If you’re between jobs or looking to pick up some extra cash, consider signing up to be a “Brand Ambassador” or Field Marketing Representative. These are the folks you see at fairs and major events, or even inside a big box store demonstrating products. Over the past decade I worked several events while I was building my resume business. Some of the jobs I completed included two Walgreen’s Health Fairs, an air show, and about 150 demos at Sam’s Club and Costco.

There are numerous field marketing companies out there. Most advertise on Craiglist under gigs until they find a stable of talent in each area for their database. They assign events to those who are most dependable and execute every detail with professionalism.

You can sign up with several companies. Usually these agencies are looking for attractive models who are friendly, approachable, and able to speak to strangers. You’ll need a headshot and resume. The headshot needs to be only you and somewhat professional looking. When the company has an event to fill they go through their database and offer it up. Many times they fill it to the first person who responds, so it’s important that you act fast or you can lose out. The pay can be anywhere from $11/hour to $20/hour depending on the complexity, how hard it is to fill, and what’s expected.

During the event you’ll be expected to engage with shoppers, offer them a sample, and play up a product’s benefits. Some customers are eager to talk to you. Others will brush you off and keep walking. They’re there to shop, not chit chat. Most of the customers and management are generally polite. Although from time to time you do get rude comments about the company or product your promoting.

One thing to note about these events is that you’re expected to put in additional time that you’re not paid for. For example, I’ve seen one company tell me to arrive 15 minutes early to set up, but it’s not in the contract so they don’t pay you for that. The other is the paperwork you need to fill out when you get home from the event. Many times you need to input information into a computer or telephone survey prompt system. Then you’re expected to fax in all your paper work within 48 hours of the event. The event can be a weekend of pouring wine samples, handing out coupons for cat food, or hawking makeup at Coscto. It’s always a different campaign which makes it fun.

Now for the underbelly of it all. Outdoor events can be hot, windy, wet, or really nice. I remember being at two different outdoor events where I was assigned the position next to the generator. I got to smell fumes all day!  Plus you’re on your feet all day and you won’t sit down, so wear really good shoes and try and stand on a cushioned mat.  Otherwise you might have sore legs at the end of the day.

Some companies will issue you a prepaid debit card and make you stand in line at a retail store’s register. They expect you to make a small purchase to “sign in” when you arrive since most of these jobs are unsupervised. Signing in with a debit card to make a purchase is such a hassle, especially when there’s a long line of people ahead of you.

As with any industry, some of these agencies are better than others. Here are some of my favorites: Encore Nationwide and Pierce Promotions. These two are the leaders when it comes to recruiting, execution, and payment. Encore Nationwide faithfully paid me every two weeks for a 9-month gig at Costco and they made the whole field marketing experience a pleasure. There are a lot of smaller agencies out there that are slow with payment, make huge mistakes in execution, or make their whole  process a major pain. However, you’ll soon learn which companies are your favorites, and which to avoid. You can also google the company name with the words “complaints” and see what comes up.

These jobs can be sometimes steady and other times sporadic. With my Costco gig, I handed out makeup samples every weekend to get members familiar with the new line of cosmetics available only through Costco. That was a great job because I didn’t have to learn a new product every week and I became really knowledgeable, developed good reports for the company, and documented my own sales progress!

The upside to being a Brand Ambassador is that you can meet a lot of really neat people, score some good samples, and get into events free, including a look behind the scenes. It’s also pays a decent hourly wage. But don’t expect it to be easy money. You will work your butt off.

Put your best foot forward by producing a quality head shot. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer (although I have, and it helped) but you do need to be the only one in the photo. That means no friends, pets, or you holding a beer. Fill out the application completely and accurately.  Include a decent resume to show off your willingness to work holidays, weekends, and nights.  Make yourself to appear as youthful and energetic as possible. Send back all required paperwork such as an I-9 and 1099 back quickly.

Finally, when you complete your assignments, send along a note thanking the booker for the business. Not many people do that. That alone helped me stay steadily employed in this niche for nearly a decade.