Video Series: Q&A with SMS Thought Leader Kris Mathis

SponsorPitch.com is one of the largest and most successful technology platforms to connect brands and properties, with over 85,000 members and reporting on over $10 billion in sponsorship deals since it was founded in 2008. Founder Kris Mathis joins us to talk about some of the biggest shifts as a result of COVID and emerging trends he projects for 2021 and beyond.

Paula Beadle: You recently reported on the three of the world’s largest sponsors, Six Flags Live Nation, Manchester United, and how they’re seeing extraordinary revenue declines. So what advice would you give to sellers, during this time to remain optimistic about the future?

Kris Mathis: Yeah. I mean, I get it. It’s a tough, you know, it’s a time when obviously there’s a lot to be pessimistic about. So, I get that, sometimes it can be tough to be optimistic. You know, there’s a lot being thrown at sponsorship sellers right now. But what we do is we do see some rays of sunlight. I guess one of, one of those being that month over month, between March and June deals were kind of trending downwards pretty at a pretty steep clip. Whereas between June and July, we saw a little bit of a reversal of that and an uptick in deals by about 20%. So that in itself, I think quantitatively is a positive.

But I think we’ll probably see that trend upwards again in August in terms of the volume of deals that are happening, what we’re seeing, you know, what we’re seeing in terms of, of deal flow is that there’s really sort of, like, like a have, and have nots as sponsors, right? So there’s a lot of sponsors that have just completely shut down and are not doing new deals. Their businesses are suffering.

You can think of things like restaurants, right? These misses are very physical, you know, based on physical assets, but there’s also sort of the halves, which are sponsors like Zoom and Door Dash and a mortgage companies with everyone moving to the suburbs, any kind of eCommerce company.  And these are all good examples of sponsors that are still super active and are probably more active today than they were prior to the pandemic.

Paula Beadle: What are some more of those, sponsorship trends that you’re seeing as a result of COVID?

Kris Mathis: What we’re seeing is that content can really be exported to a number of different, unique formats, which we didn’t really see. I mean, we didn’t really see as much as before, right? The event experiences is core to everything, but now we’re seeing. film festivals being taken completely online, streaming music festivals, we’ve even seen proposals on our platform for a drive-through haunted house. It’s been interesting to see these different properties sort of adapt and adapt their content to the same environment that we’re in.

And again, I think in the long run that will be a positive because, having that optionality, and those different assets to be able to offer sponsors can only be a benefit, once we all hopefully get through this.

Paula Beadle: Certainly category spending has changed significantly over this last summer. Can you give us a sneak peek of what you’re seeing for kind of the top spending or top categories over the next, six months or so?

Kris Mathis: For the short term, I would say anything e-commerce – gambling, online health with, companies like, Roman, and mortgages, like I mentioned before is, is one that we’re seeing an uptick and, you’ve got these really innovative companies like Roman and Zenni and Monkey Knife Fight, and Manscape that have crazy names, but I think are taking a long game approach to sponsorship and understanding that sports entertainment isn’t going anywhere and are kind of using this as an opportunity really, to snap up long term sponsorship deals and really, you know, I think smart way and make a name for themselves, which they’re doing a good job with. So I think those are some of the categories and companies that you’re going to see, continue to be, sort of trending upwards in the next few months.

Paula Beadle: Sponsorship sellers are definitely going to have to up their game in terms of digital social assets, how they’re creatively integrating sponsors into that. Do you think that sponsorship sellers will also have to find more creative ways to connect with those potential sponsors, beyond using SponsorPitch? What else do you anticipate that people will need to do to get deals done? is it going to be tougher in the future?

Kris Mathis: I mean, I think no matter what avenue you’re using, the, the challenge remains the same, right? How you solve a real business problem for someone. And I think we see, obviously we see sponsorship sellers that are really good at that, where they’re sort of researching and thinking inside the mindset of a sponsor and approaching them with a really solutions oriented pitch.

Then we see others that are not so much focused on that. But I think that no matter what the mechanism is that you’re reaching out, whether it’s SponsorPitch, LinkedIn phone, email, you know, that’s kind of where we see the, the delta between successful sponsorship sellers and sponsorship sellers that aren’t so successful is that sort of, the ones that are thinking, and crafting their pitch and a solutions oriented way.

Paula Beadle:  So you may have just answered my last question – You’ll be talking about emerging trends at the summit and, I’d love for you just to share what you’re hoping that people walk away from your session with.

Kris Mathis: I think we’ll be looking at some of the partnership trends that we’re obviously seeing currently during the pandemic, as well as some of the things that we might, you know, look like, hopefully coming all out of all of this. Like I said before, I think this is such a great time for sponsorship pros to sort of brush up on their skills.

Something that you typically don’t have lots of time to do during the daily hustle and bustle. Now is really a great time to, to lean into some things like this and get out of your comfort zone and hopefully, get better at our craft. I think SMS provides a great opportunity for us to do that in a socially distance, but, hopefully really informative way.

Paula Beadle:  Yeah, I think so. Well, let’s you and I keep having this conversation and keep encouraging people to use this time, to improve those skills. I want to keep applauding and encouraging everyone, who’s out there doing the heavy lifting and the hard work of bringing these partnerships together and thank you to you for all that you’re doing to help make that happen and also giving us something to feel optimistic about every day.

About the Summit: Sponsorship Mastery Summit will take place virtually and in select cities September 23rd and 24th, 2020. SMS is a powerful and immersive experience specifically for sponsorship sales leaders representing universities, parks and recreation, tourism, sports teams and events, fairs and festivals, venues, arts and cultural organizations. Attendees will collaborate with thought leaders, hear from big brands, exchange ideas and leave with best practices, actionable tools, valuable resources and new connections. Participants will attend interactive workshops, industry forums, big idea roundtables, and networking events. 


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