Tara Falk shares her insight on common mistakes less seasoned brand ambassadors often make] as well as tips to succeed at any promotion or face-to-face marketing event
Over the course of my two years as a professional promotional model and brand ambassador, I’ve tweaked the overview on my own resume a few times and heard plenty of varying descriptions of what makes a top tier brand ambassador.
It is extremely important to understand your role at an activation: the details of your tasks, what deliverables are expected and the ultimate goal of the promotion. Lately, I’ve come to notice knowing what NOT to do in consumer-facing roles is of equal importance.
Making people feel comfortable and at ease is mostly intuition. The tricks come with trial and error. I’ve compiled a few fool-proof tips; a how-to list that could help you completely ruin (or avoid ruining) any engagement, shooting to death (or keeping alive) all possibilities that the potential consumer will reflect positively upon their awkward (or pleasant) time with you.
This is my personal pet peeve, and since I’ve never heard it stressed by anyone else it’s something I always try to call attention to when in management and team leadership roles, because I think it’s very important to be aware of. When more than one ambassador verbally engages someone that is initially nearing or entering the space, it can be completely overpowering, coming off as pushy or even scary. Some people will be set off by that and avoid the footprint altogether, some will feel as though they’re being solicited, and they won’t be as likely to enter or listen to what you have to offer. Furthermore, when people attempt to talk over each other, less information is processed and instead of thinking about the information being presented they’ll probably be pre-occupied with how to end the exchange. Try to stay aware of your coworkers, maybe focusing on separate directions of foot traffic, or approaching every other person. One-on-one or one ambassador approaching a group is a lot less intimidating, easy to understand, and inviting. It seems more personal and organic than an entire group of matching marketing drones yelling talking points from all stations of the footprint. Keep mental track of who has been spoken to and who has not – nobody likes to be hounded. Try to look for cues and watch people’s “gears turn.” Watch for breaks in eye contact that indicate who is distracted, uncomfortable, or losing interest and adjust to them accordingly.
It’s the promo version of a phenomenon involving an angry look on your resting face. Even when you are unaware, people are seeing you and assessing your brand and the vibes of your activation from a distance. When they happen to catch a glance of you making the hand gun and pulling the trigger towards another ambassador or rolling your eyes, they know you don’t really want to talk to them, and they won’t really want to talk to you. If you can’t conjure a smile from thin convention center air, turn in your khakis and pick up the Classified section.
Confidence is key, I’m not the first to say it and I won’t be the last. If you act as if you shouldn’t be talking to someone, they’ll feel like they shouldn’t be talking to you.
Make people comfortable. You’re only a stranger and out of their “bubble” until you relate to them through humor, their children, an interest, a hope, dream, or goal. Try sharing something about you or giving a compliment. Deviating from the talking points is not forbidden. Once you grab their attention you can ease into your offer or the deal of the day.
Remember, being sorry should only occur if you’ve done something WRONG. Try not to feel that way if you don’t need to. Learn to be mindful of social cues and practice reacting to them in everyday conversation. It will be easier to end an exchange before anyone needs to feel sorry.
Confusing people can also count them out. Don’t assume they know exactly what you’re talking about – ask questions to gauge their background knowledge and interest in the topic. Ask questions to break the barrier or “invisible wall,” that’s often hard to break through. Don’t shortcut your talking points, but switch it up. Use different language, start with a different angle and circulate a handful of approaches between different groups of people, changing the frequency if some work better than others. It may not seem this way when you’re hearing no and getting passed by, but most people are looking for excuses to connect, especially when they’re attending an event they paid for or that they’ve got true interest in. It usually only takes a little inquisition to open people’s books, and a small amount of information can help you tailor your approach for a better interaction.
First impressions can steer the entire conversation and stuttering my first few words usually does me in. You’re already breaking into someone’s bubble, they are possibly
already out of their comfort zone talking to a stranger and people adjust to each other automatically. A consumer will feel awkward if they perceive that you are feeling awkward. They will either try to get out of there to relieve you of the embarrassment, or they’ll want to get out of there to keep their time from being wasted by someone who doesn’t have their speech together. Either way, they’ll want to get out of there, and you more than likely will have to scrap it and recoup for the next engagement.
Though it can be tempting to stretch the limits when you don’t know the answer or to peak someone’s interest, but it’s best to assume that it WILL come back to bite you when they actually DO win the contest and they remember your name…. and food and beverages were NOT included. Even worse, they could know you’re wrong, they could correct you loudly in front of your team and other consumers… or worst case scenario, they’ll be, gasp, the CLIENT. It’s not worth it.
Come Off Short
I understand you’re incredibly cool, and probably quite beautiful. You might be the model type through and through, but as a brand ambassador or event model you are most likely being paid to make people’s days and send them away feeling good more so than you’re being paid to stand and look pretty. It’s in very poor taste to be selective, do the bare minimum to connect with people, and let opportunities for great engagement pass. These guys might be totally lame, and the event might not be your scene, but good event staff will always play along, is not above anyone, and will take real care to draw attention and provide positive experience’s for guests to connect with your brand.
Check your Cell Phone
Your social media, like-counts, and photo uploads can wait. Leave it with your bag. You may think the consumer you’re with is super cool and hip and impressed with you so they’ll understand the importance of responding to the text you just got, but cell phones and “our” generation have a very negative stigma. Whipping it out at work is tacky should be avoided – it’s an act for moments of privacy. Wait until your break or scurry to the bathroom. Life is happening around you, and you should be part of it! Though prompt communication is part of getting booked, this is true both on and off the clock.