November '19

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106 • RV PRO • November 2019 rv-pro.com B U S I N E S S are paid in cash, but many of them simply get free products, according to Miller. Dragonfly pays none of its ambassadors, although, like the Bradys, they do qualify for product discounts, Nichols says. Brand ambassadors also can earn money through so-called affiliate mar- keting links on their websites and social media sites. Through this sort of setup, a brand financially rewards an affiliate for each visitor or customer it picks up from an affiliate's sites. Additionally, brand ambassadors realize the intangible value in cross-pro- motional efforts that boost their own brands while also benefiting their "clients." "If it's not mutually beneficial, they're not going to keep supporting you," Nichols says of brand ambassa- dors. "They're going to make one video and they're going to take off with your tow hitch and they're going to live their life. That's not a long-term relationship. That's not how you get the dividends of a relationship over time." Brand Ambassadors a Cost- Effective Marketing Tool However they're compensated, brand ambassadors eat up much less of a mar- keting budget than, say, a TV ad cam- paign or Google ad campaign would. A typical small or midsize business spends $9,000 to $10,000 on pay-per- click ads on Google. Airtime for one 30-second national TV spot goes for about $115,000, which doesn't include production costs and other expenses. While Dometic and Dragonfly didn't reveal how much money they allocate for brand ambassadorships, company reps say they believe such marketing is highly cost-effective. While brand ambassadors are some- thing of an emerging trend in the RV industry, they are widely used in the larger business arena. Marketing executive Travis Siflinger makes use of brand ambassadors at Flux- Credit, a startup that helps consumers avoid bankruptcy and rebuild their credit. He said brand ambassadorships are considerably less complicated and less expensive, as well as less "vanilla" than more traditional marketing methods. FluxCredit has signed up brand ambassadors like Trenton Scott, an offen- sive tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers, and British professional golfer Michele Forgione for its social-media-fueled #FluxLife campaign. "It's a way of selling without selling," Siflinger says, adding that FluxCredit steers away from showing "meaningless" faces and places in its marketing cam- paigns in order to spark "cooler conver- sations or cultural connectivity" between consumers and its brand ambassadors. "To me, in today's market, image is everything. … It's about disrup- tion, innovation and standing apart," Siflinger says. Distinguishing Brand Ambassadors So, how do companies like Dometic and Dragonfly determine whether their brand ambassadorships truly stand apart? Miller says measuring the ROI of brand ambassadorships extends well beyond whether a Facebook post tallies 500,000 likes. Dometic concentrates much more on the type and quality of engagement with consumers. For something like a Facebook post, "we want to make sure that it's really reaching the core audience," he says. "Frankly, if it reaches just 1,000 people but they are hard-core RVers and are in the market for a Dometic-type product, then it's a huge win for us. At the end of the day, if it's not resonating with the right people – (those) being our customers – then it's kind of a waste." In a similar vein, Nichols says Drag- onfly tracks web traffic tied to Battle Born referrals from brand ambassadors' sites, but data alone doesn't drive deci- sions about brand ambassadorships. He explains, "Real organic marketing is more about patience than punchiness." Watch Videos of RV Brand Ambassadors in Action: http://rvpro.ly/jillian-rebekah https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=hvhFohQiOY0 Dometic global brand ambassadors Dan and Marlene Lin produce blogs, vlogs (video blogs) and Instagram posts on their website Mali Mish. The couple and their three children are full-time RVers, currently traveling through Europe in a Sprinter van. Under an arrangement with Dometic, some of the content that the Lins post can be used on the company's website or in Dometic catalogs.

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