thanks to social media, can create buzz for your events and experiences.
Champions can be big drawcards for your events, however, it pays to get the partnership right. If you make the decision to engage the services of a formal ambassador for your business or brand, while it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of the process, taking the time to ensure you are investing in the right ambassador is vital. After all, these are the people who will represent your brand and in some cases become the voice and set the tone.
I recently ran a couple of great client events with a celebrity DJ as the special guest. She was a perfect drawcard for our young audience, and with the right venue and invite strategy, the events were an overwhelming success. The crowd came to see our DJ, but also had a great series of experiences at the event, which ensured the client’s objective of “more than food and booze” were met.
We were able to use our DJ’s image in the event collateral and negotiated that she would be available to us for photos with guests after the performance. Photos were done in front of a branded photo wall and all of a sudden, social media was buzzing with the photos and our brand. It was a great association.
As a business owner myself, I realise that you can’t always afford to spend money on these brand champions but that doesn’t mean that you need to settle either. If the fit isn’t right then the messages get confused and your audience can get a little lost. In the days of tight budgets, it can be hard to find the fit or the money, but here are a couple of things to consider:
1. When negotiating the deal to use a ‘champion’, make sure you read all the fine print. It is important to know and understand what access you have to them and what they are prepared to do as part of the agreement. Turning up and performing is one thing, interacting with the crowd is another. Make sure you are clear on your expectations.
2. Consider the long-term outlook during the negotiations. Often the association is only for a specified period of time, after which you are not able to use images and other IP. Beware what you have in the public domain after the contact is over, you may be in breach.
3. Brand champions don’t have to be celebrities or people in the public spotlight. Think about your social media and those on your sites that champion your brand. You will find that these are the supporters who will often engage with other consumers and give positive feedback, or in some instances answer the critics for you. Engage in dialogue with them, ask them what they think of your offering and get their opinions and advice.
4. Think about loan programs/freebies/specials and offers for supporters. Make them the champions of your brand. Word of mouth is really powerful.
5. Find some early adopters who might like to test or try your product/service and then invite them to comment either privately or publicly.
6. Very importantly, think about your staff. What are they saying externally about you and your company? There are all sorts of ways to get your staff motivated to champion your brand or business and in my experience these are definitely worthwhile activities.
Finding the time and the resources to get involved in some sort of ambassador program is often hard and this is especially so for small to medium businesses. Having said that though, making the time to do a few simple things to help encourage positive word of mouth and ‘chat’ about your business or brand can not only be invaluable, it can be vital.
Be careful not to overlook your own staff as powerful ambassadors for your company as well though. Happy staff usually equate to excellent ambassadors whereas unhappy staff can do real damage to your business’ brand, even without actively meaning to.
While a well-chosen celebrity can work wonders, brand champions don’t have to be high profile people. In many cases the money required to secure expensive contracts could have been better allocated to more considered strategies using other forms of champions to champion your brands and events.

Alicia Beachley is the CEO of April5. She can be contacted via email on