Something we noticed while undertaking this research is the interchangeable way keywords are often used. It can all get a bit confusing. Before digging into the different types of programs, let’s define our terms.
Many brands have unique names for their programs. However, there are four terms that come up frequently when referring to the type of person the various programs target.
Let’s examine those:
- An advocate is someone who proactively defends, promotes and participates in the public conversation for an organization, brand or product in a positive way. They usually do this with no interference from the brand.
- An ambassador is a representative or promoter connected in some way to an organization, brand or product, usually with the goal of increasing brand awareness or sales.
Ambassador programs like Lululemon Ambassadors and Scoop Company Captains are about spreading brand recognition and often focus on bringing in referrals or leads. They tend to incentivise members to encourage a specific behavior.
Lululemon selects sportspeople with high public profiles as ambassadors and give them free clothing to wear at events which they host, or while working out. The primary objective is brand recognition.
Scoop financially incentivise drivers to act as internal spokespeople for the car-pooling service within their workplace or location.
Ambassador programs like the examples above can’t be classified as (and for legal reasons shouldn’t be referred to as) ‘volunteer’ programs because there are financial incentives.