Fan Advocacy Done Right: Maker's Mark's Brand Ambassadors

What can Maker's Mark teach us about utilizing brand advocates?


You may have heard us at SocialToaster talk about cultivating brand advocates, but that’s no reason to stop talking about it! Today, we picked a compelling ambassador program, the Maker’s Mark Ambassadors, to highlight the strengths of utilizing your fans’ voices to improve your brand’s marketing strategy.


Maker’s Mark, a popular brand of bourbon whisky, launched its brand ambassador program in 2001 and has since incorporated digital media into its operations. Ambassadors are tasked with advocating for Maker’s Mark by sharing the company’s tweets, liking Maker’s Mark on Facebook, and inviting friends to join the loyalty program; these loyal fans are rewarded with exclusive access to Maker’s Mark Ambassador content such as the Ambassador App, a personalized barrel of Maker’s Mark, and VIP status within the brand. I read so many positive reviews of the program that I had to sign up to be an ambassador and see it for myself! 


Wait: A personalized barrel of whisky?


That’s right: Upon signing up to be a Maker’s Mark Ambassador, users are put on the docket to have their name stamped into a personalized barrel plate. Brand ambassadors can then purchase a bottle of Maker’s Mark brewed from their personalized barrel in addition to receiving other gifts such as cocktail shakers, golf balls, and other rewards to encourage their participation in the program.


Maker’s Mark Ambassadors have helped guide the company in a positive direction as well. Back in early 2013, Maker’s Mark announced it would reduce the alcohol content (ABV) of its bottles due to supply limitations, a move that angered many brand ambassadors and other customers. Maker’s Mark listened to its ambassadors to correct its mistake: “We have heard many concerns and questions from our ambassadors and brand fans. We’re humbled by your overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark...we are reversing our decision to lower the ABV of Maker’s Mark,” states a letter written by Maker’s Mark COO Rob Samuels and Chairman Bill Samuels, Jr. Maker’s Mark’s best fans, its ambassadors, were not only able to provide a positive voice for the brand, but they gave the company valuable input to stop it from making a poor decision.


The Maker’s Mark program is a brilliant example of fan advocacy done right. Its personalized, exclusive rewards make Ambassadors feel special and encourage their participation. Furthermore, the ambassador program serves as a direct feedback channel with these 100,000+ brand advocates, allowing Maker’s Mark to hear the input of its most valued customers. Establishing a fan ambassador program allows your brand’s most loyal voices to be heard on their social networks, giving you more attention and engagement without having to spend obscene amounts of money on traditional advertisements. If you offer enticing (yet reasonable) incentives, make your fans feel special, and treat them as loyal customers, then your brand ambassador program can help your company gain significant attention.


Do you want to set up a brand ambassador program like Maker’s Mark’s? Check out how our program works to learn more about how SocialToaster can give your Super Fans super powers!