I’d like to start this post by posing a question: Would you invest your personal savings and retirement funds without a plan or advice? The answer is probably no. Well I hope it’s no and the same should go for sponsorship. Sponsorship is a financial investment not just a tool and the following five tips will help you maximize the value of your sponsorship arrangements:
1) Fund your investment. There is no point paying to get in the door of a stadium or entrance to an event if you don’t bring your brand to life once you are there. Sponsorship is not just about paying to play. It requires incremental funds to activate. How much? Well, the most successful sponsors will invest activation funds that are two to three times the cost of entry.
2) Plan, plan, plan. This concept is not new in the world of marketing and it shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to sponsorship. Clearly define your objectives.
3) Collaborate in partnership. Sponsorship should be embraced and optimized by an organization in its entirety. Take advantage of its ability to serve a wide range of business needs and work together with the sponsor property to forge a partnership that builds a strategic alliance between your entities. The opportunities to develop strategic solutions to support one another’s needs are endless.
4) Resource up. In addition to securing funding for activation, partnerships require time, thought and expertise. Don’t manage a significant partnership investment from the corner of your desk.
5) Measure, refine and evaluate. Again, this is not a new concept. Always refer back to your objectives and make sure that you have the appropriate metrics in place to evaluate the success of programs and initiatives.
When it comes to personal investing, I like to seek advice from experts and build a plan accordingly. I am a huge fan of the Globe and Mail’s finance columnist Rob Carrick. I seek out Rob’s column each weekend and follow him on Facebook and through his blog. Rob shares his financial investment knowledge in a personable and friendly manner. In a similar fashion, this blog will deliver personable, friendly advice from the world of sponsorship.
With the emergence of social media into mainstream culture, sponsorship rightsholders are increasingly integrating social media benefits into sponsor packages. This allows rightsholders to raise the value of their packages while engaging a sponsor’s targeted audience in a unique and relevant manner to support their efforts to promote awareness, affiliation, loyalty and sales.
Take the world of sports for example. Teams, sporting events and even individual athletes are embracing socialisation. The London 2012 Olympics has been dubbed the ‘Socialympics’ with social media playing a huge role for sponsors engaging with consumers through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Olympic athletes embraced social media in a similar fashion too providing a more intimate connection with the sport and creating loyal communities. These communities provided opportunities for rightsholders to directly engage, share meaningful content, as well as to observe and to learn.
As rightsholders and sponsors increasingly work together on social media activation, I believe that it is important that both parties share mutual understanding with regards to transparency. Transparency has been well documented by social media experts over the years and as Elissa Nauful clearly articulates, ‘transparency is a fundamental part to most successful social media connections and campaigns’. It illustrates an openness and creates authenticity and credibility.
The acceptable degree of transparency in social media is debatable and John Cass provides excellent discussion around this topic. I for one believe that honesty is the best policy but that at the most basic level, common sense needs to play a role and draw a line at confidential information, trade secrets and personal details. As for brands working in partnership across social media, I suggest that rightsholders and sponsors proactively discuss one another’s philosophies on transparency to support the development of a long and prosperous partnership.
I stumbled across the world of sponsorship marketing in the year 2000. I was a raw graduate travelling around the world. I arrived in Whistler and fell in love, literally and figuratively, and justified an extended stay by landing my first real job in the Strategic Alliances Department at Whistler Blackcomb, the #1 Ski and Snowboard Resort in the world. My job description required intermediate skiing/snowboarding abilities among other things and although I grew up in the UK (miles from any mountains), I was lucky to have spent the previous year teaching in Japan and learning to snowboard.
It would be fair to say that I had no idea what I was actually signing up for the day I signed my contract at Whistler. Since then I have been fortunate to have worked in partnership with a wide variety of blue chip companies and their marketing agencies, such as VISA, American Express, Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Labatt, TELUS and Land Rover. (I have also enjoyed many a powder day and had many brainstorming sessions while riding chairlifts!). I have negotiated and managed strategic marketing partnerships integrating experiential marketing, events, client hosting, promotions, traditional media, digital media and direct marketing across Canada and the US.
I have learned so much from so many people and now it’s time to share my thoughts and experiences with sponsorship marketing. Contrary to popular belief, sponsorship is far from writing a cheque and hanging a banner. The opportunities are endless.
My hope is that you find my posts insightful; I welcome your comments.