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Brand Ambassadors

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If a company is calling their sales rep a Brand Ambassador, the company wants all potential customers to know they care deeply about their brand.  Companies that focus on their brand tend to focus intensely on the customer experience (well, most do, but not all, and that's an Apple discussion for another time).  The company may not walk the talk (of course), but a company that has Brand Ambassadors tends to want to build fiercely loyal customers.  The goal is to align everything with the brand experience, and *the right kind of sale* is a key way to strengthen the brand.

Companies that have Sales Reps can, of course, have a similar customer-centric philosophy.  However, a Sales Rep brings to mind ideas of quotas, one-time transactions, and all manner of sloppy handshake-and-forget experiences.  Especially with flat-rate commissions and other such incentive structures, any sale will do.

I can't help but flinch when I hear either term.

(gag me)

(with a)


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Alcohol Brand Ambassadors don't sell anything. In fact, because they work for the liquor companies, they typically can't sell anything.

That explains why every one I've met has been in a bar, generally female (*), on the prettier side of normal, and representing one product. Looking back, there was *no* reason I should have met any of these people; yet, somehow, I did, usually through a bartender introduction to the person who happened to be sitting right next to me. I figured it was "this," but also thought they were responsible for sales to the bar. That's pretty funny - infiltration at the lowest possible level!

(*) However, on Theo Rutherford's (anyone remember Theo?) last night at Rogue 24, he told me he was becoming "brand rep" (or something like that) for Jim Beam, and was going to be doing a *lot* of traveling. He was extremely excited about it. Jake Parrott, are you a Brand Ambassador?

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A prominent brand ambassador (whose name and affiliations will be omitted for privacy) put it to me this way: "my job is to make sure <name of brand> is on the back bar at <names of prominent bars>, so that the sales reps can use that information for sales." Brand ambassadors are instructed by their bosses almost always to work solely with the on-trade. Much of their customer-facing work is at night, and includes a great deal of "marketing spend," i.e., buying their own brands for themselves and others to create buzz and (hopefully) make the bar feel more adept at serving the brand.

My job (most of the time) is to ride in the passenger seat of a distributor rep's car during the day, going to retailers, restaurants, and bars, presenting subsets of our widely-varying book of more than 50 products (wines, aromatized wines, bitter things, cordials, and spirits) to widely-varying customers (from mom-and-pop wine shops to large restaurant groups), all the while helping the distributor rep get better at determining which products from our portfolio are best for each different kind of customer. I also do in-store tastings, where I present products in context, often with paired food or mixers. Almost all of my work is done during the day, and I am not required (nor am I even encouraged) to order my own products when I do go out in the evening. Which is good, because it would cut down on my ability to order the fantastic mezcals under the Mezcal Vago label.

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