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Sand Cloud is an ecommerce brand on a mission to save marine life. They donate 10 percent of their profits to nonprofits that support their mission to save the fishies.
This week on Ready, Set, Grow, I sat down with Brandon Leibel, co-founder of Sand Cloud, and Julie Aschidamini, VP of Marketing, to hear all about the one big marketing strategy that’s helped to propel Sand Cloud into a long-standing brand: their brand ambassador program.
Deciding to be mission-driven
When Brandon and his co-founders decided to start Sand Cloud, they knew they needed to be a mission-driven company in order to be around for the long-haul. They were inspired by brands like TOMS, which is also a mission-driven business.
In the beginning, the co-founders were focused on selling their first product, the Sand Cloud Towel. Since most of their customers were beach lovers like they were, they decided to make their mission around cleaning up the ocean.
Building the base for the ambassador program
After selling their beach towel by foot on the beaches, the co-founders of Sand Cloud decided to leverage Instagram to build their community and focused on“micro-influencers”— people who would be effective at marketing Sand Cloud’s mission since they have an engaged audience of followers Sand Cloud would like to reach.
"We just knew that building a community of people who believe in your mission, and not just your products, is kind of how to build a successful company for the long term. Instead of just focusing on big Instagram influencers and people who have a lot of followers, we focused on the normal, everyday person who enjoyed the beach and we thought would like our mission."
Brandon Leibel, Co-founder Sand Cloud
Sand Cloud initially started their brand ambassador program by messaging people who showed an interest in marine life on Instagram directly. For an entire year, the co-founders spent eight hours a day reaching out to folks to build the program. While those are some tedious hours to put in, the direct outreach worked and drove over $400K in profits in the first year.
Using email to scale a brand ambassador program
Today, Sand Cloud’s brand ambassador program is bigger and better than ever. The company uses email to welcome new ambassadors into the program and to communicate with them regularly. When someone first signs-up, they receive Sand Cloud’s seven-part welcome series, which includes an overview of their mission, their company, and a discount on their first purchase. When Sand Cloud partners with new non-profits or has a story to share with their ambassadors, they use email to keep everyone in the loop.
What you can learn from Sand Cloud
If you’re looking to get started with a brand ambassador program of your own, Julie recommends staying in tune with your ambassadors.
"Listening to your ambassadors is a very big thing. They've been very helpful to our business. Making sure that you're speaking to them genuinely and discussing what they care about is super important. Our ambassador program is really the core to our business, as well as our mission, so it's a great program for any business. Ambassadors are advocates for your brand and they're able to spread the word a lot further than you would with some traditional marketing strategies."
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