Not sure what part of the world you live in but here in the northeast U.S. fall has arrived and with the chill in the air comes the prerequisite chill in the form of trepidation and apprehension for retail marketers as the holiday shopping season commences. Collectively they anxiously await the results which has become an annual rite of the season.

Predictions are coming fast and furious of course as to whether retailers will have a happy holiday season. One article from the Wall St. Journal had this ominous-opening line: “An early forecast predicts the holiday-shopping season will be the worst since 2009, mirroring the concerns of some retailers who are stepping up discounts and pushing earlier for what they fear will be hard-fought sales.”

Well based upon the findings in Nielsen’s latest “Trust in Advertising” report it would appear one way retailers can at the very least aid in their quest for visions of endless sales dancing in their heads is by relating to and empowering their most loyal of fans, AKA their brand ambassadors.

Do you see a theme across both of the above charts?

Be it trust or influence, consumers rely and most importantly take action based on the recommendations they receive from people they know.

Last week I wrote a piece It’s Not Just Big Data, It’s The Right Big Data That Matters Most in which I touched on the need to identify the right people, the key influencers – those who carry the most clout (no pun intended) with their friends and family. I referenced one company, Pursway, who is able to identify these very influential folks via data.

According to Pursway’s research, the top 10 percent of influencers can drive up to 50 percent of a brand’s revenue. Let that one sink for a few minutes.

Then you will realize the importance of getting comfy and cozy with your brand ambassadors this holiday season – figuratively speaking that is. And you will realize the sheer power these folks have over the rest of your database as well as prospects.

It’s Never Too Late

Now if you’re thinking, Mr. and Mrs. Retail Marketer, that it’s too late to see any benefit this holiday season from engaging with your brand ambassadors if you have not already – think again.

According to Consumer Reports, with three weeks to go until Christmas in 2012, 66 million American shoppers had not even started shopping yet. Think about that.

They had not even started yet which means if last year is any indicator and we know what they say about history and those who forget it, you have time to reach out to your brand ambassadors and empower them to get them wielding their influence.

Offer your brand ambassadors specials, exclusive deals – something to get them speaking about and sharing news and information on your brand with their friends and family.

It is also not too late to turn your most ardent fans into brand ambassadors – if you have not done so already.

Back in 2011, Todd Wasserman wrote a great piece for Mashable How To Turn Fans Into Brand Ambassadors in which he cites real-life examples of brands doing just that including Walmart and Kraft.

Even though the article is two years old it is still very relevant and worth the read.

So don’t just sit there Mr. and Mrs. Retail Marketer go forth and engage, embrace and yes, get comfy and cozy with your brand ambassadors this holiday season, in a matter of speaking.

Sources: MarketingCharts.comConsumer ReportsWall St. Journal, Google Images