I have posted a couple of posts in the past about ambassador programs and this has started to become a hot topic among the outdoor community. I had a nice chat with a good friend of mine the other day and the questions was brought up as to what the difference was between Sponsorships, Sponsored Athletes, Gear Reviews, and ambassador programs. I wanted to share what I know each to be and the differences and similarities. Not everyone has the same ideas on what they are or should be and I would love to hear what you think!
A gear review is for all intensive purposes a way for the manufacturer or company to gain advertising and brand recognition by providing a product or service to bloggers in trade for a blog post or video review of the product. This is a clever way to introduce new or old products to a very specific and focused audience. Unlike a press release blasted out by a company a gear review is written by someone who is knowledgeable in the products target market and is tested by the blogger in real life scenarios to provide quality feedback to the companies. Most of the time gear reviews are initiated by a Marketing firm or a marketing manager at the company. There are also two types of outcomes that the companies are looking for. The first being a quick push the product out there relationship. The company provides the product and requires nothing other than a blog post or video created and posted on your blog and social networks. Once the blog post is shared no more communication is had. The second is where the company works with these bloggers who provide feedback to the company who uses that feedback to better their products. This type of company will usually work with the blogger for a period of time creating a mutually beneficial relationship. Bloggers are kept in the loop about all the latest and great gear and in return the company gets promotion from the bloggers.
Ambassador programs are set up by a brand by selecting a group of people to represent the brand by promoting and sharing the companies products by doing reviews and social promotions. This grass roots program not only creates buzz about the brand it creates fans of that brand. Ambassador programs are set up to provide both the company and the participant with mutual benefits. Both parties will create content for each other and then share that content across the networks. Most ambassador programs provide the latest and greatest gear to its members before the general public get to see the gear. This allows the brands to get true and honest feedback from people who use the gear in the field and were selected specifically for the activities they participate in. Many of the programs try to get a wide range of folks to be able to provide different types of feedback while using the products. Each program is different and run specifically for each brand and there is no one program fits all method. There are many programs running these days and more are coming on line daily. Some of the more well known programs are the Columbia Sportswear’s #Omniten, Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassadors and Teton Sports Mountain Adventurers.
Just as the name implies being a sponsored athlete is just that. Professional athletes in their chosen field are provided with gear and money in return they provide advertising and marketing for the companies. Unlike Ambassador programs the Sponsored Athlete programs are focused on the pros who are entering into competitions of every level to challenge themselves but also to show off their awesome talents and skills. Each athlete works with the brands directly to provide feedback and information to help the brand provide better gear that works in that specific environment and skill set. Each sponsor and athlete have a special relationship that is tailored and honed over the course of the sponsorship to help both parties.
Sponsorships can come in several different types. The two most common In-Kind gifts or monetary funds. In-Kind Gifts are typically gear or provisions for an expedition, adventure, or trip. Many of the sponsors will be looking for some type of return on investment. This return many times comes as advertising on a vehicle, blog, word of mouth, or via social media. Monetary funds sponsorships is exactly what it sounds like. The company pays you money and in return you advertise for them in some way like blogging, or posting things about them on social media, or placing a sticker on your vehicle. Each situation is unique to the sponsor and the person or group being sponsored.
Have you had any experience with any of these types of programs? We would love to hear your comments and thoughts.
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