Brand ambassadors explore new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no brand has gone before.

I’m not talking about outer space; I’m talking about how they walk the same streets, hang out at the same malls, attend the same concerts, and play on the same playgrounds as your target customers.

At marketing events, brand ambassadors bring businesses to life in a manner that television commercials, radio spots, and flashing banner ads simply can’t replicate. More than 90 percent of consumers believe live engagement provides a deeper connection to brands than traditional TV ads do.

And afterward, any resistance will be futile. A similar percentage of consumers say they’re more likely to purchase from a particular brand following its experiential campaign.

It’s clear that brand ambassadors hold a lot of power — but only if they’re delivering a consistent message across every market. And because these individuals are often spread out across the galaxy, it can be especially difficult to get everyone on the same page.

Beaming a Consistent Message

When brand ambassadors send mixed signals to consumers — especially at the same event — the company’s mission is being misrepresented and the whole campaign can shift from “all systems go” to “red alert.”

Consistent messaging comes down to your hiring and training processes. Not all brand ambassadors are right for all brands. If you let just anyone be the face of your company, your reputation will surely pay for it.

Think of it like recruiting the crew of your ship. To promote a specific brand image, you must hand-select your No. 1, the engineers who deeply understand the mission, and the science officers who embody the same values as you.

Hire well and prosper using these three guidelines:

Seek loyal customers. Ideal brand ambassadors will represent your target demographic and be people who actually use your products. They should speak from personal experience when interacting with customers at your marketing events. Otherwise, they won’t be able to effectively engage consumers and passionately promote your product.

Brand ambassadors should never violate the prime directive by creating a forced or phony delivery. Attendees will see right through it and quickly associate this inauthenticity with your brand as a whole.

Take your time. Proper, thorough training is crucial to creating a consistent marketing message that steers your enterprise. Be sure to take plenty of time to teach your brand ambassadors the ins and outs of your brand before putting them to the test in a real-world scenario. This training can either happen face-to-face, on the phone, or over Skype.

Depending on the complexity of the event, my company will spend anywhere from one to four weeks training our brand ambassadors. These sessions include role-playing, market manager testing, and real-life consumer engagement — all with the intent of gauging ambassadors’ knowledge of the brand and their ability to properly communicate it.

School them. One of my favorite hobbies is going to other companies’ marketing events incognito and quizzing their brand ambassadors. I can’t tell you how often the conversation goes something like this:

Me: “What are you guys doing here today?”
Brand ambassador: “We’re sampling a new product.”
Me: “Is this a health-related product?”
BA: “I think so. It promotes smooth skin.”
Me: “Interesting. How?”
BA: (after a long pause) “I’m not really sure. You see, today is my first day, and I’m only working the weekend. Maybe it says on the packaging?”

Simple follow-up questions should never stun your ambassadors.

If you think the Kobayashi Maru is just for Federation training, think again. Testing the knowledge of your brand ambassadors is the best way to prevent embarrassing exchanges (like the one above) from occurring. If they can’t prove their knowledge on paper, how will they ever be able to hold an informative face-to-face conversation?

Make It So

At the end of the day, creating consistent and effective brand ambassadors hinges on how well you hire and train. Cutting corners and using the cheapest warm bodies you can find won’t deliver the results you’re looking for.

Taking the time to hire and train high-quality people may cost you more, but you’ll end up getting what you pay for: authentic consumer interaction, positive brand association, and a campaign that propels your company to warp speed.