A chamber ambassadors program creates an army of “chamber champions.” They allow you to be multiple places at once and make the most of your limited resources.
this is true only if you design a worthwhile program and staff it with excited volunteers. Choosing the wrong chamber ambassadors can ensure all your hard work is for naught.
Creating a thriving chamber ambassadors program requires:
- Selecting the right people with the correct combination of skills and talents.
- Laying out clear expectations of the role.
- Providing incentives to meet these expectations.
- Empowering ambassadors to be your chamber’s face and voice.
There’s a lot to do so let’s get started.
Selecting The Right Chamber Ambassadors (for your mission)
If you were packing for a trip, you’d take into consideration where you were going and what you planned on doing when you were there. The same deliberation is required when selecting volunteers to serve as part of your chamber ambassador program. What do you want that group of people to accomplish?
Goals might include:
- Increasing social media shares and posts
- Improving word of mouth marketing about the chamber
- Becoming better known in certain niche segments of your community
- Creating a mentorship program
- Improving retention or membership sales
Ambassadors have varied roles but knowing what you want to do will help you select the right types of people for your chamber ambassadors group. For instance, if you want chamber ambassadors to be involved in social media, you’ll want to recruit volunteers who are active on social media accounts. You want people who enjoy that format of communication. On the other hand, if you want ambassadors to be more recruitment focused, a sales background or know-how might be more appealing.
It is an honor to be asked to be part of this exclusive group (make sure you frame ambassador recruitment materials accordingly). Treat it as if you were hiring a member of your staff. By doing so, you’re communicating that this role isn’t something everyone will be selected for. This creates exclusivity, which should entice people to learn more about your program and want to be involved.
Selecting the ideal person for the job is essential so you should consider interviewing them.
Interview Questions for Potential Chamber Ambassadors
Draft a chamber ambassador’s job description so you know what you’re looking for. Keep in mind the roles/goals you established earlier. Then you can ask potentials questions to find the right fit. Questions such as:
- If someone said something negative about the chamber, how would you handle it? How would you handle it on social media?
- How do you think we can get more traffic at our <town event> booth?
- What’s missing in our membership?
- What do you think you’d be doing as an ambassador?
- What part attracted you to this position?
- How will you increase event attendance?
- How will you increase membership?
- What do you think is your customer service secret weapon? What are you good at?
- How comfortable are you mixing your personal and professional lives? Ambassadors may be required to post and share things on social media that friends and family will see. Are you willing to use a personal profile to help get the chamber message out?
While you may have to turn someone down if they’re not a good fit for ambassador, consider other volunteer roles they would excel at and position it accordingly. For instance, “we’re looking for social media power users in our chamber ambassador program but your extensive skills in sales would make you a great fit to work with our recruitment director. Does that sound good to you? We could really use your help.”
Training and Expectations for the Chamber Ambassador Program
Next, consider the training and leadership necessary to excel in this role. Are the skills required for this position things people already have or will you provide training?
After you decide about training, you’ll need to make sure you communicate expectations. For instance, will your chamber ambassadors be assisting in recruiting? If so, what are the requirements? Will they have to invite a specified amount of new businesses to your events? Do they have to make cold calls or gon on site visits? Will you require them to fill out recruitment paperwork proving they’ve approached a certain number of potential members every month? If so, here are a few tips on tracking chamber ambassador outreach.
What About Scripting for Chamber Ambassadors?
When it comes to ambassador training, you may consider scripting answers or role-playing with your ambassadors. While this may feel more comfortable because you have some control over what they’re saying about you in public, control comes at a cost and that cost is authenticity.
If your ambassadors sound scripted, they won’t be believable. That will detract from potential interest.
Your chamber ambassadors should be your most dedicated, enthusiastic members. They shouldn’t need to be coaxed on what to say because they should be able to use their own experience as a guide. The common question of “What can the Chamber do for me?” could easily be answered by “I’m so glad you asked. Let me tell you what my experience has been…” But that’s the extent of scripting needed.
Empower Your Ambassadors to Tell Their Story
Don’t script. Instead, empower your ambassadors to tell their stories. It’s one of the most effective ways to get people to identify with them. Give them the following prompts to help:
- What made you join the chamber?
- What’s the single best thing you’ve experienced as a business person in this community because of the efforts of the chamber?
- What problem did the chamber help you solve in your own business?
- Share what you’ve learned from chamber membership that you applied to your professional life?
- What aspect/part of the community are you most grateful for?
These questions lead to sharing and a much more congenial, believable conversation between the ambassador and the future member.
Incentivizing Chamber Ambassador Activities
The title of chamber ambassador looks good on a resume and that may be the reason some people desire to join the group. Or they may want to be an ambassador because it gives them the opportunity to network with people at the decision-maker level. If your recruits are joining for “selfish” reasons (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing), it may be important to provide them with additional incentives to keep them performing at their highest level.
But how do you do that?
Decide upon the reward that will best motivate action. Will you give a pat on the back or offer an awards/points system for desired activities? The Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce provides gift certificates to chamber ambassadors who sign new members.
Some chambers use a points program. They give ambassadors a list of desired actions (such as visiting a member), each activity has a point value, and once the activity is completed, the ambassador receives points for it. The points can then be used for things like discounted (or even free) event tickets.
Other motivating ideas include:
Allowing ambassadors to level up to higher tiers that are associated with something valuable. These could be higher membership tiers or higher tiers within your ambassador program. Look at how airlines or hotels use them in their loyalty programs. Participants level up to silver tier and receive these perks. Then there’s platinum and a new set of awards.
Award ambassadors with physical representations of their efforts that they can only get through points. This could be through special badges, t-shirts, pins, etc. The more unique the item, the more desired it will become, particularly if there’s only one way to earn them. Think about how many sports teams use stickers on helmets to denote top plays. They serve as a source of pride for the athlete. You can create the same for your ambassadors.
Tips for Using Game Theory in Chamber Ambassador Incentives
The opportunities for using gamification with your chamber ambassador program are vast. They needn’t be online, although it’s pretty cool when they are. Just keep in mind that in order to motivate someone to perform a desired action, you need:
- Recognition to be public and visual (thanking them in person is not the same thing). Everyone needs to see it.
- Rewards must be consistent and recipients must understand how they achieve them.
- You must have opportunities to level up and advance that are easy enough to obtain in the beginning so ambassadors don’t get discouraged, and then become progressively harder.
One of the Most Important Things You Can Do for the Success of Your Program: Empowering Ambassadors
Finally, you won’t be with your ambassadors as they go about spreading the benefits of the chamber. For your chamber ambassador program to be effective, they need to use their own words. But they also need to understand the benefits and bonuses of chamber membership. Give them parameters from which to work. Let them know how many “free” event tickets they can give out. Make sure they understand what can be promised to potential members and what is not within your area of expertise.
Chamber ambassadors are an extension of the chamber, not their own commanding army. Empower them to work on your behalf, promoting your mission, and providing another face of business. After all, members don’t join just for benefits. They join groups to be a part of something larger than themselves. Chamber ambassadors must be empowered to help them see it.
A must read for all Chamber Professionals...