Kudos to Sprint for starting the Sprint Ambassadors Program!
What is the Ambassador Program?
The Sprint Ambassador Program is an exclusive opportunity to try Sprint’s latest products and services made possible by the Sprint Power VisionSM Network.
Who qualifies for the Ambassador Program?
Individuals in select cities across the US who have access to the Sprint Power VisionSM Network. The network is being rolled out in phases and will not be available at launch in every US market. Participation is also subject to availability of phones.
Each ambassador will receive a free Samsung A920 phone equipped with 6 months free voice and data service. Using the data service, accessed through the Sprint Power VisionSM Network, will allow you to download full length songs, games, ring tones and other premium content free for 6 months.
What’s the catch?
No catches. No gimmicks. If you’re selected for the program, you get a free Power Vision phone and 6 months of free Sprint PCS service with no strings attached. At the end of 6 months, you may continue the service but the service will no longer be free. We do appreciate and look forward to receiving your feedback on our latest products and services.
This is a great approach – much better and much more effective than the stealthy, hidden approach that Nvidia recently tried to sneak in. Opening up a process like this shows off how much interest your company has in working with and forming a real relationship with your consumers. When Sprint launched this program, they immediately had a perception boost on their competitors simply because they’re sending a message that they like their consumers and want to work together on something fun.
But like any project, the devil is in the details. As this blogger shows, it’s crucial to put some thinking behind the development of these projects. Here’s a few tips:
- Fully vet the invitees – make sure that you read up on the invitees, do a google search or read through their blog. Make sure that they’re in the right geographic area. Check the out before firing off an email. Working together with a select group is successful only when it’s the right group.
- Take the time to write a (mostly) personal email. Form letters may save you some time, but they’re obvious and insulting to the receipient. If the size of the distribution list requires a form letter, then don’t try to hide the form letter requirement. You can say something like "I’m sorry for the form letter, but with a group this large, I would have taken me a year to write personal emails"… or whatever.
- Sign the mail with YOUR name. That’s right, you’re inviting someone to something cool, make sure they know it’s not just another spam mail. A good way to do that is to actually sign your name or the name of a real group. "The Team" isn’t honest.
- In your support information on the web, make sure you provide clear details on how people can sign up, or what the terms of invitation are. Programs like this inherently have an sense of exclusion for those not selected. Being clear about how you invite people into the program helps eliminate ill-will, which can undermine even the greatest of programs
- Highlight the membership – building off the last point, make sure that the audience at large is at least somewhat aware of who the elite group is and what they’re doing. Again, this will help ensure there’s no resentment.
- When the application/invitation process is over, make sure it’s clear. On the Sprint Ambassador site, I had to email in to find out how to sign up since there was zero information about this.
As you can see, what may appear on the surface to be a simple process ("Let’s just email out some invitations and drop some product in the hands of whoever replies") can get quite tricky quite fast. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe that this type of approach is absolutely the best kind of marketing. It just needs to be approached in the right way to ensure that it doesn’t backfire.