The list goes like this - Gatorade, MILO, Holden, Qantas, Light ‘n' Easy, rebel, Toyota, do I need to continue?... Ok, Nike, Uncle Toby’s, Adidas, Emirates, Fujitsu, Bonds & Optus. A serious cluster of blue chip brands, wouldn’t you say?
They represent a myriad of categories from automotive to portion controlled meals, but what do they all have in common? Simple. They all use brand ambassadors as star players in their respective marketing mix.
By using an ambassador for your product or brand you are essentially looking to create a mental short cut for consumers, making it easier for them to know what your brand stands for and provide someone to validate their choice - or that's the plan, anyway.
This works on the proviso your consumer knows what your ambassador stands for. Nick Kyrgios for instance, represents teen angst and rebellion better than any other athlete on our sovereign soil, while cricket doyen Steve Waugh is the epitome of determination, grit and leadership.
A lot of brands make these key-critical marketing decisions based on a keen commercial eye and a close connection to their community. This was the case back in the mid-noughties when Swisse Vitamins leader Radek Sali helped to catapult the vitamin industry into another stratosphere by hand picking then Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting as its first major brand ambassador.
While this instance was a resounding success, there have been many cases (Ryan Lochte cough) where the use of ambassadors to shape a brand’s image, or carry their marketing clout, hasn't gone to script.
While commercial acumen and a keener eye than Phil “The Power” Taylor (Google him) are desirable traits when selecting a brand ambassador, anchoring your decision in data-driven insights, framed by measurable sponsorship objectives, will add the necessary ‘sponsorship science’ to your decision.
Yes, there are a number of generic metrics on the market to gauge an ambassador’s suitability, or their “star appeal” or “asset impact” based on cues like awareness and likeability.
However, the advantage of undertaking bespoke research and using your objectives to frame your final decision, ensures your Ambassador Alignment Index has the most customised ROI-generating strategy for your brand.
Ambassador Alignment Index
So how can Bastion’s Ambassador Alignment Index (AAI) help provide clarity and direction for any ambassador strategy, and what does it look like?
Essentially, it can take a number of angles, but in its simplest form it starts off by using what your company or product stands for as a lens for ambassador alignment. Specifically, it is about targeting your intended audience and encouraging them to help tell you what ambassadors best mirror your nominated values.
Once you have the ambassador shortlist, you can then use your specific marketing objectives (i.e. what you want to achieve, to guide your final decision). It’s at this point that your instinctive gut feel and inbuilt brand equity finalise the decision, before negotiating the deal.
As a general rule, the steps can be summarised as follows:
1.) Research and confirm the most relevant territories for your target market
The solid foundation of the entire AAI is defined by quality insights. Mandatories include qualitative and quantitative consumer research, coupled with social listening and insight analysis. Essentially, providing rich data as to where the greatest portion of your target market lies and what they are most interested in.
2.) Use your company/product mission as a criterion to assess and create an ambassador shortlist
Make sure you are aligning your brand / product with a like-minded ambassador and persona. Third party analysis is imperative to help mitigate bias. What you think someone stands for might be poles apart from your target market’s opinion - let your target market help shape the short list.
3.) Use your marketing objectives to assess and rank the short list of potentials
This is the point at which you go back to ‘What am I trying to achieve?’ If your primary objective is to drive community growth and recruitment, there will be a greater weight on their social following and quality of influence.
4.) Test your shortlist using commercial intuition and ‘Ambassador Alignment’
Use an acute understanding of your company, category or product, and the ambassador landscape to highlight any anomalous in the selection. Finally, with a tool like ‘Bastion Influence’ undertake social listening and tracking of a prospectus ambassador’s history, both on and offline, to finalise the AAI.
5.) Negotiate objective-achieving assets with the most aligned ambassador
The negotiation and selection of assets is absolutely crucial, as this is the portal to reaching your consumers – and it can take many forms (i.e. Ambassador appearances to increase staff engagement, versus social access to drive a brands community growth on owned channels.)
With the new wave of digital ROI evaluation tools and marketing dollars being scrutinised closer than ever, less brands have the luxury of making key-critical decisions without the backing of data-driven ‘commercial science’.
So, if consumer insights and your objectives are not steering your ambassador selection, you could be going in the wrong direction.
To chat about this and other commercial strategies feel free to get in touch, we’re only one click away.