The 3 Key Categories to Sponsorship Fit
There are several levels to sponsorship “fit”. Often, when you hear people discuss “does this sponsorship fit”, they are referring to the relationship between the brand (sponsor) and the property (sponsee). However, there is more to the fit equation then properties and brand matching.
Fit is pivotal to sponsorship success. In this blog, I’ll lay out the three major ways you can check if your fit is a match. Oh, and yes, Brand to Property is absolutely one of them, but that doesn’t make it the only one.
Brand to Property
This is the most talked about level of fit. Within this level there are several fit categories such as geographical, image, and attitude (how the brand and property present themselves to the audience). Without question this is still the highest level of fit that needs to be examined when evaluating a new partnership. It’s the classic match of Red Bull to extreme sports, Rolex to tennis, banking to golf, and FedEx to Memphis.
Sponsor to Other Sponsors Fit
I once worked at a sporting event sponsored by a national chip brand. We were able to sell several other new sponsorships to brands that were complimentary fit partners. We brought an avocado association on-board (hello guac and chips!) and a fast-food brand who was partnering with the chip brand on a new form of taco. These connections were obvious and very complimentary of each other.
The other side of the equation is partners who would do the exact opposite of being complimentary. We like to refer to them as “Conflicting Partners”. Conflicting partners could be a brand in a similar category or when brands just have a completely different attitude towards how they market. An example is bringing on two QSR restaurants because one you classify as a chicken QSR knowing that the other also sells chicken dishes. This is more often a concern for the business development side of the property when you are prospecting. There is a much stronger chance of selling more sponsorships and keeping them onboard for a longer duration when sponsors feel they are working with complimentary partners vs. conflicting partners. However, brands need to be keenly aware of who they are sharing the stage with.
Sponsor to Audience Fit
The last and arguably the most important level of fit (at least in my experienced eyes) is Consumer/Audience Fit.
As an agency, we highlight the importance of knowing your audience, and that is true from both the brand side and property side. Overall sponsor fit has shown a clear line that if the sponsors meets most fit categories their relationship to the property and their consumers will lead to an increase in purchase consideration and the development of the sponsorship superpower, image transfer. Well, that is all a waste if the audience (fans, attendees, members, etc) are not likely to purchase your product in the first place. It would be like a luxury brand saying they are leaving tennis and golf to move to youth sports. Sure, youth sports parents can very well have a large level of income but 50% of your audience are the youth themselves who don’t have the means to purchase your product. This may be a very basic example but there are hundreds of demographics and psychographic breakdowns of consumers that need to be matched between the brand and the audience for this fit to be maximized.
When you are making decisions that will affect your sponsorship portfolio aka sponsorship selection, sponsorship fit needs to always be in the discussion. We plan to dive deeper and deeper into the sponsorship fit equation in future content. Breaking down the top three levels is just a start as with fit and most data sets, you can always go a little deeper.