There’s nothing like the feeling of closing a partnership. Hours of conversation, ideation, proposal development, and negotiations can be grueling, but the reward is oh so sweet. It’s even more incredible when the sponsorship is developed with intentionality, creativity, and will meet the goals of both the sponsor and the rights-holder. But how is that perfect partnership trifecta accomplished? When the foundation is a smart sponsorship marketing strategy.
I’m sharing a few insights into why sponsorship is a smart marketing strategy and an insider’s perspective on how to approach brands more effectively through this lens. These insights come from my experience leading a sponsorship team for a Fortune 500 company combined with my sales experience, our industry research, and what brands from around the country are telling us.
Understanding Sponsorship as a Marketing Tool
To kick things off, let’s review why sponsorship is a powerful marketing tool. Below are a few reasons that sponsorship marketing is effective for brands.
Sponsorship marketing creates opportunities for a meaningful conversation, creating a relationship that builds trust and turns customers into friends, and friends into fans. Sponsorship programs can and should reach across multiple disciplines and channels. Consistent and authentic use of multiple platforms delivers a higher level of visibility and engagement and brings the partnership to life.
Spotlights the Brand
Consumers are returning to entertainment events in huge numbers and sponsorship puts brands where the people are during a celebratory time. Sponsorship puts brands in the middle of the action and connects with the emotion of the audience in the moment. Think about your first concert or sporting event . . . you remember it right, probably every detail. Brands want to be a part of that lasting memory.
Provides a Powerful Platform to Showcase Social Good Initiatives
By incorporating social good into sponsorships and events, you achieve a higher level of awareness, participation, and results. Sponsorship is the best platform to connect, support and deliver social good initiatives. Sponsorship is a powerful platform for brands to communicate social values and actively engage audiences. They can help tell the stories that pull heartstrings and inspire deeper and more meaningful connections to your audience.
Builds Community Capital
Sponsorship contributes to the “Community Capital” built by sporting and entertainment events and venues, charitable organizations, tourism and travel, and universities. Events need the resources of the business community. Events are the heart and soul of communities and can’t survive without the active, devoted participation of sponsors. Sponsorships are pivotal to the survival and success of events.
Delivers Measurable Results
Pricing and valuation of sponsorship marketing is the #1 industry challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. Sponsorship ROI is measurable. Brands are more data-driven than ever before. Sponsorships provide a way to measure value, not only in the assets but the economic and social value. Lesa Ukman, Founder of Pro-Social Valuation has incredible insights on the impact and value that community partnerships bring to communities.
Aligning Your Property within a Brand’s Sponsorship Marketing Strategy
It starts with immersing yourself in the brand. The most successful sponsorships are a result of being a solution provider for the brand and becoming an extension of their team, their frustrations, their successes, their tactics, and their bottom line. Whether they’re a new relationship or long-time partner don’t miss the opportunity to be intentional, thoughtful, and responsive to the brand’s current and future priorities.
One of the most important steps in your journey is to understand their business goals. You may not know the metrics for how their decision to move forward will be made but aligning your sponsorship to meet their goals and objectives from the very start is the key to a successful partnership. Their sponsorship marketing strategy is undoubtedly tied to these goals.
As we’ve learned post-COVID, the industry and economy will change, but that doesn’t mean their sponsorship marketing strategy will. Amy Potter, Director, North American Sponsorships of BMO Financial spoke at the Sponsorship Mastery Summit, about BMO’s partnerships throughout COVID, “Our strategy didn’t change, it evolved. we stuck to our values and the core of our partnership. in turn, it allowed us to be better, to become better, and to put away things that maybe weren’t working for us in the sponsorships.”
A brand’s strategy will influence their sponsorship investments and act as benchmarks for the success and value of their return on investment, which is why it is pivotal for you to do your homework. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not doing your research. Before every call to a new prospect, I recommend making a list of five “I know statements” that you know about that prospect. Look at their website, consume their social posts, and browse for articles and press releases. Having a few key points in your back pocket will give you talking points when speaking with a prospect.
Brands like Coke and T-Mobile are prime examples of brands that have implemented effective, long-term sponsorship marketing strategies. Both companies have a “think global, act local” strategy. At their core, this strategy has not changed, but objectives have evolved and ultimately driven more value for their company and the properties.
You must consider how, or if, you can help them meet their goals and objectives. According to a study by Sponsez, 75% of sponsors are continually looking for new partnerships that can more accurately line up with their goals. Before developing a proposal, understand how your property or event can help a brand meet its goals. Ask yourself: does this partnership make sense? Do your due diligence to discover what the brand’s key goals are. Your property or event has the power to help a brand expand its audience, strengthen the brand, provide unique experiences, drive retail sales, and give them a competitive edge.
Ignite Your Efforts Today
Sponsorship is the most engaging, creative, and effective marketing strategy that brands can implement. In a post-pandemic world, brands will shift their broad advertising strategies to meaningful interactions that genuinely support the communities they serve. If brands are going to form trusted connections with customers, they will have to think locally and adapt their marketing approach in new ways to meet audiences where they are at. Sponsors will seek opportunities to align with events that serve their communities. Properties and events can be a catalyst for powerful partnerships that unite brands, consumers and communities.
About the Author
Paula Beadle is the CEO of Caravel Marketing, a national consulting company specializing in sponsorship marketing, and the founder of Sponsorship Mastery, an annual summit and programming dedicated to improving individual and organizational sponsorship performance. She is a results-driven trailblazer with a proven record of developing smart strategies and creatively connecting the right partners. Paula has helped iconic events and major brands achieve their goals through innovative sponsorship initiatives, generating incremental revenue and successfully coaching thriving teams, executives and boards.