Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
Float Ambassadors have been with the industry since the beginning, but gained popularity sometime in the last few years. What are ambassadors and how to float centers find them? When they do find them, how do they get them to represent floating?
Graham and Ashkahn share their experiences with the practice of finding float mavens out in the world and the impact they’ve had on Float On.
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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Ashkahn: Okay. Welcome.
Graham: All right.
Ashkahn: Hey, everybody. This is Ashkahn.
Graham: This is Graham over here.
Ashkahn: What are we gonna do today?
Graham: I don’t know, I was thinking maybe answer question about float tanks.
Ashkahn: Oh, yeah. That’s a good idea.
Graham: Maybe give a little advice.
Ashkahn: That’s a good idea. That’s do that.
Graham: Sign off, telling people to go to our website and submit their own questions?
Ashkahn: Okay. We don’t even have to do it anymore.
Graham: Eat a burrito.
Ashkahn: You pretty much got the outline.
Graham: Okay. Today’s question is, “I’ve set up an ambassador program. Are there terms I should be sure to include in a contract?”
Graham: Yeah. So, let’s talk about what they mean.
Graham: I guess, to bring everyone up to speed.
Ashkahn: Because when people talk about ambassador, when they use that specific word-
Graham: Yeah. They’re not talking about foreign diplomats who are coming over here, interacting with their-
Ashkahn: They might be. Technically, that means maybe they’re in DC and they have this whole program where …
Ashkahn: That’s probably not. That’s probably not.
Graham: Yeah, the vagaries of language are …
Ashkahn: Okay. But usually when people say they have an ambassador program, they’re, in my mind, talking about kind of the specific marketing set up where you work with kind of influencers or almost-
Ashkahn: Celebrities feels like too big of a word to me, but people with-
Graham: Actually just too long? Too many letters to include in a transcription?
Ashkahn: Semi-celebrities, like people with a decent following or people who usually have some sort of name and sort of a niche group.
Graham: I think influencers is-
Ashkahn: Influencers, yeah.
Graham: Is a good word. People who are gonna-
Ashkahn: We can just cut the last 30 seconds of this and-
Graham: Tell other people how awesome you are. You know?
Graham: Usually specifically in the right kind of arenas, too. So, someone who for example, teaches massage therapy would be a great example of this.
Graham: Not even just the massage therapist, but someone who’s teaching other massage therapists. They’re in this position of influence where maybe if they’re floating all the time, they’re just gonna naturally be spreading the word. Or unnaturally spreading the word, too. That’s where the contract part comes in, I guess. They could be contractually obligated to-
Ashkahn: Supernaturally spreading the word.
Graham: Preternaturally spreading the word. Yeah. Right. But yeah, you could require them in a contract and make a Facebook post and a tweet after every time they float, or there can be kind of an exchange going on there in addition to just goodwill.
Ashkahn: Often, I usually think about it in the sense of it’s a slightly more long term relationship. It’s not, when I think of ambassadors, I’m not thinking of someone coming in for one float and then-
Graham: Right, yeah.
Ashkahn: Shooting a tweet out afterwards. It’s more of a, yeah, you’re one of our float ambassadors.
Graham: So, in that sense probably someone who lives in the city with you, someone who’s, yeah, that’s where they’re influential is in the city that you’re established. We did another episode on celebrities that’s also about local celebrities, but also can be about people who are just passing through town, stuff like that. It’s almost solely people who are influential in that sphere around your center.
Again, I think a lot of centers as a result gravitate towards gyms and health and wellness and-
Ashkahn: Yoga, or-
Graham: Yeah, more that side of things, since we share the health and wellness industry with them.
Ashkahn: Yeah. Yeah, I haven’t seen many dental ambassadors or-
Graham: Right, yeah. Not as much, yeah. So, that’s cool. I think ambassador programs are great. I think they’re an excellent way to spread word of mouth and get news out about your float center.
Ashkahn: Yeah, and I think Float House I think just had a very public kind of, they talked a lot about this ambassador program they had set up for their place, and how well it worked for their marketing. I kind of see that as one of the roots of it spreading in the float worLd specifically.
Graham: Yeah, and definitely even that term, ambassador, in the float world at least, I think kind of comes from them championing it. But it’s been around in the business world for a while. Sometimes people really are called influencers. Sometimes they’re called mavens. It’s true. Those are actually, maven might actually be the most appropriate word for it.
But yeah, brand Lululemon got really, a clothing brand, got really famous for using ambassadors and kind of these micro celebrities and spread around their brand and wear their clothes and I think that’s kind of where it, that word ambassador, became really popularized.
Ashkahn: Yeah. So, I guess where’s the distinction between this and sponsoring someone? Or is this just a nicer way of … when I think of Lululemon doing it, it sounds a lot to me like Nike sponsoring Michael Jordan or something like that.
Graham: For sure. Yeah. I would just say it is, it’s like sponsoring these people who are not quite on that level, even though they could be, right? If you’re friends with the equivalent of the Michael Jordan of the massage world, whoever that is in your city, yeah, you’re giving them free floats. They’re wearing your sneakers. So, a fair kind of exchange going on and you’re getting, they get free swag and stuff like that.
I guess one of the differences is if it’s a professional athlete, you’re probably paying them money.
Graham: Too, and in this case you’re trying to hit that sweet spot where free floats is enough payment for them to be okay with-
Ashkahn: Yeah, that’s definitely a-
Graham: Repping you, you know?
Ashkahn: Distinction. I imagine, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lululemon was paying people money for stuff, but-
Graham: Probably have tiers.
Ashkahn: In the float world, I don’t think anybody in the float world is actively paying any of these people to rep floating.
Graham: Not that I know of. I haven’t talked to anyone who has that kind of ambassador program set up. It’s almost always, the person is getting free floats and that’s the extent of it.
Ashkahn: All right. So, I think we got that clarified now.
Graham: Yeah, you got it? You understand already, what ambassadors are?
Ashkahn: So, what was the question about? What was the question about?
Graham: It was what should be put, what’s the deal with contracts?
Graham: So, I personally don’t like having contracts for ambassadors.
Graham: I’m just gonna toss that out there. It’s controversial. People have said, “Graham, why no contracts?”
Ashkahn: Yeah, I feel like once you’ve created in your head this idea that you’re working with these ambassadors and you find the people, the next question is what is the details of this relationship, or what is the exchange that’s going on? I feel like that’s just, there’s just a huge spectrum from basically completely loosey goosey, which I think is more where we tend to sit-
Graham: That’s our style. It’s just how we play things. Far from the chest, yeah.
Ashkahn: When we’ve had, and I don’t think we’ve ever called them internally ambassadors, but we’ve definitely had people from the MMA world or stuff like that, people who live in Portland who we’ve set up with programs like this, where they’re floating at our center and they live here and they’re floating on a continuous basis, and we basically ask nothing of them. We’re just like, hey, we think floating would be really useful for you and helpful, and you should come in and float.
That’s pretty much it, and then they come in and float, and they tend to naturally want to kind of rep you as a result of that.
Graham: Yes. So, my word for them is friends. Right? To me, that’s kind of the direction that is worth going with an ambassador program in the end, right? We don’t need a contract with them because they come in and they’re grateful for the free floats and we hang out them, we’ve developed a relationship, and they naturally want to rep Float On and yeah, pretty much every time they come in they’re posting on Facebook and making a tweet about it, even though there’s not this contractual obligation.
I might even argue that the contract might deter them from doing as much as they would otherwise. When it’s just left in someone’s court to take care of you or not, or uphold their side of the social contract, often they go above and beyond even what would be included in a contract if you were to formalize it.
Ashkahn: We’ve gotten as far as having our logo on the little backdrop banner for MMA fighters and stuff like that.
Graham: Yeah, and Strike Force on Sirius cable television, which was wild.
Ashkahn: We didn’t pay for that. We didn’t even ask for it. It was just something that the person who was floating with us offered, because they thought it would be a nice thing for us.
Graham: We had to sign a waiver saying they were okay with us not paying them $20,000, because usually you’re not allowed to give away those sponsorships and our fighter was just like, they’re a small company. Let them on the banner. They did. It was crazy.
So, anyway, that’s my, exactly that is my argument for maybe even if you do have a contract, keep it a little more loose, you know? Or potentially just sign people who you like and who you want to support, and offer them free floats. If anything, I guess if I were to have a contract, it would be for them actually coming in to float. It’s like, hey, we’re gonna give you these free floats. Use one a month, or something like that. But even that feels a little weird, I don’t know.
Ashkahn: So, when people out there in float centers do have contracts, what do you think’s in there? What’s going on in there?
Graham: Exactly that. It’s things like, they’ll float, and for every float, they promise to do, usually it’s social media. They will do a Facebook post and a tweet, and if they’re present on Instagram or something like that, or it’s specifically an Instagram influencer, then they’ll do an Instagram post.
Ashkahn: I think it’s just hard beyond that, because at the point that you’re trying to make formal trades for something that’s more like a sponsorship, the price of that sponsorship is probably way above the cost of the floats you’re giving.
Graham: I guess for wellness practitioners I’ve also seen cross promotion, like you’ll include Float On, for example, in your mailing list when you send out things to your customers, or you’ll keep Float On brochures in your lobby so your customers can find them.
Ashkahn: Yeah, I’m sure it’s specific. If someone has a huge blog following, or-
Graham: Exactly, and the blog post is-
Ashkahn: You’re taking advantage of what the audience that they have is, really.
Graham: Exactly. But again, I honestly think that most people would feel really bad just coming in and floating all the time and not doing anything at all for you. There is this great social pressure, even from within, to not allow the inequality of exchange going on. If you’re doing something really nice for someone and that person’s in a place of influence, chances are they’re gonna pay it back. It’s just how the world works, and how human beings work.
I don’t know. I really feel like we are trained by big corporations to want to control things to such a fine tune level because we see all of this legalese being tossed around, and all of these really detailed contracts and fine print coming from people who really apparently know what they’re doing in the world.
But when you’re big enough, you have to do that stuff. Your pockets are so deep, you really need contracts, and your lawyers want contracts, and your board of directors wants contracts, and one of the cool things about being a small business to me is that you don’t need to do that. You can just find a local influencer who you like and say, “You’re really cool. Let’s go out to lunch. Also, you can float whenever you want at our float center. No strings attached,” and that’s fine. It’ll probably work out, and they’ll do really cool things for you.
So, I don’t know. Again, my advice of personal Float On advice in answer to the question is strongly consider just not using a contract.
Ashkahn: I think just the fact that we’re talking about floating helps, too. If you’re trying to go down this path and you make clothes like Lululemon, or maybe people are really passionate about Lululemon clothes. But is someone really gonna be super, wow, I wore this shirt and it changed my life in the way that if someone goes and floats, if you’re gonna have an ambassador in your ambassador program, it’s gonna be someone who had a really good float experience and genuinely wants to come back and do it. Don’t force someone because they floated once and you’re like, no, you’re in this, man. You gotta rep it now. That’s not gonna work.
So, you’re gonna find people who really do enjoy floating and really do think it’s helpful for them, and at that point, the rest of it feels a little bit more natural. They’re gonna want to rep you whether or not you have anything figured out because they’re having really good float experiences and it’s genuinely improving their lives.
Graham: For people who have big social media followings, they want interesting content to post.
Ashkahn: Yeah, for sure.
Graham: They want unique content. So, in that sense, you fit in perfectly with their desires as well. Yeah, in a way that even a clothing company might not as much.
Ashkahn: Yeah, I guess at the point I see this becoming more formal is if you have more formal stuff going on. If you have an event you put on and you want them to come give a talk or stuff like that, but I feel like at the scope of things that most float centers are doing-
Graham: And for wanting to get the word out there and just having cool influencers making sure that other people know about floating. Yeah.
Ashkahn: Probably cool.
Graham: It’s good.
Ashkahn: It’s all gonna be okay.
Graham: You’re fine.
Ashkahn: Yeah. Don’t even worry about it.
Graham: Yeah, don’t stress it.
Ashkahn: It’s all cool here.
Graham: All right. So, if you have questions, which you do, I know you have questions. That’s why you’re listening to this show. Just send them in. We’re running low on questions. We need more questions. We’re just gonna start answering questions about our diet and hair styles and stuff like that.
Ashkahn: We’ve got some weird questions. People have been sending some weird questions in, and-
Graham: There’s some really weird ones.
Ashkahn: we’re gonna dig into that.
Graham: Which feel free to send, yeah. Just feel free to send in your weird questions, too. Anyway, things are gonna get weird here pretty soon if you guys don’t hit those forms. So, go to floattanksolutions.com/podcast. Send them in.
Ashkahn: We’ll be listening.
Graham: And watching.
Ashkahn: And smelling.
Graham: So, get ready.
Ashkahn: All right. We’ll talk to you tomorrow.
Graham: Bye. Oh, and feeling. Okay. Bye. Bye.
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