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Maximize Your ROI With Campus Brand Ambassadors

by | January 24, 2023

Campus brand ambassadors engage your most valuable target audience. Learn how a brand ambassador program can turn college students into your next customers.
campus brand ambassador

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Have you considered that your customers might be your best marketing tool? Imagine injecting your brand or product into a busy dorm, packed sports stadium, or Greek life event. With campus brand ambassador programs, you can do just that. 

Adding campus brand ambassadors to your marketing strategy can increase your return on investment — or ROI for short. You build that revenue by increasing customer outreach, building a sales community, and creating brand recognition.  

Campus brand ambassadors are sometimes called student ambassadors or campus reps. They promote your business campus-wide through social media, events, merchandise, and sales programs. These marketing efforts reach different types of target audiences that include university professors, staff, and local residents. 

How to Win With Experiential Marketing

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Brand ambassador programs are a type of experiential marketing, kind of like what influencers do online. Experiential marketing involves building real-world connections through one-on-one interactions and word-of-mouth advertising. These are some of the most effective ways to find your target audience. 

Some brand ambassador strategies include:

  • Booths at campus events including career fairs or Greek life
  • Building brand recognition through social media 
  • Distributing free samples or flyers at campus sporting events
  • Inviting students to submit feedback on your products or services

For many students, being a brand ambassador is a highly sought-after role. It provides spending money and helps develop a side hustle with brand recognition. The average hourly compensation for a brand ambassador varies by project. Many students appreciate the flexibility of their brand ambassador roles that easily work around their lives as full-time students.

Ready to learn more about the tremendous benefits of developing a brand ambassador program of your own? Get ready to ditch old-school marketing methods for good.   

How Effective Are Campus Brand Ambassadors?

Campus Brand Ambassadors

Despite their income constraints and digital distractions, college brand ambassadors are a more reliable tactic than you might think. Consider some of the stats:

  • Recruitment: 70-80% of college students work while enrolled in school, meaning there’s no shortage of interested brand representatives. 
  • Trust: More than 90% of consumers say they trust personal recommendations more than direct advertising. This means those influencer connections can boost your business.
  • Engagement: After meeting a brand ambassador, 42% of consumers researched a product, 28% actually bought it, and 26% mentioned it to friends and family. 

Along with growing your sales community, brand ambassadors are a cost-effective method of building ROI. Consider this:

  • Bet on big returns: the average brand ambassador brings your business $6.50 for every $1 spent. On average, brand ambassadors can increase ROI by 11 times more than traditional direct marketing. 
  • Digital value added: Brand ambassadors rely on cross-marketing strategies. This helps turn social media traffic into in-person traffic and vice versa.
  • High exposure: Pop-up shops or street teams reach customers directly. These events also show up on digital media. Folks are already taking photos and videos at campus events or on game day, which can generate free digital advertising. 
  • Social media engagement: Your brand profile rises when paired with a recognizable influencer. If a brand ambassador presents your product on social media, customers are more than five times to buy your product.

Remember, there are 4,000 schools nationwide and more than 19 million enrolled students. The size of your customer base can grow and remain strong for years to come.

Which Brands Use Campus Brand Ambassador Programs?

Brick-and-mortar shops and online businesses alike benefit from brand ambassador programs. Each of the following brands relies on ambassadors in many different ways:

  • Amazon Prime: This massive online retailer uses student ambassadors to promote student discounts on their shipping and streaming services. 
  • Apple: Apple uses brand ambassador programs for product demonstrations and education.
  • Coca-Cola: The beverage behemoth uses campus brand activation to hand out popular soft drinks and expand social media outreach.
  • CP Custom Prints: This retailer provides custom clothing pieces and traditional printing services. Along with marketing, the brand provides students with valuable job experience. 
  • Lululemon: This popular exercise clothing brand specifically targets local yoga instructors to promote wellness and professional collaboration in campus communities. 
  • PINK by Victoria’s Secret: This top clothing brand uses its brand reps to provide key marketing feedback. It also gives their reps retail shopping experience. 
  • Red Bull: Red Bull has one of the top ambassador programs in the country. The company relies on extreme forms of in-person marketing to hand out samples of their products. 
  • Xbox: Millions of college students nationwide play video games on an Xbox system. The brand allows avid gamers access to unique prizes. They also offer access to competitions, making this brand partnership one of the most coveted. 

While these brand names are impressive, campus brand ambassador programs are not just for big businesses. Businesses of all sizes should be harnessing the marketing power of student programs. 

Consider how each of these brands uses its ambassador program. Which of these marketing strategies makes the most sense for your business? In return for their marketing skills, what do you want to offer your brand representatives?

Show Me the Money: The Benefits of a Campus Ambassador Program

Whether you’re a large corporation or a small business, here are some advantages to working with student reps:

  • Build a consumer base with real longevity. Brand ambassadors have access to their campus and local community. They’re also building brand recognition with other college campuses through word of mouth and social media. 
  • Experiential marketing led by customers. When your customer base interacts directly with your business, you see noticeable results. 56% of consumers rely on personal brand recommendations. This makes word-of-mouth one of the most effective ways to boost foot traffic. 
  • Increase your marketing outreach. Campus influencer marketing means access to millions of potential customers. Compare these numbers to billboards or magazine ads that only reach a few hundred people. Unless they have a digital component, most traditional advertising can’t be tracked on Google Analytics or other systems. With influencers, you’ll get past a common marketing pain point and unleash your potential with students and their families nationwide. 
  • Targeted consumers mean consistent sales. Campus brand ambassador programs make targeting the right consumer pools easier to increase sales. Ambassadors offer feedback and produce tangible results that help identify consumer sources and sales opportunities. 

Campus Brand Ambassadors and the Small Business Advantage

Even though businesses of all sizes rely on brand ambassador programs, they offer small businesses a few advantages.

  • Create brand trust. Consumers rely on the opinions of like-minded people. A brand ambassador helps create trust between your business and local consumers. Influencers don’t need to have a global audience to achieve this result. In fact, influencers who are familiar with campus culture can be more effective in local communities. 
  • Give back to the community you serve. Brand ambassador programs offer businesses a chance to support student workers with a paycheck and professional experience. Growing your consumer base also helps put money back into the community. 
  • Long-term savings potential. With high ROI, brand ambassador programs are often more cost-effective long-term than traditional marketing methods. For small businesses with tighter budgets, offering products or incentives can build brand trust and recognition while saving money. 

Tips for Starting a Campus Ambassador Program

All effective brand ambassador programs start with identifying your target audience. If you’re starting out, consider target sampling. This approach creates consumer segments based on interest, their intent to purchase, and determining your market. This can be done by speaking with consumers directly, using digital analytics, and understanding who isn’t your ideal customer. 

For example, coffeeshop regulars may have disposable income and seek local alternatives to chain stores. Ask customers how much they want to pay for a latte. Can you draw in non-coffee drinkers with alternative drink options, food items, environmentally-sound practices, or an inviting environment for study? 

Continually revise your target sampling tactics to stay on top of trends. Brand ambassadors should be members of your target audience. They help your keep up with your target sampling.  

Location, Location, Location

College students walk across campus

Once you know your target audience, consider which form of experiential marketing is the best fit. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Game day and Greek life. College football and Greek life have built-in consumer bases that stay consistent year after year. Street teams can offer free stuff at tailgates or catering at Greek life events. Consider sourcing brand ambassadors from these established communities to use their resources.
  • In-person events. In-person marketing includes passing out flyers, hanging door knockers, and letting consumers know about incentive programs. You can set up pop-up stores at events or near campus buildings where new students meet up. In-person marketing offers an opportunity to create those real-life connections that foster brand trust. 
  • Social media marketing. Along with brand ambassadors, creating a strong social media presence is critical for developing brand recognition. Create strong social media content to use across multiple digital channels including your website. By linking digital content, you’re able to drive traffic to socials, websites, and your upcoming events. 
  • Recruit social followers. Are there customers who frequently engage with or promote your social media on their personal channels? Perhaps they’d be interested in becoming a brand ambassador.
  • Don’t forget to create your own outreach! Use your target audience data to decide which marketing methods will be most effective for your business. Here are some examples:
    • A bakery that sets up a pop-up store during tailgates or welcome weekends
    • A t-shirt printing service that offers bulk discounts during Greek week 
    • A coffee shop advertising an incentive program during finals week

Let CMG Supercharge Your ROI

Ready to receive the incredible benefits of a campus brand ambassador program? College Marketing Group makes it easy. We can help determine a target audience, find the best brand ambassadors, and even manage your marketing team. CMG has the pulse on students, parents, and college campuses. We use our years of experience in marketing to drive your sales and marketing strategies.

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