Whether it was at a conference, or in a blogger group you belong to, you’ve heard other bloggers talk about attending conferences as a Brand Ambassador. The brand pays for their ticket, and oftentimes picks up some or all of their travel expenses for the conference… a few bloggers are even able to get paid on top of an all-expense paid trip to a conference.
You’re probably thinking, “How do they do it? How do they get brands to pay for them to attend a conference?” Or, better yet, “How can I attend conferences as a Brand Ambassador?”
The simple answer is: Ask. Let’s cover the why, what, and how…
What Is a Brand Ambassador?
The term “brand ambassador” is used to describe a variety of relationships between a person and a brand:
- Companies may have employees called Brand Ambassadors in their marketing departments whose job it is to talk about the brand to consumers in person, online, etc.
- Sometimes companies will call their loyal customers “brand ambassadors” and give them special access, deals, and information to help keep them loyal, and talking about how much they love the brands.
- In the blogging world, brand ambassadors are typically paid influencers who may write blog posts, participate in social media campaigns alongside a brand, or represent the brand at local events and conferences.
We’re going to focus on that last description. At a conference, a blogger or a social media influencer can offer exposure to a brand by attending on their behalf. The blogger attends the conference, talks to other attendees about the brand, posts on social media about the brand in association with the event, and typically does a blog post or series of posts about attending the conference on behalf of the brand.
How to Pitch a Brand Ambassadorship to a Brand
Now, if you’re thinking, “Hey – I could do that!” you’re right. You could. Being a brand ambassador isn’t easy – you have work to do – but if you’re a blogger and/or social media influencer – the tasks that come along with being a brand ambassador are right in your wheelhouse.
Let’s dive into how you go about getting one of these gigs:
- Identify a brand or solution provider related to the conference you want to attend
- Determine what value you can provide to them AT the conference
- Pitch them on the idea of attending as their “Brand Ambassador”
Identify a Brand that’s a Good Fit for the Conference and for You
Your first step is to identify the brand or brands that you want to approach. First, the brand should be a good fit for the conference. You don’t want to pitch a deep sea fishing gear to sponsor your trip to Type-A. Even though they may have budget and we’ll have some people who fish in attendance, there won’t be a substantial number of their potential influencers at our show.
- Think like the brand – Look at previous brands that have sponsored, and get a feel for who the attendees are. Do you see other potential influencers for the brand, or good customers?
- Look to your current relationships – If you want to go to a show, and you’re already working with a brand – there’s pretty good chance the markets are aligned. Reach out to the brands you’re already working with to see if any of them would like to sponsor your trip.
- Don’t compromise your values or pretend to be something you’re not – you’re going to be at the show wearing the name of the brand on your name tag (probably), and sharing your experience on your site and social media channels. You’ll need to pick a brand that matches your values so that you’re comfortable saying, “I’m with insert-brand-name-here.” You’ll also need to be honest so that you’re not worried about hiding who you are or your activities at the conference. For example, I wouldn’t ask a vegan brand to sponsor me because, while I respect the choice and believe in the health benefits, I actually eat meat several times a day and wouldn’t want to skip the bacon in the morning, or hide in a corner to eat it.
NOTE: If you identify more than one brand, I’d suggest approaching them one at a time, in order of preference so that you’re not stuck going back to a brand to say “never mind”. You may want to work with them in the future and this move could damage the relationship.
Determine the Value You Bring to the Brand as an Ambassador
When you approach the brand, lead with what you’ll be offering them. Obviously, you want the chance to go to the conference – but make the pitch about them. What are they going to get by sending you?
- Visibility at the Conference – Brands hate to miss out on opportunities just as much as you do. When they see that a number of their customers or influencers were at an event that they weren’t at – they get antsy. But, they don’t always have the time or budget to attend every conference. Having a brand ambassador attend the show ensures their involvement and further promotes their brand’s constant engagement with the community.
- Credibility – While the costs may be similar to sending one of their own employees to a conference, hiring a brand ambassador to attend can add credibility to the the brand. Attendees talk to other attendees and tend to trust the information their peers relay about the brand more than they do when they hear it from the brand directly.
- Exposure to Your Readers and Followers – Just like with any other campaign you participate in, brands want to hire brand ambassadors who will help them expand their reach. Along with talking about the brand to your fellow attendees, you’ll be sharing your brand-sponsored trip with all of your readers and followers.
- Your loyalty – Be tactful, but feel free to talk to the brand about how their sponsorship of your attendance will affect your long-term relationship with them. Let’s be honest: you’ll be much more apt to work with them again and again if they pay for you to go to a conference that you’d like to attend.
What to Include in Your Brand Ambassador Proposal
There are a number of costs associated with your travel that you may want to include in the proposal:
- Conference Registration Fees – Choose the ticket that fits your true intentions. Don’t automatically choose the highest level if you’re not going to take advantage of all of the perks/features.
- Hotel – Include the hotel stay in your quote. Remember that the posted rates typically don’t include tax. Also, be on the lookout for hotels that charge a “resort fee” or other “hospitality” fees.
- Airfare/Travel – It’s going to cost you money to get to the conference, even if it’s in your local area. Be ready with an idea of what airfare prices, fuel, and even parking fees will cost you. Some brands will insist on making airfare arrangements for you – but for the most part, determine the range, and propose on the higher end.
- Per Diem – This is the “per day” amount that it’ll cost to feed you while you’re traveling. At home, it probably only costs you a few dollars a day from your overall grocery budget to stay full and hydrated – but on the road, every bottle of water will set you back $4. I tend to go with about $100 per day. That’s a $15 breakfast, $20 lunch, and $30 dinner with room for tips, and a few coffees and bottles of water. You can cut that in half for conferences that offer breakfast and lunch (and take the opportunity to network during those times!). Don’t forget travel days – even if it is a portion of a day, it’s going to cost you to eat on the run.
- Your Fee – You’ll be providing social media exposure, a blog post, etc. Use your standard media kit to determine your fee for the promotional work you’ll be doing for the brand.
Your pitching style will determine how you put this all together and propose it to the brand, but I’d suggest that you stick to a lump sum instead of showing each of the above items one-by-one. Brands tend to look at line item costs and try to decide what they can remove to lower the price.
Along with the costs of attending the conference, take into consideration the benefits you’ll receive. If you can get a brand to pay for half of your trip, just your ticket, or for some social shares while you’re there – will that be worth your while? A brand ambassador gig doesn’t have to be 100% of your trip – it could cover just the amount you need to get the trip into your budget so that you can use the conference to learn and network to grow your business.
How to Get Help from the Conference Organizers
Speaking as a conference organizer – I’ll tell you firsthand: conference organizers LOVE to help brand ambassadors get to our shows. When you come, you’re there as an attendee to take part in sessions and networking – and you connect the show to the brand. Your social media shares and blog posts help the brand, and the conference. Plus, you can report back to the brand to tell them how great the event was and why they should consider investing more by sending you again next year.
Reach out to the organizers of the conference you want to attend, and ask them to help you land a Brand Ambassador gig. Here’s what you can ask for:
- A template proposal – Ask the conference organizers to help you put together a proposal to send to the brand you want to target. They will have a lot of stats and information that aren’t on the public site that they can share with you.
- Potential brands – Quite often, conference organizers will hear from potential sponsors that can’t make it to the show – but may have budget to send someone. So, ask the organizers if there are brands that they think you should approach and they may even connect you with their contacts.
- Special perks for the brand – Ask the organizers if they can offer some special perks to the brand that you’re representing to “sweeten the deal”. They may be able to list the brand as an attendee on their site, offer a small placement like an item in the attendee bag, or even a place for you to meet with attendees to chat about the brand.
Attend the Annual Type-A Parent & Lifestyle Blogging Conference as a Brand Ambassador
Like I said, we love Brand Ambassadors. We have a package, complete with a template proposal that you can use to pitch a brand on attending our 2018 Type-A Annual conference. It includes:
- Your registration fee for a VIP ticket
- Breakfast and lunch on all three days
- Listing for the brand on a page that announces the brands who will attend the show
- A few hours of Expo Table time for you to meet with attendees on behalf of the brand and pass out their materials
If you’d like access to the proposal, and some brands that might be interested in having an ambassador attend the show – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.