Brands will fail without a relationship with their local community and government, argues Sean Sammon, general manager of strategic government organisation, Bastion S+GO 1.
At the core of any business, regardless of service or sector, is a relationship with the community that supports it. Many brands and organisations overlook the role engaging local community plays in selling products.The question brands should be asking themselves is how to turn a supporter into a member or financial contributor to the business.
Finding new ways to engage with local community members; demarking a clear point of difference in membership offerings; offering alternative models of membership across commercial and government sectors and having a clear strategy to activate membership bases are crucial for success.
Every organisation has core supporters, regardless of what sector they operate in. Products don’t sell, services don’t work and customers don’t stay if you are not engaged with the community. The opportunity for brands is to understand their local community and to foster relationships with the key decision makers in their area that can assist them.
To inform major decisions and facilitate influential, meaningful relationships for mutual benefit, brands have to understand and embrace the value government can bring. For governments to support brands, brands need to support government, and that’s through a genuine connection to their local community.
If you look at one of the most powerful brands of Australia – government crest – it’s so powerful you can’t use it in a commercial sense. If you associate yourself with that brand, through participation in sport, or a cultural programme with the local museum or community, you give credibility to your brand that you’re not just profit driven. It communicates the brand has a genuine desire to engage with the community above a concept of just generating additional sales.
It’s well known that brands and organisations with a community minded ethos are more likely to succeed. It’s why by partnering with government – the largest not-for-profit in the country – you increase your chances of delivering commercial benefits for your organisation.
What do I mean by this? A footy club that engages and works closely with its local governments is more likely to receive support for a new oval down the road. It’s a great outcome for the organisation, the community and government. That’s an example that can just as likely apply to legislative change or regulatory relief for any brand.
To help do just this we recently brought in Austrade executive Ashley White to head up the International Diplomacy division, helping Australian brands realise global opportunities, in the role of general manager international. White’s appointment as GM international will see him work across the private and public sector to generate international business opportunities for Bastion S+GOs’ clients and deliver maximum ROI.
Widely accredited with helping win $2 billion in international business deals for Australian companies, White has overseen major government cross-cultural business and diplomatic projects in China, India, Japan, France, UK, Russia and South Africa, including the Summer and Winter Olympics, Commonwealth Games, FIFA and Rugby World Cup Tournaments.
I believe the acquisition of White enables the Group to extend the offering beyond government consultancies are currently offering in Australia, providing significant international commercial opportunity for their clients. White’s track record highlights his well-honed ability to engage high-level business, political and sporting leaders to get deals done. He has impressive commercial acumen, skills and knowledge in global stakeholder relations.
In Australia, the success of any campaign in collaboration with government operates on an information currency and great relationships. You are more valuable when you have information and people that can inform decisions. Internationally, brands can be more relevant when they’re able to participate in influential relationships. What White provides is a wide network of relationships and an in depth of understanding how the international communities can work together.